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Photo Credit: Mika Baumeister

Pandemic Inspired Errors and Slow Hunches


Steven Johnson’s error principle can be applied to the development of face masks. When the pandemic started a year ago, there were several misconceptions about the way that COVID-19 is transmitted from one person to another.

“We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness. And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus”. January 2020, Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Although the U.S. went into national lockdown on March 13th, 2020, the CDC did not recommend face coverings until April. Weeks after the national lockdown, the CDC and WHO testified that the public didn’t need to wear masks unless a person was experiencing symptoms or caring for someone who was.

Photo Credit: Kate Trifo

Slow Hunches

Johnson’s ideas about slow hunches can be also be applied to the pandemic.



This is a midterm project that is part of IMM 170 at The College of New Jersey. The class is called “What’s Old is New” and we use books by Walter Isaacson and Steven Johnson for discussion. We welcome public commentary and feedback.

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