Black Swans, Dragon Kings and Gray Rhinos: The World War of 1914-1918 and the Pandemic of 2020-?   [open pdf - 0B]

From the Abstract: "It has become a commonplace among beleaguered leaders seeking to rally popular support that the COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic is a 'war,' albeit against an 'invisible enemy.' For a number of obvious reasons, a pandemic is very different from a war, of course. We think of a pandemic as a natural disaster, whereas a war as man-made. In a pandemic it is a pathogen that kills people, whereas in a war people kill people. Nevertheless, the two kinds of disaster have much in common--and not just the stark fact of excess mortality. Each belongs to that class of rare, large-scale disaster variously characterized as a black swan, a gray rhino or a dragon king. This paper focuses on one particular point of resemblance, namely the way both the war and the pandemic came as a surprise to most people, despite numerous warnings of the likelihood of such a disaster, and then proceeds to consider the epochal economic, social, political and geopolitical consequences of the war and what they might teach us about the possible consequences of the pandemic."

Report Number:
History Working Paper 2020-1
2020 Niall Ferguson
Retrieved From:
Hoover Institution: https://www.hoover.org/
Media Type:
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