A quick example of thinslicing – to find the data and to act on the data

1. Consider this excerpt from Wikipedia on the Friendship paradox, as way of a quick mathematical -based example of ‘thinslicing’, that helps predict disease epidemics:

The analysis of the friendship paradox implies that the friends of randomly selected individuals are likely to have higher than average centrality. This observation has been used as a way to forecast and slow the course of epidemics, by using this random selection process to choose individuals to immunize or monitor for infection while avoiding the need for a complex computation of the centrality of all nodes in the network.[5][6][7]

2. Then consider that this is probably what happened in one New York community, prior to the full impact of HIV, to quote one study from Dr Sam Friedman:

In the period from 1976 to the early 1980’s, seroprevalence in New York rose from zero to about 50%…The epidemic then entered a period of dynamic stabilization…Although mathematical models have suggested network saturation may have been an important part of the stabilization process (Blower, 1991), the sociometric analysis of drug injectors’ networks conducted during the research for this volume suggest that the extent of network saturation may have been quite limited.

Behaviour change probably made a major contribution to the stabilization of seroprevalence. In spite of a popular image that would suggest that either “slavery to their addiction” or “hedonistic, selfish personalities that ignore risks and social responsibility,” drug injectors in New York (and indeed, throughout the world) have acted both to protect themselves and others against the AIDS epidemic. Thus, by 1984, before there were any programs other than the mass media to inform them about AIDS or to help to protect themselves, drug injectors in New York were engaged in widespread risk reduction…Furthermore, observations on the street confirmed this by showing that drug dealers were competing with others for business by offering free sterile syringes along with their drugs as AIDS-prevention techniques.

BTW if you’ve stumbled on this post and wonder what it all means, join the club. I am still working on myself, but there’s something here about ‘thinslicing’ as an outsider – in this example finding who to immunize in an epidemic; and ‘thinslicing’ from an insider perspective, in this example, who with little information people figured out how to take precautionary measures.Hence the title addition – to find the data and to act on the data..

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