David Manheim: A Personal (Interim) COVID-19 Postmortem

by Linch1 min read1st Jul 2020No comments


ForecastingCOVID-19 pandemicBiosecurityCommunity

David Manheim, an EA superforecaster and policy researcher with a specialization in biosecurity, discusses various things he was wrong about on covid-19.

I think it's important to clearly and publicly admit when we were wrong. It's even better to diagnose why, and take steps to prevent doing so again. COVID-19 is far from over, but given my early stance on a number of questions regarding COVID-19, this is my attempt at a public personal review to see where I was wrong.
I have been pushing for better forecasting and preparation for pandemics for years, but I wasn't forecasting on the various specific questions about Pandemics on most platforms until at least mid-March, and I failed in several ways.

He then lists the ways he was wrong.

My take: overall, I thought it was a riveting read, though many of the mistakes are unsurprising for people who have been carefully watching the space, since his mistakes are unsurprisingly correlated with mistakes others have made. More broadly, I think this piece is incredibly valuable and I wish to see more things like it. As EA individuals and institutions become older and more professionalized, I am guessing that institutional pressures will increasingly push us further and further away from wanting to admit mistakes; so I sincerely hope we get in the habit of publicly recognizing mistakes early on, and that EAs as a culture should strongly encourage public admission of mistakes.

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