Can a Summary Lie?

  • Models

Mr. Node did not like to be gagged by information failures. Too little knowledge about the effect of the pandemic on the micro level and too many possible (and therefore uncertain) influences on all other levels. But that’s how it was. He has to find a solution. But how?

He has to make a design of a toy pandemic in action. There is too much to take into account and too little to offer. How can he take into account upcoming contingencies, large or small?

Mister Node looks around to gain inspiration. His toy world must have actors who act out people. In terms of the pandemic actors are either susceptible, contagious (infective), or resistant. Actors are either one or the other or the third. So there are three compartments at this level.

But there is also a group of micro-actors: the virus. It consists of virus particles. A particle is called a virion. The coronavirus is the species, the coronavirion is the thing. In terms of direct connection to the pandemic, we need to have an idea of how the virion interacts with actors and vice versa.

And there is also a group of macro-actors that are formed by networks of actors. Node calls them institutions. He thinks of jurisdictions, the WHO, companies, associations and households and the like. Institutions are either exclusive or inclusive. Exclusive institutions also form compartments.

Mister Node believes that this first inventory of players in the toy world that he wants to make is in line with what he sees around him survive in the world.

What is still lacking is the ability to tell stories and to anticipate threatening opposing forces, even when unknown contingencies such as a new deadly virus are involved. Stories about the methods that the virus uses in terms of metabolism, logistics and reproduction are needed. As long as it is about the virus as a parasite of human actors, Mister Node additionally needs similar stories about the metabolism, logistics and reproduction of human actors and the institutions they form. Brace yourself, Node thinks.

But even if he does, how does he know those stories are not lies? He doesn’t know that. What he does know is that he is going to try to base the toy pandemic plan on a summary of the knowledge and experience that he has gained here and there. He is not looking for truth, but for usability. And that, given the circumstances, is all he can do.