How can the unstable environment due to COVID-19 be related to Plato's Cave?

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Our unstable COVID-19 situation can be compared to Plato's allegory of the cave in that in both cases, information is partial and uncertain. The people in the cave could only see shadows cast on a wall. In the COVID-19 crisis, we similarly lack the complete information we need to fight the disease.

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In Plato's allegory of the cave, Socrates describes a group of humans chained inside a cave. Light comes in from above and illuminates the wall the people are staring at. Figures walk and move behind the imprisoned humans. As the light shines on these figures, they appear as shadows on the wall. To the prisoners, who can see nothing else, the shadows seem to be reality.

The environment of COVID-19 can be compared to Plato's cave allegory because we are all caught in a situation in which the true reality is not clear. We can only, like the prisoners in the cave, get partial information about the virus. We don't know the reality of how many people actually have it. We don't know how many people have had the virus and are carrying antibodies that might provide protection against it. We are still trying to determine the best treatment methods, with information seemingly changing on a daily basis as we try to interpret the shadows on the wall of what we know.

When and if we do more testing for the virus and for the antibodies and when we find the best protocols for treating the disease and, with luck, an effective vaccine, we will feel like Socrates's philosophers, coming into the light of day.

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