Paul Bloom is the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He is past – president of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and co-editor of Behaviour and Brain Sciences. He has authored 7 books and written for scientific journals and popular outlets on his award-winning research which explores the way children and adults understand the physical and social world.
Transcription of the video
The most significant change could come from this pandemic, is preparation for the next pandemic. If the next pandemic is a bird flu, that kills over 50% of the people who get it, it could be a species ending event, could be the end of civilization. And if this pandemic leads us to prepare better for the next one. It could be the greatest blessing we can imagine.
Well, several sources of wisdom or several positive traits. We’ll need self-control to constrain our impulse to give it all up and not take precautions. We will need compassion for the people around us. Some who may be more vulnerable than we are, and will need most of all rationality, the ability not to be influenced by our prejudices and our biases, but instead think reasonably and rationally about a crisis that we find ourselves in.
The worst change that could come from this pandemic, which is plausible, and we see it, is xenophobia. We get very caught up in our own small group, and we are dismissive, or worse, cruel and accusatory towards other groups. We see this both in the political spectrum where Republicans and Democrats are responding very differently to pandemic and often in very ugly ways. And we also see that in a national perspective where countries are blaming other countries and not working together enough.
What will rescue people from this is actually a form of moral wisdom, is a recognition that we are all people, we all have equal rights, we all suffer the same, and that as moral decent creatures we do better by working together to combat a common problem, rather than to fight each other.
If I can give one bit of advice it would be to use our heads and not our hearts. I think our gut impulses are often xenophobic. They’re often cruel. They’re often panicked or not panicked enough. And I think we’re going to get through this in the best possible way, if we just reason intelligently we think about others and we don’t succumb to either bias or irrationality.