David Bosshart: «What will be decisive is what we will imitate and ignore»

We are currently experiencing both high uncertainty and permanent pressure to make decisions, writes GDI CEO David Bosshart. An article about orientation, science and herd behaviour in the corona crisis.

With Covid-19, after climate change and the refugee crisis, we again have an issue that can monopolize our attention. Since expression of opinion and communication have never been so cheap and easy to activate, the current cacophony is no coincidence, but completely normal.

What seems much more important to me is that we are currently experiencing both high uncertainty and permanent pressure to make decisions in everyday life. Human behaviour patterns emerge very vividly: we ignore and imitate. One imitates what others do. In a hyper-networked world, herd behaviour emerges. The orientation is directed towards those who are suspected to be able to do better or have already done better: Asian countries like South Korea are seen as role models by some. Courageous ones want Swedish conditions. Experts play a secondary role: science is always much slower than political opinion and can only offer momentary partial truths. Science and technology give us incredible power over many things, but they do not tell us how and why we should use this power. Even the best available models fulfil an important function, but always have only a probabilistic value. It is no accident that experts are often not good practitioners. More and more knowledge does not increase security, but rather vulnerability, because with each answer ten new questions arise. Susceptibility to errors is increasing; in the worst case, it also offers room for craziness. Several presidents of not insignificant countries are examples of this.

What will be decisive is what we will imitate and ignore

But at least as important as imitation will be what we ignore in the future. Today's risks are social processes, and we can only survive by consistently ignoring almost everything that comes our way and focusing on important things that seem to ensure our survival. But what do we perceive and take seriously, what can we not ignore? Do we perform new rituals now - for example, no shaking hands or kissing when we greet each other? Do we get on a subway that implements social distancing? Or where masks are compulsory?

In a crisis, social distancing is primarily mental distancing

What is decisive is a quick and continuous ability to learn through knowledge exchange, wise pragmatism and discipline in implementation, particularly where we could endanger other people. In a crisis, social distancing is primarily mental distancing from communicative garbage. The number of things that we need not be aware of is growing exponentially. If I don't read the newspapers for a few days, don't follow Twitter, don't consume TV, switch off social media and breaking news completely, I almost inevitably become smarter, because I gain distance and in the best case scenario get out of the daily grind. What is really important? How much of what I have been doing repeatedly until now do I really need in order to live well?

Fatalism, indifference, selfish action are dangerous. How can we strengthen the collectivist sense we know from many Asian cultures - which wear masks as a precautionary measure out of respect for others - while preserving our individualism and personal freedoms?

Lockdown? GDI researchers also give presentations online.

GDI CEO David Bosshart will talk about the effects of the Corona crisis on the food, fashion and beauty industry at your online event.