Information Hygiene

Source: Our World In Data



Over the past few months, I have been occasionally posting on the threat Covid-19 has created to the economic recovery (see, e.g., this, this, or this).

In this blog format, I mostly stick to my own assessment of markets and the economy. Sure, partisan politics can impact sentiment, but I want to focus on the areas where I have some proven skillset and expertise in providing insight.1 But if you must begin every post or media appearance with the phrase “I am not an epidemiologist, but…” the odds are tilted against anything of value following.

Quite a few of you had some thoughts which you shared with me. For the most part, they were thoughtful and constructive. Long-time readers know I am all too happy to debate my views with anyone who cares to. If you want to argue about what I write about indexing, alternative investments, inflation, or whatever, I will gleefully engage with all comers. But if you push back against my Vax position — namely, that you should get vaccinated, that the governments should mandate it, as should employers — I ask only that you engage in the most basic of information hygiene practices.

What does this mean? What are good information practices? Its mostly common sense:

Anecdotes are meaningless; forecasts + predictions prove nothing. Do not cite OpEds or opinion pieces as proof of anything other than THAT guy has THIS opinion. If you want to make a scientific claim, it should be real science (published, peer-reviewed, etc.). It is not real science just because you read it on Facebook. If you venture into the realm of the “flat earthers,” there is no debate to be had.

It’s not just vaccines, the entire concept of what is real and what is false is a key part of the work we do as investors. This is just separating signal from noise. That is before we get to all of the behavioral and cognitive issues that lead us astray.

There are not a lot of things I agree with Senator Lindsey Graham about — but listen to the crowd shout him down when he tells them to protect themselves and their families by getting vaccinated. Just imagine the sort of nonsense these people base their most important life decisions on — it is horrifying.

That is what it looks like when you create a monster and you can no longer control it.

Oh, and that chart up top? After leaping out to a fast start, the US is now at the bottom of the list for wealthy nations in terms of total vaccination percentages. We are blowing it. We are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Bad information is in large part why…





The Economic Risks from Anti-Vaxxers (July 15, 2021)

DELTA is Coming For Your Economic Recovery (August 13, 2021)

Missing: Corporate Leadership on Vaccines (August 12, 2021)

Found: Corporate Leadership on Vaccines (August 26, 2021)

How F*cked Is Business Travel? (August 11, 2021)





1. Occasionally, I will put a guest author in Thunk Tank, and clearly label the author’s name to make it clear.

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