72. Christianity's R0 number and the Roman attempt to flatten the curve

It’s interesting to draw similes between history events which may, at first sight, look very different, but may also have extremely informative and curious commonalities. The coronavirus pandemic has given us some clues as to how important ideas may be spread in the World, raising hopes that we can, even as individuals, increase our impact on global problems such as inequality or global warming. After all, patient 1 managed to start a pandemic. I’ll write about this separately, but this thought led me to the simile between early Christianity and coronavirus. As an ideology, early Christianity was thought highly dangerous by the roman establishment and had an R>1. The Romans tried to flatten the curve, their version of ‘Stay at home, save the NHS’ was ‘Crucify Christians, save the status quo’ (methodology was more brutal in those days). Alas, the attempt to flatten the curve eventually failed, there were several waves and, when emperor Constantine contracted Christianity, the game was up 

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Sandra K. said…
You drew a very interesting parallel there, Santi. I wonder what would be the vaccine for Christianity? The study of science, human evolution or biology?
Melkisecebe said…
This is indeed an idea full of hope, that can be used to argue against nihilist positions. Everything we do matters and in the same way we can we unadvertely a coronavirus superspreader we can also be superspreaders of ideas or actions, particularly with current communication technologies. It should also make us reflect on our responsability as humans and citizens. Maybe ideas should be quarantined and we should we sure we will not harm others, prticularly the most vulnerable, before opening our mouths and contribute to spread ideas.
SantiDominguezV said…
Loving the idea of the vaccine, Sandra! Christianity is not objectively bad, in the same way as coronavirus is, so not sure a vaccine is needed but, indeed, I think studying the sciences vaccinates you against at least fundamentalist christianity (there are many examples of Christian scientists) and a literal interpretation of the scriptures. Really nice thought, playing along the narrative! Of course, the Roman establishment was technologically ill equipped at the time, with no understanding of evoluation and very limited notions of cosmology, biology, etc.
SantiDominguezV said…
Clara, I know someone who had a sign hanging at home saying: 'Get your brain to work before you put your tongue to move', the translation is somewhat literal from Spanish, but something like that, so, indeed, we should think of the impact of communication before engaging in it. Quarantining is hard, because who can do, other than the individual professing or reproducing the idea? And indeed, the post is about personal responsibility, both in avoiding communications that can be harmful, but also in highlighting that, through communications, we can have an impact. But, to do this, we need to take it seriously and really try to influence others to get them to adopt ideas which we see as good and valuable. It can be done, and the job is not so great, but our society today is programmed against proselitism, so it is an uphill battle (more reason to start!)

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