NPR, New York, Thomas Bain discussed on The Indicator from Planet Money

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Own situations. This message comes from. Npr sponsor the capital. One venture card. Right now you can earn one hundred thousand bonus miles. You can actually use when you spend twenty thousand dollars in your first year. What's in your wallet. Limited time offer terms apply see capital one dot com for details. This message comes from. Npr sponsor avalanche providing cloud based sales tax solutions for businesses of all sizes valera automatically integrates with more than seven hundred erp and ecommerce systems learn more at avalon dot com slash indicator azn. So okay who to what is basin it. It looks like it's this man. Thomas bain yes Who was enough magician slush philosopher and he came up with this thing called days rule in the seventeen hundreds so this was a while ago. He came up with this rule. And what are the rules. Say with much how you can estimate the probability of one thing happening given the another thing has happened or is likely to happen. So the odds that you're gonna go see your grandmother and then you're going to kill her you know is one probability the odds that you're gonna go see your grandmother and you're given that you have. A negative test is a different probability. Okay neither zero. But they are different. And that's what i mean by daisy like you haven't there's a certain probability you have a test. It's a negative result. So usually is. You're not gonna affect your grandmother. So how is this coming into play now. Because we're in sort of this particular moment with kobe where the cases are surging cities like it seemed like things had been opening back up but now it sort of seems like the trend nationally is that they're closing back down so this play into bays and and risk and we live our lives and deal with the holidays will the ideas you want to update your probabilities in risk assessments as new data comes in. Okay right you know your risk assessments of what's safe to do are going to change if your community infection rate is two percent fifty percent right right so you want to account for that also coming in next year as say treatments like anybody treatments. Become more available that also might affect your risk assessment so it's always updating with new information in fact if you remember back in march when they said two million americans we're gonna die if it's been all this criticism about those projections. It turns out that some of those projections were right because they didn't account for human behavior that people night distance so that was invasion daisy and widow is like giving us new information. Let's adjust our probability estimates. It seems like everybody's gone one of two directions either. Like stay inside with the mask and have no contact with other people or through your mask to the wind. forget it. let's just live our lives. It seems like there's been sort of a polarization. So is there like a basin middle ground yet. If you're in beijing you would occupy the middle ground. Which is you adjust your behavior as risks changes information changes right like back to your grandmother projection. Like how risky is this. Would it change if she got an early vaccine right right so that would be a busy and like all right vaccines hundred percent effective. It's ninety ninety five percent effective or ninety four percents effective at your elderly. So maybe then you would be more open to it and this is going to be really important in the coming year or rolled out. Some people are going to have it. Some people don't take a while for community herd immunity so a risk calculations are going to have to be changing really rapidly as next year rolls on so. What would a thanksgiving this year. Well it depends on your risk tolerance and also depends on where you live and how you could easily travel. Okay right. you're in a really high breakout. Stay the you know. Probably the odds of infecting other people and worsening. Those spread is very very high. If you're somewhere where it's less risky and you take a lot of precautions like getting tested. You know traveling by car still not a guarantee but probably a lower risk and is you want to when you make those decisions. Incorporate is a said like if i have a negative test. What is this not hero. But certainly lower than if i don't so what about you for your thanksgiving what are i know. You live here in new york What are you are your thanksgiving plans. Are they basin. They are an struggled with it. Because you know i you know. My mother doesn't live very far away. And so i can get there easily but like you don't have to get on a plane. No i get on a train. I've already gotten one rapid test. And i'm going to get a second one morning of leaving and i chose to go on a more expensive train. That is emptier. Where you can guarantee your own unseat. So i am taking. I'm taking a in approach. Okay and so. Your mother is obviously has not gotten a vaccine because nobody really has. She's in a higher risk group. Maybe so you have like sort of tried to mitigate risk in the kind of transportation you're taking and you're getting a couple of tests yes to to test one morning of and again it's not a guarantee. I'm definitely taking more risk than if i sat at home but as i said i- mitigating the risk to some extent. How do you think as a country. We are handling the covid. Res-q that we're facing right. Now i feel like it's a little like it's sort of government wise. It's such a hodgepodge of different cities and states having different reactions. And i mean when you're looking at this as an economist who specializes in risk like what you see. Well i think biggest failure. Policy-wise is the lack of testing. But also i think the other huge public health failure that people talk about a lot less is a risk communication i. I'm a very small school. That believes people can make good decisions but they have the information presented to them in ways. That makes sense then. It's natural to them and it makes sense in the problem is is you get sort of very mixed messages. You get either. It's fun go about your life or g you know this is terrifying. Never leave your home. And i think that's been the big public health failure that we're not really talking about right. Do you do any other. Economists things for thanksgiving do you like. I don't know. Divide the pie especially or something. Oh yeah i'm an economist. All the time even getting testing. It's a three hour. Wait where. I live net to get a test in new york and and i got so. I was in line the other day after three hours and got so annoyed. Because then i learned that there's a private clinic that bertin exorbitant fee. We'll just test you for for for money. There's no wait so then like in line being like what the value of my time and is this worth the fee that i thought was outrageous. So am i splurging pay for tests instead of taking one of the free. They're free. But like i notice those talking to people aligned that no one else was thinking about. Opportunity cost the way. I was business three or four hours of your time. Well happy thanksgiving alison. Thank you for talking with us. Youtube and i hope you have a great time with your with your mom. We'll be very busy on. This episode of the indicator was produced by nick fountain. Fact checked by sean sylvania. The indicator is edited by paddy hirsch. And his a production of npr. On the next episode of louder than what bobby schmertz case reveals about how conspiracy laws used against black and brown defendants group of growing up in an old press neighborhood with no organisation making no money. It's not a gang. Listen now to the podcast louder than a ride from npr music..

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