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Liz Foote Maui July 9, 2020

This article in The Atlantic by Zeynep Tufekci, “It Wasn’t Just Trump Who Got It Wrong,” is a fascinating exploration of America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic through the lens of systems thinking. It starts out with this assessment: “We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics,” then brings in concept after concept in systems theory to demonstrate how that has played out. For instance, nonlinearities, interrelatedness of system components, and coupling. It also references a number of cognitive biases related to how we have assessed the threat. Another theme of the article is the media response, which has showed the same asystemic characteristics. And this article was notably written during the third week of March, approximately 87 years ago in coronavirus time, making the points all the more salient.