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Y2K revisited

Lately I’ve been thinking about an article I read in the run up to Y2K. It was a survey of population biologists and the question was “How many people will be living on the planet after the next 100 years, in 2100?” I assumed it would be several more billions and a lot of the answers said as much. But there was a significant number of biologists predicting fewer people than now. For two reasons, one, a nuclear war and second, a pandemic that would decimate similar to the Black Death. The pathogen might be from nature but one escaping from a laboratory had good odds. I found this unnerving, as I had never imagined a pandemic, yet here we are at the start of one. I have also always been fascinated by the statistical analysis of choice, i.e. the correlation between risk and return in investing, which of three doors might the prize be behind, betting to hold or hit in blackjacks, betting on the replay of the game. So the modeling of the spread of the virus considering this or that condition I find interesting. I understand the need to study the pathogen, its virolence, etc, but what about the population that gets infected, what do the models assume or assign to the population? My specific question is “What is the coefficient of stupid used to describe the population? It seems that this may have a huge role in the spread of the pathogen, and current numbers seem to bare this out.


  • From most of what I've seen, heard or read STUPID ranks right up there.
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