April 26th, 2020

My tweets

Stockdale and Reality

One of the true heroes of my lifetime was James Stockdale, Vice Admiral, USN. His story is here and I recommend it. But I know him best for a piece of philosophy more applicable today than any other time in my life. It was discussed at length in the book 'Good to Great...' by Jim Collins. During his captivity as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, Admiral Stockdale embraced this paradox which kept him alive and mentally healthy:

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.'

I've been mulling over this philosophy for nearly 20 years now and sitting in my room under self isolation reading the news and the projections of the immunologists I now find it a piece of bedrock for me.

I was reading an article in the New York Times, a synthesis of science and projection of our new reality. Here is the section most relevant to our future:

"No one knows exactly what percentage of Americans have been infected so far — estimates have ranged from 3 percent to 10 percent — but it is likely a safe bet that at least 300 million of us are still vulnerable.

Until a vaccine or another protective measure emerges, there is no scenario, epidemiologists agreed, in which it is safe for that many people to suddenly come out of hiding. If Americans pour back out in force, all will appear quiet for perhaps three weeks.

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