Weighing holiday risks

A few thought provoking pieces on Covid-19, risk, and holiday gatherings to help you think about the best way to spend your holiday season.

Normally this time of year, work begins to pick up and seems to move at a dizzying pace as we sprint toward the holidays. People begin to feel the crunch of preparations, social obligations, family expectations and trying to get it all done so they can step back from their desks and be present with loved ones.

This year feels, to put it mildly, a bit different. Things are busy, but rather than the anxiety of holiday chaos, most people are feeling the pressure of deciding what the holidays should look like as we log record numbers of infections and hospitalizations across the country.

The politicization of the virus response divides us and makes decision-making even harder. We all have natural biases and, in an increasingly polarized world, it’s hard to know when our bias and commitment to the position of our “team” is clouding our judgment when assessing the risk or considering all the information out there. A general—and sometimes very rational—lack of trust in our institutions and news sources makes it even harder to decide who to listen to about the relative facts.

With all this in mind, here’s a few thought provoking pieces on Covid-19, risk, and holiday gatherings to help you think about the best way to spend your holiday season.

  • COVID-19: How to Deal with Our Cognitive Biases, The Conversation – A helpful breakdown of the cognitive biases we all face in weighing information in a pandemic and some useful strategies for how to think clearly about the decisions we make, in spite of these biases.
  • Safety-Turducken, Emily Oster – Economist Emily Oster repurposes her “safety lasagna” concept for thinking about risks in re-opening schools and gives it a holiday get-together reboot. She lays out a helpful decision-making strategy in thinking about your holiday plans.
  • How to Tell if Socializing Indoors is Safe, The Atlantic – Health Reporter Olga Khazan does the legwork for you and calls up a number of experts to determine if socializing indoors is safe, and she links to some neat tools to help you think about the risks of various activities.