may 18, 2020
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the show covid doesn’t want you to see. tom and rp play catch up with recent episodes of rp daily. tom, who is in alabama on his drive down the mississippi river, notes the impact of the 90,000 deaths from covid-19. this news is dismal, but it opens up tom and rp’s conversation: what are the 10 things each that they think we have learned and will change as a result of the covid-19 pandemic? with a useful and refreshing perspective, tom takes on the subject of marginalized americans and how they are reacting to the pandemic; rp discusses leadership, communities, and the natural beauty of america. all the while, tom and rp dive into the popular culture of the mississippi, including elvis, the allman brothers, Netflix’s “Last Chance U,” and larry gordon. listeners who want a recap of recent rp daily episodes will find this episode helpful.
tom scott is chairman & co-founder of the nantucket project. rp eddy was the architect of the Clinton administration’s pandemic response framework and the United Nations response to the global AIDS epidemic & is CEO of global intelligence firm Ergo.
rp is co-author of the best-selling award-winning book Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes with Richard A. Clarke, Former National Security Council counterterrorism adviser.
Tom Scott [00:00:21] Good morning. My name is Tom Scott. I’m on a beautiful train bridge, I’m no longer used. This is the Tennessee River, Tennessee River, and it’s the border between Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Florence, Alabama. And I’m joined, as always with R.P. Eddy, hi R.P. Eddy. Welcome, R.P. Really, though, today, even though I’m Alabama, I’m just across the border. The Natchez Trace, which is this great drive, takes you in here. We got here last night. It really was Mississippi day. We were in Mississippi all day. And it was an amazing day. Probably the most uplifting day of the trip. You know, really we we saw a lot which I’ll share. I’m going to share. So we’ve been on this journey. We went to the course of the Mississippi. We did shows along the way and now we’re in, as I said, Alabama. And I talked about how, what a highlight Mississippi was yesterday. So I’m gonna outline that and talk about Mississippi. Before we do that, there’s two things I want to mention. One is we have dashboard today where we’re just going to go through statistics and news. We’re going to use it as a way to continue to track ourselves as we go forward. That’s number one. And then number two, R.P. and I spoke over the weekend. We said, hey, let’s look at the 10 observations that we have to date over the course of these conversations on the course of what we’ve seen happening. So we’re gonna go through those today. He and I have not looked at each other’s. So there may be crossover. There may not be. We’re going to do this as an exercise. And what we decided is, you know, it is we see things that we want to go deeper and we’ll go deeper. But today, we’ll be relatively surface as it relates to that. OK, so. So first thing I want to do is go through the dashboard. Then we’re gonna go through Mississippi. Then we’ll get into the 10 and just a couple of notes on the dashboard, R.P.. So, there’s just there’s dispute, disputes over some of this data, which is not the purpose of this, but I just want acknowledge that when we start, because there are some who say we crossed ninety thousand deaths yesterday, some say we were at ninety nine and I’m sorry, eighty nine and a half thousand. But there are ninety thousand deaths so far from this disease in the United States and. That’s about as bad as it gets. You know, there are just in the sense that the worst of this is that people get sick and die. You know, there are people get sick and stay sick. People suffer on the front lines. There’s a variety ways that people are suffering. People are suffering from a lack of food. People are suffering from a lack of medical care and other problems that come with this challenge. But deaths is a statistic that we will be following. Who’s open? There’s four states that remain on lockdown. Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey and Delaware, as well as Washington, D.C. and in Puerto Rico and in eleven states, counties and regions are opening. You know, most of those states will open over the short period of time next couple of weeks, let’s say, and the rest of the states are thirty one that are in some state of reopening right now, just start there R.P. I guess both the deaths and the openings. Obviously there’s some correlation. Correlation only in the sense that by closing I think we probably limited the number of deaths and now that we reopen, we increased risk. How do you feel about sort of where the rollout is now and then? And just on a general sense?
R.P. Eddy [00:03:59] What’s interesting about this, right. So remember, we it’s important that everyone just kind of remembers. This disease does not live endemically. It’s not part of our natural habitat. It’s not in the trees. It’s not in the dogs. Not in the apples. Right. It’s in people. So the whole reason we’re flattening the curve is to get the disease out of people. People have… a lot of people, for example, New York had the virus. You know, a certain percentage died, a much larger percentage thank god survived. Either way, the virus leaves those people. And then it leaves the environment and it leaves the ability to infect you and me. So right now we’ve paid a cost to reduce the amount of virus effectively floating around in our fellow citizens. That’s what we’ve done through this flattening the curve process. So now we reemerge and we reemerge into a safer environment. There’s less virus floating around. Ideally, if we do this right, than there was before. And in some parts of the country, there’s very, very little of the virus floating around. There are some counties in America with, you know, well, less than 100 cases, sometimes one or zero. That means it’s not floating around in people unless there’s travel. Welcome to America. There’s travel. Welcome to summer, there’s travel. Welcome to a country where people are probably not going to use the planes this summer as much. They’re going to probably do a lot more cars. So you might see a lot. And then we talked about this two months ago. We might start to see a lot of spread of this disease along highways as people drive across the country and sort of do what Tom’s doing. So so that’s where we were reenter every model right now, including the one the White House favors, which you can presume is a very optimistic model, including my model, our model at ERGO says we’re a little more than halfway done with the deaths we’ll get before August 1st. It’s a horrible piece of news. There’s probably one hundred and fifty total, hundred fifty thousand total U.S. deaths before this is over. At least we think higher. The White House model says 150. You think a bit higher. And those are people that are, some are infected now and some that are gonna be infected as we do this, we are reopening. So how do we reduce that? You know, hand-washing, social distancing, mask wearing in the reverse order, mask wearing, mask wearing, mask wearing, mask wearing, social distancing hand-washing. So that’s what’s coming. And all those people who are going to die between now and August 1st are going to largely be because they’re going to get exposed as we reopen. So as much as we can minimize that, the lower those numbers go.
Tom Scott [00:06:47] Yeah.
R.P. Eddy [00:06:47] Not great news, but a reality.
Tom Scott [00:06:49] Yeah, well, and helpful information at a minimum. Let me highlight Mississippi really quickly, because I want to talk about Mississippi in a moment. There’s eleven thousand just, just north of 11000 confirmed cases. There was five hundred and ten deaths. Mississippi is kind of in the middle of the pack in terms of its like percentage infected, etc. You know, it’s, it’s near the bottom of the country as it relates to health care, education, economic heat, economy and infrastructure. So, you know, on paper, it it has its challenges. They just reopened and retail stores are open. Food and drink is open. We went to, what’s it called, Cracker Barrel last night and they just had takeout and it was quite safe. Like the way it was managed was really good. State parks and gyms are open and personal care salons et cetera are open. Opening soon, entertainments and casinos, there’s casinos here and other things. But that’s just a snapshot on, on Mississippi. We’ll give snapshots as part of this, this dashboard over time just thought it made sense to do Mississippi today. And look, I can’t be so scientific because this trip has been only two weeks so far. And but I would say our best observation is that Mississippi seems to be pretty responsible as it relates to the number of masks we see, the places that we’ve gone into. We visited Eastern Mississippi Community College yesterday. If you’ve ever seen “Last Chance U” on Netflix. We were at that school. That school was appropriately shut down. And, you know, and that seems to be true kind of across the state. So I want to keep today’s dashboard relatively tight because we’ve got a lot to get to. R.P. If there’s anything you want to comment on there. Before we go, I just want to go just quickly through my experience in Mississippi yesterday.
R.P. Eddy [00:08:51] So everything other than the Muscle Shoals comments, everything we’ve just discussed the last few minutes has been very negative. There’s some very positive news today. We could do it. I don’t know how you want to splice this in the Maderna a vaccine trial. So Maderna is a very large vaccine manufacturer, a very large pharma company. They have been working there, one of 100 efforts trying to build a vaccine. They published yesterday, I think, or certainly no later than Friday, no earlier than Friday that they have had in their initial phase trial, they’ve had a safety response and an efficacy response in humans with their vaccine. So there’s lots of stages to go through to get large scale efficacy, large scale safety. This was the initial dosing safety trial out of three phases. And it was positive, really. Like, that’s great, great news. This is called an MRNA vaccine, which is a new type of vaccine never used before. You recall Laurie Garrett mentioning last week our cassandra from our book, one of the great scientific minds of our day, that MRNA vaccines have never been used before. And we have to be very careful about safety. So there’s a lot more testing necessary, but great news. One of the great vaccine companies with a big initiative has already had positive results with their vaccine. So that’s that’s super good news.
Tom Scott [00:10:11] And R.P., when you go through that first phase, is it like a pass fail situation?
R.P. Eddy [00:10:15] Yes.
Tom Scott [00:10:16] Is there better…
R.P. Eddy [00:10:17] So there’s lots of pass fails. There’s lots of like, you’re out. There’s a lot of vetoes in these tests. Right. So obviously there’s safety trials, efficacy trials, then larger scale safety and efficacy efficacy. There’s dosing trials. What’s the dose needed to be? The good news on this Maderna trial was the initial dosing test. How much of the vaccine you need to be effective showed that the lower, the lower doses worked. And that’s great for two reasons. One is they can distribute more if at lower doses needed. And two, you generally have a lower side effect profile as you have lower doses.
Tom Scott [00:10:55] OK. That is good news. So, so hope there. I’m going to transition. You ready to roll.
R.P. Eddy [00:11:03] Do it.
Tom Scott [00:11:04] OK. So. Three names I want to mention, one is Amanda Miller, Amanda Miller is somebody watches this each day and, R.P., and she, she wrote me and asked why Mississippi got no mention on the trip down the Mississippi now. We did do a story from Vicksburg, but I guess we weren’t talking much about Mississippi at the time, but we were we did do a show from Mississippi. But then we went into New Orleans, Louisiana, all the way to the Gulf. And then when we left New Orleans, we came up through Mississippi, it was a day of Mississippi. And so, Amanda. This one’s for you. You know, we did take a good look at Mississippi. I want to talk a bit about Mississippi. On the other one is Freddie Camalier, who I mentioned before I was in.. It was fun to go back and forth with Freddie last night. I saw Freddie Camalier on July the 6th in Boulder, Colorado, we were both at the Grateful Dead, Dead and Company, last show of the season, and I bumped into him there. But this is someone I’ve known my whole life, played football together. And he made “Muscle Shoals.” So when I was back and forth with him last night, just talking about our trip and what we had seen, and he’s setting us up with some things we’re going to do today as we travel around here. And, as was mentioned, this is a incredible music was made in this town. And at this one location and you mentioned the Swampers, the Allman Brothers were swampers, you know, different.. the people who came out of this story is just amazing. The other one I want to mention is Larry Gordon. If you if you came to TNP, I’m going to say it was three or four years ago, Larry Gordon. I think he was born in thirty five, thirty six, something like that. He’s right around the same age as my father. And he’s from Yazoo, Mississippi. And he knew Elvis. He went on to become Aaron Spelling’s driver in California. And he made, you know, Smokey and the Bandit. He made Field of Dreams, Boogie Nights, I mean, movies you can’t believe. What’s the one? “Yippee ki yay, mfer.”
R.P. Eddy [00:13:08] Uh, Bruce Willis.
Tom Scott [00:13:09] The Tower, that one.
R.P. Eddy [00:13:11] Or Diehard?
Tom Scott [00:13:12] Diehard. He made all those movies, anyway. Big movie producer and just the nicest guy and a great storyteller. He was another guy I was in touch with as we were coming through Mississippi yesterday. And again, you know it, people from Mississippi see member real fondness for where they’re from and most of us and I’m talking about us Northeasterners.. we just think bad things about Mississippi. You know, we think racism. And, you know, bottom of the food chain as it relates to education and income and all these other things. And I know I say “we.” That’s unfair. Some, some people do. It seems to be the reputation. And I know that when we came in here, Joe, who I’m traveling with, he mentioned it too. And it is generally treated in some ways as a stepchild. And that was Amanda’s point when she wrote yesterday. But I’ve got to tell you, it was just such a day. It was such a day was it was you know, the people were so nice and they were so optimistic. Again, I’m not trying to be scientific here, but for what it’s worth, when we see anyone, we start in and we want to hear a few things like, you know, what has them upset, what has them hopeful? You know, who, where do they stand politically and how much are politics a part of the way they navigate this whole process? The balanced nature of the people we spoke to, you know, we talked about racism with people, we were with a family at the birthplace of Elvis yesterday. And this you guys should run this picture. But this is the home that Elvis was born and that was built by his father. And when we got there, it was close. It was just Joe and I and a black family from Alabama. And so we talked and we got into all these different questions and we talked about racism. They love the people around here. People time and again, when I identify there’s a few bad ones out there, they’d kind of say it that way. But just the tenor in the way they reacted was so powerful to me. It was very, very matter of fact and very hopeful. And again, everyone’s so friendly to us when we speak to them. When we went through Tupelo, that’s where Elvis was born. We were in Tupelo and we were outside a bar and they had like a gathering having because now they can go outside again. And they were all outside. They were all relatively far away from each other. They did those crawfish boil. And it was a mix of black people and white people all hanging out together. Again, unscientific. I mean, this isn’t a massive sample set, but very hopeful. We stopped. We talked to them, socially distanced, wearing a mask. You know, they, they’ve been challenged, but they weren’t bitter, they weren’t bitter. And then we saw that time and again kind of throughout the trip. And, you know, Tupelo was a place and yes, we cranked Tupelo. Honey, I probably hit replay 15 times as we were coming through. I’m not kidding. Joe is like, is he gonna do it again? And I did it again. And anyway, it was just such an uplifting day. We did a big workout at Eastern Mississippi Community College, which is again as the school from “Last Chance U” and again, we run into people and again, everyone was really nice to us and here’s what I would say. Here’s here’s the top line. The top line is that. They feel like they have been through a big challenge. They they have some level of fear, but their general tenor seems to be really one of optimism and not one to blame. And they also… I think one of the things about the way we think near where we live, R.P., and say coastal places, we think nationally about just about everything, know everything’s national, national, national. Not that that’s a bad thing. But here they really think about their own communities. I mean, they’re really of their communities and this is their life and their place and some of the questions I’d ask, you know, they think like, I don’t know, I don’t pay any attention to that. You know, they don’t pay attention to a lot of the squabbles and the different things that we get into. So I want to just to tell that Mississippi story, because it was very hopeful. And it made me realize, and you’ve heard me say this before, and it just proves itself time and again. You know, Twitter is a lie. I keep saying that. I believe that the tenor of Twitter, the message of Twitter is not what you see in reality. And of course, I’m generalizing, you know, that when we first came into the state, we were pulled over at a roadblock. And the roads look exactly like they look from “Mississippi Burning,” tree lined roads that wind up and down. We never do interstates. We’re always on the back roads. And so we were a little anxious. And after we went by Joe, who I’m traveling with, he said it is like I was scared, like I was a little scared too. The long story short is that the Mississippi brand, the Mississippi brand, as I perceive it in quarters like ours, it’s unfair and and it is wrong. Now, a lot of people in Mississippi would say the same thing. And I don’t know exactly what I mean specifically when you get down to the data, but I know what I mean when I say tenor. I know what I mean to say the way we were treated. I know the way that they I observe they treat each other. You know, this isn’t my first time in Mississippi, but it was it’s the first time I’ve been in a while. And there was something really striking about it. So that’s my ode to Mississippi yesterday, as I mentioned, across the border. Now I’m in Alabama. And we’ll tour around Muscle Shoals today and see what’s happening here. But that’s my update on that. I don’t know if you have anything you want to talk about as it relates to Mississippi, R.P.
R.P. Eddy [00:18:53] No. I think there’s probably… I think the Mississippi brand historically back in the 60s was probably well deserved. But there’s probably been a tremendous number of angels and civil servants and, you know, race workers and others that have changed that state to what you see now, didn’t you? Probably. It was probably a very hard fought, in some ways, bloody evolution.
Tom Scott [00:19:20] Yeah, that’s very fair, or as it was, to the best of my knowledge, that’s a very fair assessment and I think the bottom line is like our blanket statements and I know I’m making them and I’m walking a fine line here. We got be careful about this, right? I mean, blanket statements are you’re in dangerous territory every time you kind of do that. So.
R.P. Eddy [00:19:45] I like your point about national versus local focus as well. I think that’s really nice. I spend my life, my life, right, since college has been global or national focus, which is where I worked, where I’ve been paid. And this pandemic really makes you look at county by county numbers and family by family stories, local. We used to say, ironically, when I worked for Dick Clark at the NSC, the office was called Global Issues and Multilateral Affairs. Big government title, right? And the title was, I think was the opposite. Right? Think local act global. Whereas, you know, the bumper sticker says Think global act local? We did it backwards.
Tom Scott [00:20:35] Yeah.
Tom Scott [00:20:37] Yeah, it’s, um, you know, when I started Nantucket Nectars, when Tom and I started Nantucket Nectars. The goal was to be in twenty four accounts on Nantucket. That was the goal. Now, we were young, we were naive, and about a year and a half later it was to be in seventy two accounts on the Cape, but never, “we’re gonna be in every state.” I don’t think anyone starts a business today thinking that way now. And by the way, we weren’t the norm. You didn’t. Everything wasn’t national, national, national. Nowadays, every, you know, everything’s gonna be everywhere. And not that there’s necessarily something so wrong with that per say. But I think there’s also something to, you know, nuance in the granular nature of where you are and the appreciation for the people around you. Because let’s, you know, in a certain way, if you remember that photo I showed of End America. It’s an arbitrary set of lines. Generally speaking. I mean, you know that our, us three hundred and thirty people set between these two states that are far away in the forty eight or they’re all next to each other. You know, it can be thought of in so many different ways and I think it’s healthy to think of it in those ways. And I should add, you know, you read the story of babble. It’s hard for three hundred and thirty million people to be one thing. I mean, that’s just a really hard thing to even consider, let alone to be part of 10 million people being one thing. So it’s just such an interesting moment in that way. And the Internet really taught us that everything is everywhere at all times. And. Yeah. In a certain sense, that’s true. But there’s another side of that equation. I think we’ve lost a little bit and as you journey back into it, it can feel really good. So.
R.P. Eddy [00:22:11] I think, we’re not we’re not going do it now. But I think it’s really worth unpacking the value of understanding that three hundred and thirty million people in one country should share some things. We should aspire to share some things. But we probably have let ourselves off the hook of being some blended homogeneity because we’re not.
Tom Scott [00:22:28] Right. That’s right. OK. So R.P., I am totally open to the format. You want to do this? Since I have my 10 observations, R.P. has his. We could do one and one and go all the way through. What do you think?
R.P. Eddy [00:22:42] Well, I sure. I ordered mine. We could try to do one. We probably should try to one on one. And then because we’re gonna have a lot of overlap. So my my order is like the reality. What, what seem like smart steps now and big lessons sort of from near term to a long term, for example, that’s how I’ve ordered mine. We haven’t seen each other’s lists. Why don’t you kick it off with your first one or, and then I’ll see if our matches with mine or if it’s new.
Tom Scott [00:23:16] Sure. And it’ll be interesting to see sort of the scope of each of our statements. But let’s say so I’ll start mine. My first one is our next move will be about choosing which risks and which casualties to endure. It’s my first one.
R.P. Eddy [00:23:37] Yeah. That lines up with, that lines up with my second one, which is sort of there is no easy way out. Right. So it sounds like you’re saying, you’re saying we are, we’re going to take some casualties. We have to do is choose where they’re going to be. And I, and I what I said was this will not be a win win lose. This is a lose lose. And I think that it’s a tragedy we have to do all we can to lessen the blow, but the punches are going to land, but it’s going to end. So I guess my addition to your point was the Stockdale paradox, which I think we’ve talked about, that we have to accept the hard reality of the difficulty. If we don’t accept that, we’ll go crazy, we’ll think it can be over tomorrow. If you listen to the vaccine news we discussed fifteen minutes ago and you say it’s all going to be over by fall. You’ll drive yourself bonkers. Do you want me to do one now.
R.P. Eddy [00:24:36] Sure. So the first one on my list. It’s one of the first things we talked about, which is that our body and our brain both are flummoxed by this virus. Right. The virus can kill our body just as it outlasts our brain. The pandemic, sorry, the panic of living in a viral pandemic overloads our rational brain and makes us very reactive. Our monkey brains rule right now, our limbic brains rule right now, and that leads us to be stupid, to reduce our circle of empathy and to be panicked. Right. So my first my first assessment of this whole thing is our bodies can be killed by this and our brains can be fooled by something that they’re not designed to understand. Right. This is viral growth as we talked about the saber tooth tiger. So this this thing, this panic makes us reactive. Monkey brains, limbic and not proactive. Not other centers. So the initial response to this virus by all of us is not the way we want to think of ourselves. And I think if we just acknowledge that, that’s a powerful start.
Tom Scott [00:25:48] You know, I do morning routines each day and I like to journal. Reading that each day would be very helpful to me. I think it’d be helpful to a lot of people, I think just to just to prepare yourself for the day, because each day sort of carries these things and, you know, we can lose our centers and therefore ability to see as quickly or as clearly as we need to. All right. I’ll go to my second one. Protecting the vulnerable is the man on the moon. So protecting the vulnerable is really our moon shot here. We’ve got to make that a clear position and executable position and we’re gonna have to do difficult things, almost unthinkable things, unthinkable in the sense that it’s hard to imagine what we may have to do to do it well. But I think the man on the moon analogy is not so bad.
R.P. Eddy [00:26:38] I think that’s great. So that, that has been I think as you and I learn more and more about this. The policy solution that makes most sense to me is that one right? Obviously wear the mask. Find the vaccine, do the MPI. Everything we’re doing. But I don’t know why we haven’t seen more attention to protecting the vulnerable because they are 20 to 300 times more likely to die vulnerable than people under fifty five. So there are ages of people and there are people with medical conditions that are hundreds of times more likely to die than some young healthy people. So that that is a must do thing. I agree. And it kind of correlates with my so, we don’t have 20 that correlate, I’ll one of my 10, which is we’re not all in this together. We’re not all in this together. Right. This is crushing the communities that traditionally are left behind. That’s no surprise. But it shouldn’t be a surprise. The communities in this country that traditionally have the crappiest access to food and health care, that are underrepresented, underserved, are the ones who, A, are dying at much higher rates than others, African-Americans, the elderly are dying. The poor are dying at much higher rates than others. Part of that’s because of how they entered this disease. Less health. Part of it is there may even be a genetic basis to this disease to select some of them, but we’re not all in this together.
Tom Scott [00:28:16] OK.
R.P. Eddy [00:28:17] So those are bad news ones.
Tom Scott [00:28:19] Yeah, I have, yeah. Well, I mean, protecting the vulnerable is a minimum and I think we should do that. But. But anyway. And. Again, reality and this actually, so here you go. You just kind of walked into it: trustworthiness and courage are required from those who point the way out. That, the trustworthiness side of that, I hope that one is self evident, the courage one… I just, I know. I so believe that for many leaders right now… people don’t like that word, leaders, I understand where they’re coming from to a certain extent, but what I’m trying to say is that people of authority in certain places, whatever those places may be, they will not get the rousing set of applause when they point the way out. They’re going to, they are going to deal with sniping and challenges and problems and unknowns in a way that many, maybe many of them have not in their entire careers. So that courage part, trustworthiness, I hope, goes without saying. Courage, though they kind of need it more than ever.
R.P. Eddy [00:29:23] I like that. Yeah. We’re tracking. I said a very similar thing. The leadership vacuum is being filled with poison.
Tom Scott [00:29:38] Say that again, I missed that at the end.
R.P. Eddy [00:29:40] Is, the leaders. The leadership vacuum we have, we have a leadership vacuum.
Tom Scott [00:29:44] Yeah.
R.P. Eddy [00:29:45] It’s being filled with poison. And so it’s, it’s two sides. I think what you, it is the other side of what you were saying. Right. So people with trustworthiness, which is a great word, means a lot, and courage, you know, should sort of come forth and lead us. But they’re not. So that vacuum, that leadership vacuum is being filled by poison. Right. That I mentioned before about our monkey brain panic, our reactive limbic response to this. You marry that up with a lack of leadership, a leadership vacuum, and you end up with a situation where we are probably unnecessarily dividing ourselves and we are being divided by nefarious actors. Right.
Tom Scott [00:30:32] Yeah.
R.P. Eddy [00:30:32] So there is a spectrum on one end of the irresponsibly incurious, as Nick Christakis put it. So that was a great word, the irresponsibly incurious. I wouldn’t say that’s an evil behavior. You’re just irresponsibly incurious. You’re the governor of Georgia who says, oh, I just learned this disease can be asymptomatic for a while, while the CDC is in his state. Remember that four weeks ago that was irresponsibly incurious. Then you get to the clickbait media filling this vacuum for selfish purposes. Then you get to greedy politicians doing the greedy politicians do. Then you get to ridiculous conspiracy theorists. Bill Gates is not Mr. Burns. What’s 5G trying to do to us? And then you get to downright enemies of the state, China and Russia stoking that figures. Misinformation is knocking at the door, trying to separate us. So those two, the two things, lack of trustworthy, highly couraged, courageous leaders and the inherent panic of a pandemic are opening the door to these divisive groups, some which are semi innocent and some which are downright evil trying to pull us apart.
Tom Scott [00:31:40] Yeah. Yeah. OK. Is it my turn? Yes. The people who know the way out will likely not be the people who knew we’d pass this way in. I’m kind of reflecting on our show on… I don’t know what day that was. That was Thursday. Problem pointer-outers are not always the best solution leaders. I actually think you could argue, you are one guy I know who I think could sit on both sides of this equation, but, but I think, you know, look, the knowledge needed for the way out is so vast and the knowledge it needed in the way in was so specific, right? So Laurie’s knowledge is really specific. We need more general knowledge in terms of how to get out because the factors that you start to throw in there, economy, sociology, you know, some of the other unintended, wow that’s the wrong word, but unlikely outcomes from this disease create a real issue where you’re looking for something to book there?
R.P. Eddy [00:32:51] I found it.
Tom Scott [00:32:53] Go.
R.P. Eddy [00:32:56] So that, I have a very similar point, which is my last point, which is effectively, it has to do with Cassandras. Right. So Laurie Garrett, who we had on the show a couple of days ago, our Cassandras from our book, someone that for over 20 years has been whispering in my ear, guiding me and my bosses more than me and has never been wrong as relates to disease. She’s a two time Cassandra, which is I’ve never heard of it before has a new set of warnings. And we had her on. And I suspect you and I both finished that call feeling pretty down, right? I mean, she’s she’s still, we all should be pessimistic, but she’s really pessimistic about what’s gonna happen or the way out. And warnings like hers need to be married with kind of broad, agile leaders who can help guide us out. So what I was just looking up was the name of Dr. Jim Hansen, who was another Cassandra, Cassandra but about climate change. And Jim Hansen, I’ve had the real pleasure of meeting. And I don’t think he’d mind me saying that Jim Hansen is a brilliant scientist, kind of the father of climate change science, and he’s been proven correct over and over and over again. His science, one of his papers on climate change from the 80s, it’s been considered the most scientifically accurate and prophetic scientific paper written since 1950. Like the guy is good at science. He’s really good at predicting where climate change was headed. And it was really early. Cassandra. He’s a poor communicator to groups and I again, I think he’d acknowledge that. We, he and I were doing some speaking together. He’s, he’s not… once you get to N of people beyond five or 10, that’s not where he wants to be. He’s much better talking to a small group. So Jim Hansen had to marry up with one of the great showmen, Al Gore, and that created the inconvenient truth from participant media, Jeff Skoll and other things pushing this story out. You need to get the Cassandra with a broad communicator. I know a lot of people listening to this may not love Al Gore and they probably don’t know who Jim Hansen is. But the point is, the marriage of the Cassandra, the Worner, the deep technical expert with the communicator is very, very powerful. So my relevant lesson, my list, Tom, and so far where it’s call and receive here, which we know aren’t my one of my big lessons at the end here is will we learn to discern and listen to Cassandras like Laurie or will we prove Hegel correct with his quote that we learned from history, that we do not learn from history? So my my last lesson from this kind of the Adam, Adam Robinson, lesson or conversation, not being stupid or not. My last lesson or my big hope, I have two big hopes. That’s one of them, is that we learn to listen and discern Cassandras. We learn how to hear warnings. Let me do a really quick point here. Really interesting article yesterday or Saturday, in The New York Times about why are countries led by women doing so much better in this pandemic than others? New Zealand and Germany are both completely out-classing other nations as a result, as compared to how they’re doing with the pandemic and part of the argument in this article, of course, both led by women and I mean there you know, Germany is crushing everybody. Germany’s performance on this is dramatically better than anyone else relative in Europe to scale right there. They’re doing an extraordinary job. Likewise, New Zealand, both led by women. Why is that the case? In part of what the article theorized was that women don’t have to be the brash, swaggering men who like, “I know the answer.” I don’t have to listen to people. I have to portray strength, portray strength at all times. So here’s the answer. Women don’t take the ego shot. The ego weakening by saying, I want to hear other points of view. They don’t have to be the strong alpha. At least this is a cultural approximation, right, as they are. This is pretty dangerous territory. I’m just reporting the article said. So that was fascinating that women are willing to listen to other points of view to be more inclusive, inclusive. Inclusion is what the Cassandra theory is about. That that was kind of cool.
Tom Scott [00:37:26] Yeah, I once read a story about nuclear power and how women reacted to it versus the way men reacted to it. I remember very early on we were having a conversation internally about sort of the feminine and masculine reaction to this. Neither one of us are women, obviously. And, you know, might my knowledge in this area is relatively limited, but I think it’s a really interesting conversation. I’m gonna read that article. Moving on.
R.P. Eddy [00:37:53] It mentions Van Halen. So they spice it up a little bit. It’s not that bland.
Tom Scott [00:37:58] It mentions what?
R.P. Eddy [00:37:59] Van Halen. So to encourage people to read the article, it talks about Van Halen and the Brown MnMs.
Tom Scott [00:38:07] Interesting. OK. Is it me or you?
R.P. Eddy [00:38:12] You were doing call and respond like a field holler. The roots of American blues.
Tom Scott [00:38:17] Alright, here we go. My trip has taught me that wisdom is derived from listening. The lessons are in the granular and not on Twitter or in elite knowledge centers. A big statement; I believe it. And listening has really been… I know this some percentage of the time. And then I get like, Kristin and I were talking before the show. You know, I get full of myself and all of a sudden I know everything. And I calm down and I’m like, I don’t know anything. But listening, listening has been really powerful. And the truth is its own truth. I mean, just what I’m trying to say is it’s tough to read this anywhere. It’s especially tough to read or watch something on the news that accurately reports what’s actually going on. And the brilliance is in listening. So.
R.P. Eddy [00:39:11] I think that’s. I think that’s… I sign up to that. I don’t have a field holler response exactly to that, but I began journaling today for the first time since 2017. Funny you mentioned it earlier and I’m doing this daily stoic journal by my friend Ryan Holladay, which I couldn’t recommend more fully to anybody. And Ryan Holladay is an extraordinary guy, by the way. We should have him on the show. But he put together this thing called the Daily Stoic Journal. And the thing I was working on, a day where what are sources of unsteadiness in your life? And one thing that I was circling around is ego. It’s a destabilising force in my life and the, the vaccine, the ego might one of them might be listening.
Tom Scott [00:40:04] Where are we? Am I doing one again? OK. You know, I’m just going to mention before I do, so yesterday I journaled long, long. We were driving and I read and I read out, I read aloud, show along the way. It’s so valuable. It’s so centering. It’s so clarifying, I just so recommend journaling. I know to a lot of people it sounds like a pain in the neck. I just so recommend journaling. The system being broken is not the issue. You hear it a lot. The system is broken. The system is broken. Culture being broken is where our problems lie. I think we have a cultural problem that is bigger than a system problem. In fact, the system will reflect the culture and I think the… and it starts with click baity information that divides us. I know I keep saying this. I think it’s such a big issue. And the truth is, I’ll use the word. I think we actually love each other. I really believe that. And I think if we knew how to love each other and I think we do, it’s in our instinct. If you practice the system or follow the system is, is nothing more than an expression of the culture. And I think we have a cultural problem way more than a system problem. And if you wait for the system problem, I just don’t think that’s gonna be the way out.
R.P. Eddy [00:41:28] It’s beautiful, I think. Yeah, sure. And. Did the Trump election. And a lot of what we see the minute they kind of the angry manifestations of behaviors. What I would call angry men if they’re angry and they’re angry manifestations of behaviors we’re seeing now in response to like mask wearing and the virus and other things which look like these huge cultural divides, where are they are large cultural divides. I think they are representations of entire groups of people feeling left behind, ignored and unloved. I think there’s huge categories of people in this country who think this system is rigged against them. And they have lots of evidence that they’re right. And perhaps what we’ve learned from some of our conversations with Stacy and others is the African-American community looks at the fact that this virus is killing them way disproportionately. And they say that’s no surprise. It’s the system has been rigged against us for a long time. And the, maybe the people who stormed the courthouse steps in Michigan wearing tactical battle gear feel the system’s rigged against their way of life, too. And they’re not being heard and they’re not being loved. Although I give that last group way less credit. Fact zero credit. But they must feel some degree of being marginalized to take up that.
Tom Scott [00:43:06] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, look, I haven’t we’ve had that one incident where we saw people who sort of fit that those characteristics, but meaning the more militant side. But I think that the, when you hear the stories of sort of the let’s say, the right wing. Red Midwestern people who we’ve come across. Again, I’m generalizing. It’s absolutely the way they see it. They see themselves as being victims of a system that’s broken and they see it around them. It’s part of their lives. There’s a definite similarity there.
R.P. Eddy [00:43:42] So my my correlation, my comment on our list might be really similar. Forgive others. And forgive yourself. Feeling panicked and confused and angry and viscerally afraid of others right now. Forgive, forgive yourself for feeling that and forgive others for feeling that and recognize that that fear and panic member as vivec, the former surgeon general, is telling us that fear and panic. That fear and panic is as mentally isolating as the physical quarantine. Right. So to be terrified of other people and panic by the disease is isolating. Just as isolating as having to lock yourself at home. And so forth. We forgive ourselves and forgive others for being that panicked and confused and angry. And forgive ourselves for being thereby highly susceptible to the fake news peddlers and the others are trying to divide us right now. Really? And realize that we are susceptible. That’s why I’m mixing a couple of things there. But I think that builds off yours a bit. So I’m going to take taking your point and I would add the concept of I accept it and forgive it.
Tom Scott [00:44:57] You know, emotionally, I don’t know many people who aren’t somewhat roller coaster like in their emotions and their, you know, their center, their sense of their center. I know I’m not. It’s nice to know that the, you know, the inputs that that make people feel that way, and if you know that those are present, you can be more understanding with people, more helpful to people, more helpful yourself. OK. Well, this is it. This is a follow on from before, there’s a lot of repeat. So this one we don’t need to spend time on cause you’ve heard me on this one. But after I wrote my last one, the culture being broken is where the bigger problem lies. And yet most Americans on the left and right flanks love each other. Our media and I put in parentheses and disinformation powers. And the, let me read that again. Our media and disinformation powers and puzzles tell them otherwise. Twitter is a lie. So let’s just… Twitter is a lie is my statement and that people love each other, whatever they think.
R.P. Eddy [00:46:01] I totally agree that I, I am… I think, you know, the leadership vacuum is being filled with poison. Twitter is Twitter is fucking horrible. I’m sorry. I mean, I don’t know why I go to it. I go to… it is a good way to get a lot of really separate points of view fast. If you want that, if you want a bunch of people to spit in your face. It’s a good way to get it I guess.
Tom Scott [00:46:27] Well, it’s interesting because, you know, the thing people say it’s like like media people say, well, we use it all the time in media. It’s like, no shit. It shows, man. Yeah. You know what I mean? It’s like, I wish they didn’t. It’s a good tool for them, I say. It might be a bad tool.
R.P. Eddy [00:46:42] Well, I think, and the vitriol leads into Facebook. I mean, there’s there’s this whole social media question about like, why does my 14 year old love Snapchat? There’s none of us there. Right? Snapchat is just like goofy little pictures of kids looking at each other, Instagram so as to be happy pictures of all of you just joining, enjoying each other. There’s all the problem about FOMO fear of missing out on Snapchat or Instagram. And then Facebook is now turning into this place where I’m having this raging debate with an old eighth grade friend of mine. I’m about to cut him off, but he’s looking at you, well, I’m about to be done with them. But he, it is getting a little more angry inside Facebook and then Twitter? Forget it.
Tom Scott [00:47:24] Go ahead.
R.P. Eddy [00:47:30] So, OK, so then let’s let’s talk about the way out. That’s sort of what you were. So what do we do now? So one lesson and I think it ties into a lot of the things we learned here and it look very frankly, it probably turns in this lesson. We all know that it turns into a greater society with or without a pandemic. Right. We all need to be leaders right now. All right. We need, there’s a leadership vacuum. And we need to fill that leadership vacuum individually. And you, and you have to lead for your own personal safety. So I think we live in a culture where we know that statistically ninety eight percent of people don’t make up their own decisions and make up their own mind. They they are led by their news media, their sports team, their rabbi, their priest, their parents, their boss. Most people don’t go through the process of thinking for themselves what they actually feel. And a lot of you, a lot of me listen to this and go, Well, I do. You really don’t. Really push back and figure out what you think of on your own. The statistics say ninety nine percent of us just follow. If you just follow and you follow the wrong thing right now, you could die. So you have to lead on your own, see where you are and make your own assessment about how safe you’re going to be in light of a dangerous disease. So we have to be leaders at our own level, make our own safety steps. Decide if we’re going to wear masks or not. Decide how much we’re gonna hang out with people in a safe, safe manner. Have to lead our families that are businesses… we have to fill that leadership vacuum ourselves. In that leadership if we all try to lead with the other in mind, we all try to lead with soft eyes and an open heart, then that then this can become a uniting moment. Right. It’s a look, you know, maybe a little hard. I mean, I don’t know why it’s it’s hard. But we ought to aim for that. So has anyone done that? Well, yes. In this, the era of COVID-19, SARS could be too, the global scientific community has actually come together like that. They’ve all they’ve all put aside in large ways… they’ve put aside patent disputes. They put aside profit disputes. And there is an unbelievable international cooperation going on the global scientific community right now. So they’ve given us an example of of leading other focused, leading soft eyes, leading with, with cooperation with others. And so have health care workers, not just that they’re putting the really obvious example of all the health care workers who go to work. Those are human beings who went to work without proper masks, without proper PPE, put their lives on line to die for us. They truly are the best of us. They went on to show that they were leading for us and hundreds of them died because they decide to show up for work and do this. That’s the sad fact. Right.
Tom Scott [00:50:37] Yeah.
R.P. Eddy [00:50:37] And and the other group that’s that’s yeah, the scientific community and the health care community both have done this. They both have led cooperatively and become and filled the leadership vacuum. So as much as any of us can learn from that, the better will be.
Tom Scott [00:50:56] So RP, I have three left. Two of them are really short. I’ll do one which is specific to my trip and, you know, do whatever you want on that next one. I know you’ve got a bit of a time crunch, but. Communities for humans will return and communities for consumers will fade. This is an observation I’ve been making for some time because I drive across the country and travel around the country a lot. Like a lot. And I drove across the country this past summer. What I mean by that is I’d like blue highways, blue highways or the small old highways that connect these places. And these roads basically were designed that, you know, when they were built to connect the town center to the university, to Churchill Downs. I mean, you see it all when you go on blue highways and the towns, you know, started falling apart some time ago. If you look at a new eye or different places that you see and they were replaced by these, you know, drive throughs right at the gas station, the convenience store, you guys all know it. You’ve all seen on times. Those are starting online, too. The Internet has impacted them. And what’s happening is you’re seeing that, you know, that the flowers are starting to bloom in some of these in Vicksburg, in, you know, in Florence, where the town itself starts to come back to life. And what’s nice about those towns, they were built for people. There’s a park, you know, the town square, there’s a church, there’s a, you know, might be a government building. There might be a library. Those kinds of things. The modern community has been built for cars, built for consumers. It’s a consumer car thing. They’re very unattractive and they’re actually starting to go away a little bit. It makes me feel hopeful. I’m flashing forward, I’m imagining us with electric cars that we plug into our houses and our purpose for community changes and we’ll rise in a way that’s really interesting and useful. But but in the end, what we saw in Tupelo last night, which again, which is a beautiful community and it seems to be coming up a lot, it was the place for community to happen. I think that’s just such a piece that we’ve we’ve kind of taken apart over time and maybe we’re rebuilding it. There’s hope in that. I’m not, I can’t directly attribute science to that, but there’s hope that.
R.P. Eddy [00:53:08] Say the sentence again, communities for people will increase, communities for consumers will recede. Is that what it was?
Tom Scott [00:53:12] Communities for humans will return and communities for consumers will fade. Monarchist communities are for consumers, not for humans.
R.P. Eddy [00:53:22] There is… I’ve had two really fascinating conversations during this pandemic with a European leader from a group called Thermo, a brilliant guy, and then… Coming in, dear friend. And he’s trying to redesign communities to be neighborhood focused. Well, these… and then a guy named Joe Lewis, who owns a big piece of land in Florida called Lake Nona. So these two really successful business people, both independently are trying to figure out how to create communities that are more about neighborhoods, more about walking, more about families, more about neighborhood, neighborhood, neighborhood. World that you make so real versus consumerism in cars. So there’s real people thinking about these things kind of all of a sudden. That’s a new one, that’s not on my list. I would, the closest one would be one I think we’ve talked a lot about in this conversation, but we should put a point on it. I think it really matters. I think Stacy taught us this right. And we serve others to serve yourself. Seems like a huge lesson here. Right. So while we may feel helpless or scared, we do feel helpless or scared? Remember Stacy said when she feels helpless or scared, one road out for her is to get up and help someone else. Kerry would similarly like the huge impact that you can make in a community and to some extent how selfless, excuse me, me selfish this is, right? To be other centered and lead with love. Again, Stacy is is a selfish and awesome act at the same time. And I’ll to accelerate things, I’ll mix it with one of my, one of my my two big lessons I hope we learn. One I already mentioned and we discussed about will we learn from Cassandras? The other one is this, correlating to that, my, my hope, one of my dreams and it came out of talking a lot of the TNP fellows the other day. Tom, thank you for that opportunity. If I had to have an aspiration for part of what comes out of this: one is we listen to Cassandras. We don’t get walloped by catastrophes again. We’d listen to warnings like it’s an obvious, it’s like if you had to pick what R.P. would guess what, that’s the obvious one. Here’s another one for those of us who are… for those people who are trying to get out and serve other people in any way now because of this pandemic and maybe they hadn’t previously. My hope is that we all learn the addictiveness of service, right? That maybe we can create this habit of service through this crisis, that more and more people realize how self fulfilling and how, again, selfish it is to serve. And we all can get the spirit if we all start getting the serotonin boost of service through this pandemic, that that becomes a habit we carry forward in a way out of this. That would be a hope.
Tom Scott [00:56:14] Also, just such a great act of learning. You know, it’s it’s hard not to listen and serve. And sometimes we all make that mistake. But it’s… and I’m going to give you my last two at the same time. And they’re, you know, sort of inarguable. Maybe. One is America’s beautiful. Beautiful place. And two, masks are a movement, a sign of love. There’s something about seeing masks that makes me feel good. And it’s ultimately it’s a self, you know, to your point, it’s a selfless act to wear a mask. And I would put those two together. I mean, one of the things I say this a lot. I don’t know what a ugly landscape looks like. As long as God made it, it’s gonna be beautiful and I’m being literal like man can mess up a landscape, but God doesn’t seem to, you know, it could be a forest. It could be a swamp. It could be a river. It could be a mountain. It could be a field. It could be whatever it is. It’s amazing how beautiful. And our country just has such a wide variety of beautiful places. That’s my 10.
R.P. Eddy [00:57:20] Just quickly, the… no such thing as a bad landscape, but there’s a great, that’s kind of a Nordic quote. No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear?
Tom Scott [00:57:29] Yeah, right. All right.
R.P. Eddy [00:57:33] So, yeah. OK. I think I’m at my last one, too, and it’s pretty… we’re gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna find a merger here at the end too, Tom. America is beautiful. You said, I said the United States needs to lead internationally too, love Pax Americana. We must use this as an opportunity to show the world the goodness, the love and the strength of the United States. America needs to be the rising tide. America, the spirit, the illumination of what we’ve been for ever. And we really advanced probably profoundly in nineteen forty two when we entered World War Two. That spirit of service and sacrifice and leading the rest of the world. And again, service is selfish. Just like an individual serving in a community gives at least me a serotonin boost, like I’m getting a fix when I help. When America helps, it’s selfish for America too, to create a level playing field, we create an opportunity that America benefits from. So you say America is beautiful. I certainly agree. And I say America should take that beauty and take our love and our greatness and we need to share it internationally. So right now, the second floor of our house is on fire. It’s not a time for us to go run out across the seas and help other people at a few appears. But we can chew gum and walk at the same time. So I hope America can use this global crisis as a chance to help save lives in the U.S. and overseas, but also to do a little bit to reclaim America’s right… righteous place as a global leader and as a beacon of freedom and democracy and hope that we used to be. And we kind of lost that mantle. And here’s a good chance for us to get that mantle back. And as I said, it’s selfish. It’s good for us. It’s also good for the world. I strongly believe in that. So those are my 10 as well.
Tom Scott [00:59:27] Awesome. Thank you so much.