My No Covid-19 Vaccination

A story from two points of view at once

View on the detail (the story)

On Easter Sunday around noon I was standing on the driveway to Tegel airport. Actually I had thought that I am the coolest dog, because I drive up to my Corona vaccination with the motorcycle. In fact, however, there were many even cooler dogs, because much older and with even bigger machines. At the checkpoint at the entrance to the airport there was a traffic jam. Car drivers, motorcyclists and some who came on electric bikes. Pedestrians were checked at another entrance.

I was turned away. I had expected that. I had been happy to get a vaccination appointment – happier than I had expected. A few days before my appointment, however, it was then decided throughout Germany that under-60s should no longer be given AstraZeneca, the vaccine that had been scheduled for my appointment, because of complications in some cases.

Looking at the big picture (the data)

Women were more affected than men – in Germany, there were exactly 2 in men. Two complications in one million men who had been vaccinated. The probability that I (a man) would have complications was therefore 1 in 500,000. That is very, very unlikely.

Looking at the detail (the story)

I had read somewhere that in Stuttgart people who already had an appointment could get vaccinated if they would do it at “their own risk”. I would definitely do it at my own risk, 1:500,000 seems a small risk to me, compared to the risk of getting severely ill with corona. But in Berlin, other rules apply, and so I could watch men with big beards as they sped towards the airport, which had been rededicated as a vaccination center. I drove home again.

The next morning, while brushing my teeth, I had something like the following thought: Some other monkey got my vaccine yesterday. If I get Covid now, it’s the fault of those up there, the politicians, who make stupid decisions beyond mathematics because they’ve been so rattled by the people’s voice (or at least 10% of the people’s voice) that they no longer look at the numbers but at the impact it could have if stories of vaccine complications spread (which, no matter how unlikely they were, were sure to come). Gasoline on the fires of the believers of know-it-alls.

So the vaccine dose landed not in my arm the day before, but in another. And another monkey (the one belonging to the other arm) is thus protected.

Looking at the big picture (the data)

Since the vaccine is not dumped, but simply distributed in a different way, nothing happens from the perspective of the whole. Instead of one group, another group is vaccinated first and the first group is vaccinated later. At the moment, the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible, given limited capacities. It doesn’t matter who they are. You just have to set an order and because you don’t want to do it according to the size of their wallets or the number of connections (like recently with the accesses to the hip app Clubhouse or at an earlier time to Gmail), you just do it in the order of how at risk someone is to fall ill with Corona. Something like that, at least.

Looking at the detail (the story)

I personally don’t feel so much at risk, I have to say, but I ended up on this list.

Looking at the big picture (the data)

The politicians who were responsible for this decision (i.e. not to vaccinate under 60-year-olds with this vaccine) had to decide. – Ok, there is a certain risk (a very small one in men) that complications could occur with this vaccine. So what does more harm, if the decision makers change their ‘opinion’ and thereby unsettle the people – or the politicians stick to the given direction and through the inevitable stories coming over the country (2 stories for every 500,000 vaccinated) the people are unsettled. Either way, the people will be unsettled (perhaps other groups in each case, but anyway). In the matter it makes no difference, because no matter how the decision turns out, the number of vaccinated increases.

And so the politicians simply decided the way they did.

Looking at the detail (the story)
Of course, this is rather stupid for me now.

View on the whole (the data)
Actually, it doesn’t matter.

Rhetoric – disease of our time

When I was a child, my father said a sentence that got stuck in my brain: “If you want to understand something, you only have to imagine it in the extreme, then it becomes clear.” I have thought about this sentence for many years. It is nonsense. Because things don’t become clearer in the extreme, but turn into something completely different instead.

Water for example. If you want to understand water, it doesn’t help much to look at water in its extremes. Water above 100 degrees Celsius is steam, below 0 degrees – ice. Water takes on a different state at the extremes. You can look at ice and steam as long as you want, and you will still never understand water.

The damned rhetoric loves to present things in the extreme. It is the disease of our time. Most people do it reflexively, and most media work that way. And so it happens that with all the extreme stories we are bombarded with every day, instead of more to clarity, they lead to ever greater confusion.

A little text that might change your life

It’s up to you, you have two ways to deal with this text. Either you embrace it, focus on it, explore it and not just today, you make it a habit to reflect on this text. Then this text will change your life.

Or, you put it aside, forget it. Then your life will go on in the usual way.

When you explore this text, it becomes a door, a door into another reality. But this text is not the only door to this other reality.

There are many doors, perhaps an infinite number of doors, and yet most people spend their lives finding none. Anything can be a door. Just like this text, if one focuses one’s attention on it, makes it a habit, does not forget it and concentrates on it again and again. Many things can be a door. But it is not the door, it is going through the door that brings one into this other reality.

Gifted

I go to the supermarket and take what I want. I put everything in a shopping cart until I have enough. At the exit of the supermarket I show a plastic card and then there is some mumbo jumbo going on that has to do with numbers. Numbers that are entered into a machine . Sure, I know of course that there is money being debited from my account, I know the story. But if I forget the story for a moment, just for the fun of it….

So there’s some mumbo jumbo going on with a plastic card. I think back to when I was a kid. As a little boy, I had to go to church every Sunday. My father took me and somehow we always stood at the back of the church. Today I my explanation is that we were always late, presumably my father didn’t want to go to church either, but he thought it was good for his son. And even if we had been on time, I don’t see my father as the guy who would have gone all the way to the front and then planted himself in the bench where everyone would see him. For whatever reason, we were in the back.

Sometimes my father would allow me to sit on the steps leading up to where the choir was at Christmas. I was grateful to him for that every time. The church was boring and a torture. Only at the end something exciting happened. That was obviously the highlight of the event, what it all boiled down to was when the man standing at the front on the stage performed the trick with the egg, which he turned into something. The man was a magician who wore a wondrous robe. Everyone looked at him when he held the egg above his head and then hid it under a cloth, under which it would surely turn into a rabbit or something, I had seen something similar on TV. Each time I stood on my tiptoes, but unfortunately I could never see it clearly, because we were standing so far back. As I grew older and wiser, I learned that it was not a magic trick with an egg, but simply a wafer that turned into the body of Christ. It took a few more decades until I realized that the notion of a trick to impress all those present was the right one.

In any case, I have to think about this every time I stand at the checkout in the supermarket. The thing with the card is also such a magical moment, a story to which we have become accustomed and which therefore seems completely normal to us, but when I try to understand it I can only marvel at the miraculous mechanism that people have invented there.

If you didn’t have to pay at the exit, I, like probably everyone else, would take all kinds of stuff from the shelves, stuff that I don’t even need. I would probably drag too much stuff home and end up throwing it away.

The plastic card mumbo jumbo seems to, if not prevent that entirely, at least limit it considerably. We take what we need.

Super system. The monkeys have thought that one up neatly. So that I monkey no longer have to run into the forest to laboriously gather the stuff I need for breakfast, but only have to push a shopping cart into the supermarket to take the stuff from the shelves, ready to spread and portioned.

But it gets even more awesome. The monkeys who have not invented supermarkets, that is, the monkeys who still sit in the forest on trees, they always eat the same. So not always exactly the same, but always what grows in immediate vicinity on the trees or elsewhere. Modern monkeys like us, with our supermarkets can eat what grows anywhere on the planet, and of course we eat only the best.

I noticed this after visiting friends in Switzerland. They had such a great salt, with herbs in it. The herbs came from Italy and the salt from the Himalayas. “Wow, I’ve never eaten such a great salt before,” I said, and when we were back home my wife found the salt in the supermarket. The greatest salt in the world now sits in our kitchen. And if there is really something that is not available, you can order it on the Internet. Again, with some mumbo jumbo with a plastic card and numbers, only you don’t even need a plastic card and you even get the stuff delivered to your home and carried up to the third floor. It’s all very convenient. If I had to go all the way to Italy myself for the herbs and had to scrape the salt out of the Himalayan mountains, of course I wouldn’t take the trouble.

We modern monkeys, we all hang in such a system. The system that we monkeys have thought up ourselves and developed over thousands of years. The system, it is so complex and wonderful that one could shiver with awe. Curiously, most people complain about it all the time or say that it’s terribly unfair because there are far too many who can’t go to the supermarket and eat the best salt in the world. And there’s truth to that, of course. The system doesn’t work equally well for everybody yet. But I would say the system is working better and better, and if you look back in time, you can see that it works better and better over time, and more and more people around the world are benefiting from it.

To the monkeys in the trees, this should all seem like a miracle. If they had a word for miracle.

Sense and Senselessness

Sky over Gülitz

Problems that are easy to solve were solved a long time ago. They have died out. Only problems whose solution is not easy have survived and that is also logical, because otherwise they would have already been eliminated from the world once and for all a long time ago by some friendly monkey. The world without easy to solve problems, that is the world in which we live in.

So we are still surrounded by problems, but problems whose solution is not easy. This makes our world on the one hand very comfortable, because many stupid problems are already solved, and on the other hand very interesting, because we can now devote all our attention to tricky, challenging questions. Problems that cannot be solved with a single brain alone. Interesting problems, exciting problems, that is our world.

Every now and then we encounter a monkey who announces in a rather loud voice that everything is very simple. Then he explains anything. But it is better not to make the effort to understand what this monkey actually means. Because it is insanely improbable that there are still problems in our world where **everything** is **simple**. Very simple problems, as I said, are extinct.

And the monkey that roars so loudly actually belongs to the time when all monkeys roared loudly. It is as simple as that. But of course, it’s not that simple after all. Because loudly roaring monkeys like to attract the attention of other monkeys, who have not yet dealt with the respective problem, and therefore are capable of believing what the loud monkey roars, and they like to believe: “Oh, it’s all quite simple.”

Monkeys who have a clue not only speak more softly, they also speak more complicated. They say things like: “On the one hand and on the other hand” and “one must weigh between” and it is “more or less probable”, “it can be said (however) that…”.

A sentence that begins with “With a high degree of probability…” cannot be shouted and is not particularly catchy.

But exactly this can be used to distinguish the foolish from the wise with simple means. Not always and every time, but with a sufficiently high probability to distinguish the sense from the nonsense even in topics of which one has not the much of an idea oneself. You just have to build a filter and the filter works like this: Every time someone uses words like “everything”, “never”, “everywhere”, “nowhere”, “absolutely”, “always” and the like, you can safely direct your attention in another direction, because the probability of finding knowledge in the direction of the source of these words is so low that looking there is not worthwhile.

In this manner, a lot of nonsense can be faded out. And that makes life easier and more relaxed and also much more interesting.