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The Contagion Next Time$
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Sandro Galea

Print publication date: 2022

Print ISBN-13: 9780197576427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197576427.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 18 January 2022

Working in Complexity and Doubt

Working in Complexity and Doubt

(p.189) 11 Working in Complexity and Doubt
The Contagion Next Time

Sandro Galea

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies how, when we are faced with complexity and doubt, we can make decisions about health that align with the approach of the Cherokee Nation and avoid some of the mistakes made by other leadership teams during COVID-19. Working in complexity and doubt requires, above all, balance. On one hand, we must be able to identify what we do know and respect the science enough to integrate this information into the choices we make. On the other hand, we must appreciate the limits of our understanding while not being paralyzed by them. It is important to cultivate a comfort with ambiguity and doubt, so we can position ourselves to make decisions that support health. Operating in a grey area between knowledge and ignorance is, in many ways, a common practice in science and public health. The chapter then raises the issue of cancel culture, polarization, and political groupthink, arguing that they reflect something core to the collective relationship to ambiguity, doubt, and complexity. They suggest how uncomfortable many of us are with these fundamental elements of life.

Keywords:   health decisions, Cherokee Nation, COVID-19, complexity, doubt, science, public health, cancel culture, polarization, political groupthink

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