Acting in the Dark — A note to our readers

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Dear Reader,

Over the last three months, I have thought again and again of an image: You are standing on a beach with your friends when the ocean suddenly begins to recede. In the distance, you see a wall of water approaching.

“I think we should move off the beach,” you say. “You’re just afraid,” a friend smirks. “You don’t even know how high that wave is.” You stand arguing as the wall grows near.

As the coronavirus wave loomed far, then near, then broke over us, we heard that the real contagion was panic. That anxiety over the virus was racist. That it wasn’t as bad as the flu. That the projections might be wrong. That we couldn’t let fear change our way of life.

The problem with these lines of thought is not that they were always entirely wrong. It was that they insisted on waiting for certainty when the situation demanded action amid uncertainty. It was that they were more interested in asking Who has wrong thoughts and bad emotions? than How should we act prudently?  

I would like to ask you to consider what The New Atlantis has stood for in the past and over the course of this scourge — and what we will contribute to the national effort in the months ahead.

Over the last month, we have published on prudence, the need for a plan to end the shutdown, and the uncertainties we face. The chart we published Monday putting Covid-19 in perspective with other causes of death has gone viral (if you’ll forgive the phrase), becoming one of the most-read articles in our history.

I am now asking for your financial support. We are launching a campaign to raise $20,000 in contributions from readers by April 30 — allowing us to continue our work through this unprecedented moment and emerge stronger than before.

If you have found us a sober voice in the storm, and are weathering it yourself, please consider contributing.

Thank you and be well,

Ari Schulman

P.S. As a reminder of some of our past work, I invite you to revisit “The Politics of the WHO,” from our very first year, and my own “The Ebola Gamble: How public health authorities put reassurance before protection,” which was described last week as “prophetic.”

P.P.S. We are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and all donations are fully tax-deductible. You can read more about supporting our work here.

Ari Schulman, “Acting in the Dark — A note to our readers,”, April 17, 2020.
Header image by George Desipris / Pexels