Angela Merkel explained the scientific problem with 'overconfidence' in lifting lockdowns

German Chancellor Angela Merkel answered a question about determining how and when to lift the mitigation measures most countries have put into place during the coronavirus pandemic, and her answer shows us what it looks like to have a scientifically competent person leading a country.

Merkel is an honors graduate with a PhD in quantum chemistry, which undoubtedly makes her one of the most qualified heads of government in this pandemic. Germany, despite being hit hard by the virus, has managed to start flattening their curve and has a far lower death rate than most other countries. (This New York Times article explains some reasons for why that might be.)


Merkel explained why lifting lockdowns is a "fragile" situation that requires caution over overconfidence and described how exponential growth works. In clear terms, she showed how even a small increase in the reproduction number—how many infections an infected person causes—makes a huge difference in how taxed the health system will get.

Angela Merkel uses science background in coronavirus explainer www.youtube.com

Even with a translation from German, Merkel Comments on Merkel's video shared on Reddit show how much people appreciate a smart, educated, well-spoken person in charge—and how stark the contrast is with certain other leaders.

"Well, that's a Politician that understands basic numbers. Most others will try to deliver a speech they don't understand and butcher it."

"I'm flabbergasted seeing a politician explain the effects of exponential growth with cause and effect. This is so refreshing..."

"I don't understand. Why isn't she saying how great she is and how high the ratings will be for this clip?"

"Weird right? Also I am massively confused, but it feels like she uses long coherent sentences and I'm not used to that."

"When you are suddenly proud to be German and don't know how to deal with it. No, really. By comparison to many other countries, this must be my favorite response. I'm really not a fan of her politics at all, but I'm good with her response to this crisis."

On the one hand, seeing a leader who not only understands the science but can explain it simply is indeed refreshing. On the other hand, it shines an ugly spotlight on leadership that clearly does not understand the science and can't explain even the most basic concepts in full, coherent sentences.

And what's really sad is that no one even has to name a name for people to know who fits that bill.

Well done, Chancellor Merkel. Let us know if other countries can arrange to temporarily adopt you as our leader, please.

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


My husband and I had just finished watching "The Office" for the third time through and were looking for a new show to watch before bed. I'd seen a couple of friends highly recommend "Schitt's Creek," so we decided to give it a try.

My initial reaction to the first episode was meh. The characters were annoying and the premise was weird (pretentious and previously-filthy-rich family lives in a scuzzy motel in the middle of nowhere??). I felt nothing for the main characters, and I hate shows with horrible main characters that I can't root for. Even predicting that they were going to eventually be transformed by their small town experiences, I didn't see liking them. It didn't grab either of us as worth continuing, so we stopped.

But then I kept hearing people whose taste I trust implicitly talk about how great it was. I know different people have different tastes, but I realized I had to be missing something if these friends of mine raved on and on about it. So we gave it another shot.

It took a bit—I don't know how many episodes exactly, but a bit—to start liking it. Then a bit longer to start really liking it, and then at some point, it became a full-fledged, gushy, where-have-you-been-all-my-life love affair.

So when the show took home nine Emmy awards over the weekend—breaking the record for the most wins in a season for a comedy—I wasn't surprised. Here's why:

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$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

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The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn’t have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women’s rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn’t something we’d choose—and we’d hope others wouldn’t choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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Biases, stereotypes, prejudices—these byproducts of the human brain's natural tendency to generalize and categorize have been a root cause of most of humanity's problems for, well, pretty much ever. None of us is immune to those tendencies, and since they can easily slip in unnoticed, we all have to be aware of where, when, and how they impact our own beliefs and actions.

It also helps when someone upends a stereotype by saying or doing something unexpected.

Fair or not, certain parts of the U.S. are associated with certain cultural assumptions, perhaps none more pinholed than the rural south. When we hear Appalachia, a certain stereotype probably pops up in our minds—probably white, probably not well educated, probably racist. Even if there is some basis to a stereotype, we must always remember that human beings can never be painted with such broad strokes.

Enter Tyler Childers, a rising country music star whose old-school country fiddling has endeared him to a broad audience, but his new album may have a different kind of reach. "Long Violent History" was released Friday, along with a video message to his white rural fans explaining the culminating track by the same name. Watch it here:

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