Jason Hartman talks about the lasting value of single-family investment properties beating out commercial real estate. He also shares his thoughts on the federal aid programs and pandemic relief packages. In the interview segment, he is joined by Dr. Nicholas Christakis, author of Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live. He talks about the severity of Coronavirus in comparison to past pandemics and debunks some COVID-19 myths. They also discuss the book, Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of A Good Society.
I love your podcasts, I think you educate you entertaining. And I always learn something, even if it’s not real estate related.
Welcome to the creating wealth show with Jason Hartman. You’re about to learn a new slant on investing some exciting techniques and fresh new approaches to the world’s most historically proven asset class that will enable you to create more wealth and freedom than you ever thought possible. Jason is a genuine self made multi millionaire who’s actually been there and done it. He’s a successful investor, lender, developer and entrepreneur who’s owned properties in 11 states had hundreds of tenants and been involved in 1000s of real estate transactions. This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to your financial independence day, you really can do it. And now here’s your host, Jason Hartman with the complete solution for real estate investors.
Jason Hartman 0:59
Welcome to Episode 1610 1610. And today, we have a professor here to talk to you about some interesting stuff. Interesting stuff, for sure, is a well, he’s got more degrees than a thermometer. He’s a sociologist physician, and he conducts research on social networks. So not like a movie not like fake book, but real networks in real life, right? And bio social science. It’s a 10th episode show, folks. And that means we’re discussing a topic of general interest to make us smarter and more successful at living, not necessarily about personal finance, or real estate investing. We’ll be back with more of that good stuff tomorrow and all week, until we hit Episode 1620. Yes, that’s how it works here. And you know that already, because most of you are regular listeners, but for the newbies, I gotta always say that. So our guests will be with us in a moment. Fascinating interview. And that’s coming right up. But right now, I want you to be very happy that you followed my advice. And you invested in housing, housing, housing, housing, residential real estate, because boy, the pain in the commercial real estate market is pretty tough. Just like that bomb dropping, it’s no fun to be there. So 63 Bed, Bath and Beyond stores are going to close by the end of this fiscal year. I don’t know if that’s the calendar year, the fiscal year is not always the same as the calendar year for Big C corporations. See, if you have an S corp, my understanding, I’m not a lawyer or tax advisor. Disclaimer, hashtag disclaimer, if you have an S corp, meaning flow through pass through income, a lot of you have your LLC, if you have an LLC, you elect to have S corp treatment Corporation could be a Subchapter S or a C Corp. The big companies are usually c corporations, and the small ones many times are S corporations. And so the C Corp gets to have whatever fiscal year it wants. It can be from April to April or it can be from July to July doesn’t matter. But an S corp has to go with a calendar year. So that’s why I say that. But in Manhattan, Home Depot is expanding into one of the spaces that Bed Bath and Beyond is leaving behind. Hmm, that’s interesting use. Those city slickers do need some hardware, so, so that’s good. Okay, so listen to this one. Only, this is an only number. Only 17.6% of workers returning to the office as of November 25. Okay, that’s it. Right? That means there’s like what 83% not returning. And that’s already down from 27% as of November 10. So in 15 days, another 10% of people decided, hey, they won’t come into the office. They weren’t coming back, or their employers decided that or the government decided that if you live in a dictatorial regime, like California, sorry, Californians. I just want to help you get out of that state. Listen, I’m from there. It’s a beautiful place, but man, it’s just inhospitable toward human life. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement, but it’s inhospitable toward financial life. How’s that sound? Yes, it’s bad for your finances? Um, 2.3%. What does that represent? It represents the percentage of office building loans converted into mortgage backed securities that are more than 30 days delinquent. Let’s have some broken glass. I don’t know if he could tell. But that was broken glass. My sound effect machine I just love playing with this. The only time I get to play with it is when I talk to you either on the podcast or on a live stream. Oh, that reminds me, it reminds me. And I’ve got to remind you, if you weren’t on our live stream yesterday, we’ve been doing these Sunday morning coffee talks, right? Every Sunday at 8am Pacific and 11am. Eastern, but we are changing the time for our regular schedule. Now we do do some surprise, impromptu live streams, which is why when you subscribe to our YouTube channel, you’ve got to hit that notification bell so that you are notified when we do an impromptu live stream. Because sometimes, you know, I just get in the mood. And I got to go talk to the people. But people, that’s you. Okay, so we’re changing the time of our Sunday live stream. And the new time ends. Sunday afternoon, if you are in the Pacific Time Zone, overpaying on your taxes and overpaying for your housing. That’ll be 4pm for you pacific time people, and 7pm for you eastern time people. So 4pm, Pacific 7pm. Eastern, every Sunday. That is the new time for our live stream. And you know, we can always change that too. But we’re gonna try this one. So we’ll see you there on Sunday. And then it seems that pretty much every other week. So far, so good. Adam and I are getting together and we are doing a live stream every other Wednesday morning at about 930 or 10 o’clock eastern. Okay. So you can catch us there on Facebook and YouTube for that one as well. If not, it’ll be on the YouTube channel recorded but a lot of you like to participate live and ask questions and make comments and Heckle us and hey, we know you’re Heckle with love. Well, most of you. Some people are evil, and they don’t Heckle with love they Heckle with meanness. And they’re bullies and I need a safe space. Do you ever feel like you need a safe space? You know, not really, it’s like folks curl up. We don’t need to save space, we can handle it. But I don’t know if we can handle what’s coming up. Because millions of people. Now this is not good news folks. Millions of people are set to lose those big federal aid programs. And some of it well, some of those people, the number is actually about 8.7 million of them. Their pandemic unemployment assistance bonus is going to expire The day after Christmas, December 26. If if the powers that be don’t come to the rescue, and I want to say it right here, folks. I think the powers that be are going to come to the rescue. So I do not think anybody needs to worry too terribly much about this. Okay. All right. Okay, so also December 26 pandemic, emergency unemployment compensation, for 4.4 million people is due to expire the same day, and other programs are expiring as well. So that would cause a lot of people to be concerned and rightfully so. But no politician wants to take away the Punchbowl. No politician wants to have the trick or treaters come to the door and say a trick or treat Happy Halloween and say sorry, kids, no candy for you. That just isn’t the way it works. That’s why you can have faith that the welfare state will continue and not only continue, it will expand it will get bigger and people will bounce back. Yes, they will. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too corny. I’ll be the first to admit, I think it’s pretty corny. Especially the spring sound bouncing back. You know, you get it spring bounce back. Yeah, you got it. But these are interesting times we are living in they are scary times for many. And at the same time, there are a lot of people who are doing extremely well right now. So it’s a very uneven. A very uneven situation we find ourselves in it really is. But there is some good news. The US antitrust authorities are preparing extra extra lawsuits against Facebook and Google. Yay. I think that’s great news here. Let’s see. Let’s see one more. Hip hip hooray. Hip hip. Hooray. Yes, new lawsuits. We need more lawsuits against Facebook and Google right. For all their dirty deeds in the antitrust field. Don’t wait. So yeah, we’ll see. But hey, we have got a lot to talk about this week, in terms of real estate investing stuff. And so that’ll be coming up tomorrow, the next day, the day after we’re here with you five days a week, of course. But today, it is a 10th episode show. So let’s get on with our 10th episode. And talk to the professor. Oh, one more thing. I was talking about LLC S and S corpse and C corpse are very popular. Super well received webinar on that topic is that Jason hartman.com slash protect. And our Alabama webinar By the way, we’ve got some new Alabama properties. They’re, they’re pretty cool. So check them out. This is all new construction stuff. Jason hartman.com slash sweet home. And here is the professor for our 10th episode show.
It’s my pleasure to welcome Nicholas Christakis. He is an MD a PhD, and a Master of Public Health. He’s a sociologist and physician who conducts research in the areas of social networks, and bio social science. He directs the human nature lab. His latest book is Apollo’s arrow, but he’s author of several other fascinating books, including connected the amazing power of social networks, and how they shape our lives. And blueprint, the evolutionary origins of a good society as well as several others. Nicholas, welcome. How are you?
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 12:27
Thank you so much for having me.
Jason Hartman 12:28
It’s good to have you on and where are you located? Are you at Yale today?
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 12:32
Uh, well, let’s just say I’m up north in the mountains. North of now I’m in Vermont.
Jason Hartman 12:38
Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, tell us a little bit about Apollo zero. That’s your most recent book. And let’s just dive into that one first.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 12:46
Well, I think everyone who’s listening to this is probably been spending a lot more time than they want to thinking about the coronavirus pandemic. And I think one of the messages I would try to get across is this, this very unnatural and alien way we have come to live now, all of us, you know, working from home and not seeing our friends and having schools closed down and millions of Americans have lost their jobs. All of this experience, this awful experience that we’re having is not new to our species. It’s just new to us. plagues have always been a part of the human experience. It’s just the case that these types of serious respiratory pandemics that we are now experiencing are rare. They come about once every 50 or 100 years. And so we are having a once in a century type experience. You know, it’s like, it’s like flood insurance, you know, you most routine stuff is not a problem. But once every 100 years, you get a big one, which is
Jason Hartman 13:41
any fix 100 year flood zone, right? Yeah,
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 13:44
exactly. Exactly. So that is sort of what we’re having. We’re having a kind of a once in 100 year respiratory pandemic, which is also outside of the living memory of many people. So what I try to do in the book is I try to provide a deep understanding of the origins of Coronavirus, the current status that we’re facing, and how it will end you know, how the how the pandemic will end and I, I position this pandemic, this experience that we’re having in the history of 1000s of years of pandemics, where people you know, the bionic plague, or polio, or HIV, for example, or the 1918 influenza pandemic, or Ebola outbreaks. You know, these are features of human experience. And we have evolved biologically and have also developed the kind of social and historical memory for how to cope with these types of plagues
Jason Hartman 14:32
is so I guess my first question on that is, does this rise to anywhere near the level of severity of these other pandemics and plagues that we’ve had? I mean, you take the Spanish Flu 102 years ago, that seemed far more serious than this, or, you know, a lot of people now are starting to really believe that this whole thing is totally overplayed. And, you know, never let a good crisis go to waste type thing, but you’re an expert. You’re a public health expert, right? You’re a doctor. And then kind of my follow on question to that is, is the cure worse than the problem? Or at least the reaction? It’s not the cure, but the lock downs and so forth. Well, let’s
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 15:13
talk about both of those things. First, let’s acknowledge that about a quarter of a million Americans are known to have died of Coronavirus. And there’s some people who question those numbers. But really, those numbers are quite solid. And if one of your listeners is thinking, yeah, but those people would have died anyway have something else? comorbidity? Yeah, we’ll just ask yourself how you would feel if you had cancer, and you were hit by a bus? Would we say that you’ve died from cancer? Or would we say that you died because you were hit by a bus you wouldn’t have died if you’ve not been hit by a bus. So just because you have diabetes, and you die of Coronavirus doesn’t mean we can just say Oh, never mind, you would have died of diabetes anywhere? No, you weren’t my Coronavirus
Jason Hartman 15:52
that that is certainly a fair statement. Because you might have lived with diabetes for the next five years or 10 years depending on its series it was. But I and I get it. I totally agree with you.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 16:02
But it’s that’s that’s the same with all causes of death. So you could have multiple conditions. You could have cancer and a heart attack. And if you die of a heart attack, we say you died of a heart attack. If you had a you also had cancer. It’s true. But the thing that killed you that but for which you would not have died was the heart attack. So this this idea that we can somehow define away the problem. So yes, a quarter million Americans have died of COVID. But that doesn’t count is just wrong from the point of view of how we met have measured debts for hundreds of years. First point.
Jason Hartman 16:32
Fair enough. The issue though, gets into one of it’s always follow the money, right. And there’s a financial incentive to call these Coronavirus.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 16:44
There’s not that’s also Okay, no, absolutely not. In fact, hospitals are losing money. One of the deep ironies of our healthcare system is that our healthcare system is organized in a fashion that many small hospitals around the country are closing or are a threat of closure. And many large hospitals have lost many millions of dollars, because we pay for elective procedures. And so at a time in our nation’s history, when we most need our health care system. We don’t pay well, for taking care of people with infections, you get much more money by having these highfalutin procedures, which is already a pre existing screw up in the way our healthcare system is organized. So many, many hospitals were dying to reopen their hospitals to start doing more knee surgeries and elective, you know, plastic surgery procedures. Does it make a lot of money on those, but you don’t make a lot of money taking care of someone who’s dying of an infection. So no, this is also a myth. But what I want to frame for you is is that we know of a quarter million Americans have died that have died of COVID because they were infected with COVID. And that is what caused their death, regardless of whatever else was going on with them. But in addition to that there are many other Americans we know from some statistical methods which we can discuss, although it’s a little boring, that probably the numbers around 300,000 Americans have already died of Coronavirus. Right now the pandemic is filling hospitals around the country we’re in the middle of the or the beginning of the second wave of the of the pandemic which is very typical of pandemics. We I’m unfamiliar with a respiratory pandemic in the last 100 years, that hasn’t come in multiple waves. And incidentally, it’ll be another wave a year from now, even if there is a vaccine, the vaccine will just make the wave smaller. So I predict that between half a million I and other experts predict that between at least half a million Americans will die of this infection. And maybe maybe as many as a million, it is impossible in my eye to look at that toll of death and try to sort of pretend that it’s not happening or define it away, because those people would not have died. Now, if this pathogen had not arisen in China in November, those people would all be alive right now. But they’ve all been killed by a new germ, just like germs have killed people for 1000s of years. If you have cancer, and you get infected with a germ that gives you pneumonia, we say the pneumonia killed you and we would have tried really hard to avoid you’re getting pneumonia, we would have given you vaccines, we would have treated your pneumonia with antibiotics, we would have just said Oh, it doesn’t matter. You had cancer anyway. It’s just not how the system works. So just to frame it, between half a million and a million Americans are going to die of Coronavirus within the course before this pandemic ends. Okay. Now let’s go back and look at the 1918 pandemic.
Jason Hartman 19:25
Before you do that, though. And so now we can
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 19:27
compare them so people can understand like, How bad is this? Which is
Jason Hartman 19:31
fair enough? Yes, I definitely want to get there. But I just want to ask about the frame on the financial incentive thing for just a quick second. I agree with you that the hospitals seem to be suffering from the loss of those lucrative elective surgeries like a knee surgery and you know, so forth like that. But, you know, maybe that’s not the right way to look at it. Maybe the way to look at is look once the patient is there. They’ve got something and if they pass calling it COVID gets them the $30,000 from the government, right versus, you know, battling with the insurance companies over whatever else they might call it. That’s all I’m saying. It’s a small distinction. But it might be important in the stats, it would
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 20:19
require a level of misbehavior and fraud on a scale that to me, strains credulity. The way these systems are organized as speaking of someone who has certified hundreds of deaths, I mean, it sounds lots of death certificates. I’ve done this. Speaking of someone who has studied insurance claims data and the diagnostic data, this would strain credulity in my view, there is your right and elaborate bureaucracy for reimbursing hospitals according to different things. And you are right, that if you die of two different things, and if the hospital believes that you can plausibly be assigned to have died have to, you know, equally plausible without lying, that you’ve died, and those two things, they might pick the thing that pays more money, which itself is an indictment of our whole health care system and how we’re organized certainly,
Jason Hartman 21:04
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 21:05
Okay. All of that is nuts. Okay. But all of that proceeded Coronavirus. And this idea that somehow we are falsely inflating the number of deaths is just does not fit with all the data. And besides which, even if you don’t want to rely on the death data, which is what I take as the most reliable source, you have all the case data, you have the hospitalization data, you know, you have data that isn’t subject to this potentially perverse financial incentive, which also shows millions of people with his infections. And then coming back to your original question. Now, 10 months into the pandemic. We know quite a bit about this virus, there are at least their number of important epidemiological properties that one can understand about a virus. Let’s start with just two of them. The two most important ones. One is how deadly is the virus. This is called the infection fatality rate or the IFR. Now, a lot of there’s been a lot of hot debate about this and so on. But I can tell you that now, there have been something called meta analyses where people combine information from many different studies using many different approaches to try to really understand how deadly is this virus? Keep in mind, we do this not just for Coronavirus, but for many viruses. This is there’s a whole group of scientists whose whole careers for decades has been devoted to this topic. And when they deploy the methods they’ve used for multiple other conditions and they study this condition, we know that the virus will kill between point 5.8% of the people that infects so it’s IFR is between point five and point eight. Now one of the weird things about this virus is that about half the people who get it have no symptoms, which is good news on one level but bad news on another level. It’s bad. It’s good because great it doesn’t kill you. It’s bad because it confuses people into thinking maybe this isn’t such a good bad virus because many who get it are spared. So people the man on the street thinks Oh, well, you know, it’s not so bad. No, this is a bad virus, a pathogen that kills between half a percent. And point 8% of the people who get infected with is very bad. And if you get symptoms of it, because half the people don’t get symptoms. If you get symptoms, then your risk of death is double what I just told you between 1% and 1.6% of the people who get symptoms of Coronavirus will go on to die. That’s a bad pathogen. Now it does vary by age This is also true and we can discuss it. But overall it’s about let’s just say 1% of the people who get it will die of the condition. So that’s the first number. The second number is the contagiousness of the pathogen. And this is something that the person on the street is now familiar with or if you don’t understand it, you should watch the movie contagion or World War Z which is another great movie worth three watching.
Jason Hartman 23:40
I didn’t see World War Z but I saw contagion Yeah, they’re
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 23:43
both really good. Now in contagion the pathogen there by the way, the mythology of the pathogen is about 30% of the people who get it not 1%, one in three approximately die. Now just to understand as a tangent on our conversation, we are lucky that COVID-19 is not more deadly, there’s no God given reason it’s not more deadly. It could be killing 10 times or 30 times as many people and if it were so deadly, we would be having today and experience like Europeans had during the Middle Ages with the robotic plague, we would be annihilated. And people need to understand that we are just lucky that this pathogen bad as it is killing 1% of people in fact, it is not worse. It could have been much worse. Okay. So the next thing is this in the so that’s the in the movie contagion to kill lots people. But let’s go back now to what we were talking about, which is a v v comparison of 1918 how contagious the diseases so this is quantified by something called the R not the R sub zero, which is what is the intrinsic capacity of the virus in a normally interacting host population that has no immunity to create new cases. So in the case of this virus for approximately, if for each person who gets it they create between two and a half and three and a half new cases, let’s say three okay? So each case the intrinsic spreadability of the germ is that each case can create three new cases. Of course, if we all live apart, if we spread out and do physical distancing, then it can’t do that. But the intrinsic infectiousness of the pathogen is still the same, regardless of what we do. So if you take these two numbers, how deadly is the germ is a germ, and how spreadable is a germ and you plot them on a graph. And you look at all the respiratory pandemics from the last 100 years, the worst one would be 1918, the most deadly and the most spreadable up in the right hand corner of the graph. The second worst one, up until now was the 1957 influenza pandemic, which killed about 110,000 Americans back then, which would be about 220,000. Today, that’s the second worst one. And then there are all the others. For example, there was the 2009 h1 and one pandemic that nobody remembers, because it didn’t kill people. It spread a lot. But it was mild. It was like the common cold. So no one remembers that that’d be down low here. This pandemic that we’re experiencing right now, by those two numbers, is the second worst pandemic we’ve had in 100 years, it’s not going to be as bad thank God as 1918. But it’s worse than 1957. And it will kill as I said, between half a million and a million Americans, we as a nation need to take this seriously, we can’t wish it away. We can’t pretend that our generation of people compared to all of human history, for what reason? I’m not sure people would think this would be spared a plague. Why? Why or why? Why
Jason Hartman 26:33
are we so concerned? Because the modern mind thinks that technology and science have solved every problem.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 26:39
Yes. But then when the science correct, but then when the scientists tell you, this is serious, pay attention, you know, do X, Y and Z people think oh, well, you know, people are making up No, no, no, no, I’m telling you the truth about what is happening to us. And there are 1000s of scientists who have devoted their entire careers studying these exact things. Now it’s true, scientists get things wrong. They debate among each other. And we can talk about that. But the principle of science is that it’s self correcting, that if I say something wrong as a scientist, some other scientists will come up and say, no, wait a minute, here’s my evidence for why you’re wrong. And so slowly, we get more and more knowledge and the things that I’ve told you so far, have been robustly demonstrated. They’re very uncontroversial from a scientific point of view.
Jason Hartman 27:23
Okay. So what is the solution? Is it more lockdowns and quarantines? Is it the vaccine? You know, when you look at these vaccines, you know, what are your thoughts about them there? It’s still very early, obviously. And then how does this whole thing end?
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 27:38
Yeah, so I discussed that in Apollo’s arrow at length. And
Jason Hartman 27:42
that’s why I brought it up because he had a chapter with that title.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 27:46
Exactly. So just as a sidebar, the our ability to invent vaccines in 10 months and show that they work is miraculous. And we are lucky as that our time in the crucible happens to occur at a time when humans actually have the capacity to invent these countermeasures in real time. No previous generation ever has had this capacity. So but the vaccine is not going to be a panacea. I don’t want people listening to this to think, Oh, well, never mind. First of all, many more Americans are going to die. And it reminds you a little bit there was a New Yorker reporter who wrote recently about this. And she pointed out the very poignant fact, that in the six hours between when the armistice was signed to end World War One, and the actual time the news reached the front’s and the fighting stopped. 12,000 additional Americans died. needlessly in six hours, 12,000 Americans died, just because the news hadn’t gotten stop fighting. Okay, similar things happen during the Vietnam War. And it would be a deep irony in our country if we lose another 100,000 or 200,000 Americans, because people don’t behave well right now, while we wait for the vaccine to be rolled out. So yes, the vaccine has been invented. But we need a bunch more steps. We need to manufacture millions of doses, this will take time hundreds of millions of doses, we need to distribute them. Not every hospital or pharmacy has the right for refrigerator refrigerators to store these vaccines, then we need to get people to take the vaccines. So Meanwhile, while all of that’s happening, the virus is still spreading. So we have to continue to behave well until such time as we can vaccinate at least half of the American population. Okay,
Jason Hartman 29:29
so define behaving well. I think I know what you’re gonna say. But
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 29:33
well, we have to if we wish to avoid death in ourselves and in our communities, we have to do minimum things at a minimum, wearing masks, keeping physical distancing, avoiding needless congregations of people, don’t go to restaurants don’t go to bars. If you consolidate your shopping trips, you know, instead of going out to shop twice a week, go once a week, make a list, be efficient, minimize your exposure, thin out the density of people in public places because you’re only going out once Not twice per week, etc. All of these sort of basic things, tolerate school closures, don’t complain about them. We need to as a nation grow up, we need to have faced this enemy with with maturity and wisdom. And we’re not going to we can’t be like children and put our heads in the sand and say, Oh, well, it’s probably nothing or I know I wish to I deeply wish that we didn’t have to have this pathogen among us, I want my life back that I had a year ago. But that’s not the world I live in. I live in a real world in which viruses sometimes afflict us. And incidentally, cholera and other epidemics, like Ebola afflict other parts of the world all the time, we in the United States seem to somehow think that we’re gonna have this. So from my perspective, as a nation, we need to band together, we need to work as we have as a nation before to meet serious challenges, and let our experts and our scientists and our military and all of the other people that will be required to deal with this threat, do their jobs, and do our part as well. Now, so what’s going to be required then is we’re going to still have to live in a temporarily changed world, I would say, at least until the end of 2021. In the book, I say, sometime in 2022, before the biological and epidemiological impact of the virus is behind us at that point, it’ll be behind us. But it’ll still then take another couple of years to overcome the psychological, social and economic impact. So for example, in the real estate industry right now, just like with every other pandemic for 1000s of years, people flee the cities and go to the rural areas. And so you’re seeing I’m sure your listeners are seeing Oh, yeah, evidence of this the prices, I live in rural Vermont, you know, all of a sudden, you know, a 10% shift in the number of buyers is totally changing the
Jason Hartman 31:43
market. Oh, sure. And it’s not really even rural, you know, they can just go to suburbia, because that’s not adequately distance in suburbia. That’s Yes.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 31:51
And people are also saying with working from home, why should I live in a two bedroom apartment in a city with two children and be really cramped? When
Jason Hartman 32:00
a class that costs $5,000 a month versus 15 $100 a month in suburbia will get you a three bedroom, two and a half bath house with a two car garage? Yeah,
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 32:10
exactly. And I’ll still work from home and so on. So plagues always reshape economies. And one thing I want your listeners to understand is, is that it’s not what’s happening to us economically, it’s not so much what we’re doing to ourselves. It’s what the virus is doing to us, that the economy’s shut down for 1000s of years before there were state action. When there’s a deadly contagion effect, people don’t go out and about that, you know, for example, in doing the plague of Justinian, 1500 years ago, the john of Ephesus, a priest talks about how the everything slowed and ceased in the economy stopped, okay. So most of what’s happening to us is not what we’re doing to ourselves, it’s what the virus is doing to us. It’s not our, and if anything, the weak responses of the politicians beginning at the White House, and many governors, the weak response to politicians, because they’re lagging there, they did not show leadership, they did not do what they should have done early on. If anything that responses they’re implementing, like closing schools or closing restaurants and so on, is too little too late, and is intended to reduce the toll of death, we are in some ways, the economy would be even worse. And the toll of death would be even worse, if, for example, we had not closed the schools, or we had not closed the restaurant. So what I want listeners to understand is, is that the economic impacts of the virus are primarily due to the virus not our responses to it. So the real estate industry is being reshaped, and it will be reshaped now, for a while for number of years. If I were a very wealthy man, I would wait a couple of years and buy real estate in abandoned, you know, cities, let’s say because they will come back eventually. But for a while, we’re gonna see
Jason Hartman 33:46
may take a long, long time, though. That’s the only thing but
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 33:49
yes, I agree. Exactly. So So what so what we’re talking about then is when will life returned to normal, so 2022 the biological and epidemiological impact of the virus will be behind us, but it’s still going to take some time to recover from the economic and social shock. Let’s not forget 10s of millions of Americans have lost their jobs. We have printed money up, you know, we printed billions and billions of dollars to as an economic stimulus to report report from this inflation might come back, we might have all kinds of other economic aftershocks, the debt the federal debt has skyrocketed. And people are psychologically traumatized, our children who have not been in school, they’re going to have experienced an adverse childhood event as children have for 1000s of years in times of play, these things will take time to unravel. So my prediction is that judging from past plays, that it’ll be a couple of years, it’ll be 2024. Before we begin to have what I think will be the 21st century equivalent of the roaring 20s after the 1918 pandemic. So, um, let me say, I’ll say one more thing, and then I’ll shut up.
Jason Hartman 34:50
So that’s what I’ve wondered about that. And I’ve really studied and thought a lot lately about the roaring 20s. It’s interesting, you should say that because, you know, I’m sort of Wondering if part of that roaring pneus, if you will, of the roaring 20s was actually a response to the Spanish flu. That, by the way, should be called the Kansas City flu? I guess, you know, because that’s where it really started.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 35:14
Probably we don’t know for sure. But yeah,
Jason Hartman 35:15
yeah. Well, we don’t know anything for sure. But you know, probably, you know, was it sort of like, people felt this sudden burst of optimism, and thought, Oh, my gosh, you know, this weight is lifted off of our shoulders. And now let’s go out and have fun spend money. like there’s no tomorrow. That that is the thing, right? I was thinking that.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 35:34
Yes, yes, that’s exactly right. And that’s what I think is gonna happen. So for example, during times of plague, including now, things like religiosity goes up right there. No atheists in foxholes. So, for 1000s of years when a epidemic is afoot, the plague is an ancient threat. It’s in the Bible. The book is called Apollo’s arrow because this is the opening of the alien, you know, one of the canonical writings of the Western canon, that Homer’s epic poem, the alien, which describes events from 3000 years ago, was a plague. That’s how the book begins. Okay. Now, Shakespeare talks about playing so, but during times of play, people get more religious. They get more abstemious people save money, they become risk averse, for example, and usually, when the plague ends, those things reverse. So people return to their prior level of religiosity. They spend liberally, there’s often sexual licentiousness, people relentlessly seek out social gatherings, nightclubs, bars, pubs, political rallies, music and sporting events, and so on. There’s often an artistic efflorescence that occurs. So I think it’s something similar is likely to happen in the 21st century, beginning around I mean, these are approximate dates 2024, not dissimilar from the roaring 20s. And it sounds like you and I think alike about this topic.
Jason Hartman 36:50
Yeah, interesting. Well, I’d like to switch gears and talk about a couple of your other books. Just we’ve got a few minutes and talk to us about blueprint, you know how that a good society is, is created. I mean, I’m just share with the listeners or viewers your thesis behind that book, you would,
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 37:08
I mean, that was a book I published in 2019. And it took like 10 years of work there, what I’m interested in is how our evolution has shaped not just the structure and function of our bodies, and not just the structure and function of our minds, but also the structure and function of our societies. And I look at a host of traits that I call the social suite, our capacity for love, and friendship, and cooperation, and social learning and teaching the fact that we teach each other things and traits like that traits that we manifest between ourselves, I’m not interested in whether you love yourself, or are kind to yourself, or adjust yourself, I’m interested in whether you love others are kind to others or just to others. Those are traits that we manifest between people. And I’m interested in how evolution shaped those traits. And I show in the book, how we have come have been shaped by natural selection, to have these wonderful qualities, which are lies at the root of a good society. And I look at a number of things I look at, for example, the history of people who’ve had, you know, shipwrecks the book opens with a chapter on shipwrecks, where I say, Okay, what if we, if you were like, a crazy scientist, and you wanted to do an experiment on like, what was the natural social order that a group of people would make? What you’d love to do was take a group of babies and abandon that I’m on an island and somehow miraculously have them be fed and raised, and then come back and see what what kind of social organization did they make for themselves? Incidentally, this experiment has been conceived of by wealthy emperors and kings for 1000s of years. It’s been called the forbidden experiment. But there are stories that some kings have tried this, they typically have been interested in, what kind of language comes naturally to us. And so what they would do is they would take a couple of babies and give them to a mute Shepherd to raise up in the mountains, and then see What language did those children speak if they’ve never been exposed to language? Yeah, right. There.
Jason Hartman 39:07
These are experiments you can’t ethically do.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 39:10
No, that’s right. That’s why it’s called the forbidden experiment. So I said, well, what’s a proxy for that, and a proxy for that might be shipwrecks. And I look at all the shipwrecks that took place between 15 119 100. And I found something like 20 cases, where at least 19 people were stranded for at least two months on some faraway shore. And I looked at all available records. This
Jason Hartman 39:31
is almost like the Blue Lagoon movie.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 39:33
Yes. A little bit like that, except with a larger number of people in a life lesson sexuality. Smallest
Jason Hartman 39:39
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 39:41
But yes, anyway, so in the book, that’s just the beginning of the book, the book does a whole bunch of things blueprint does and, and then attempts to provide an account. I also loved that those were those were inadvertent experiments in social order. And I also looked at advertent or deliberate attempts of social or I looked at the history of communes, you know, for 1000s of years. People have said societies screwed up, let’s go and make a new society and a group of people go to the mountains somewhere and try to make a new society. But they almost always wind up reinventing the same kind of society, and on and on and on. And so I, I look at all of this, and I try to explain what are the fundamental reasons and meaning
Jason Hartman 40:18
of how people live together. And so what what are some of the insights from that? I mean, like, share, share something with us on that, because, well, when you said communes, I’ve got a question about that. But go ahead.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 40:33
Well, no, I’m just, I mean, there’s a whole book so it’s hard to summarize. But But the point is, let me just let me go
Jason Hartman 40:38
so hard to
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 40:40
Well, okay, let me let me give you one, one little story or idea in 18 4018, I think it was either 1849 or 1869. I can’t remember right now, there was almost a perfect natural experiment. In the South Auckland islands south of New Zealand, just north of Antarctica, very godforsaken, very cold place. Two different shipwrecks occurred on the same Island. In the same year on opposite ends of the island. It was almost a perfect natural experiment. On the southern part of the island, the Grafton Rex, five men are swept ashore. And as the boat crashes onto the shore, the captain is sick with a fever in his in his cabin, the other four men make it ashore. And they have to decide what to do about the captain. And they set up a rope line. And they risked their lives to save the captain’s life by fairing him sick as he was through this rope from the surf onto the shore. And these men then proceed to work together. And they do a bunch of things. They set up a school among themselves, where they can teach each other things. There was like a Norwegian and a Portuguese and French men and a bread, you know, they were sort of ethnically diverse as well, which sort of interesting, so they taught each other foreign languages. They built a cabin, they were very resourceful. They live for about two years on the island, and then eventually were able to fabricate a boat sail away and bring back help. And they all survived. At the same time on the northern part of the island, the in virco crashes, 19 men makers ashore, and one of them is injured. He’s at the bottom of the cliffs there at the bottom of the cliffs. And they have very late just puts in their pockets a little bit of hard tack, one of them has some matches, they’re able to light a fire. And then in the kind of disaster, that is the stuff of like comic strips, they’re trying to dry their matches by the fire, and then matches all Ignite. So they lose their whole supply of matches, you know, after getting fire started with one match, and they decide that they’re gonna have to scale the cliffs, but the injured man is abandoned, to die at the bottom of the cliffs. And of those 19 men, all but three of them die before they are eventually rescued off the island by a passing ship.
Jason Hartman 42:46
So this sounds like there’s a very interesting Moral of the story here
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 42:49
there is it’s not just the moral of the story, though. But the point is, the reasons these groups had differential survival related in large measure on their capacity to manifest this social suite that I described this capacity to make a good society, because the making of a good society contributes to our survival, which is why natural selection has shaped us to have these wonderful qualities other animals, very few certain animals, elephants, whales and certain and certain dolphins, certain primates, for example, have friends. Many listeners are taking it for granted that they have friends. Why other animals don’t form long term non reproductive unions to other members of their species, but we do we do it elephants do it elephants independently evolved to have friendships, dolphins, independently vaulted friendships, and we do it in certain other primates. So it’s astonishing this capacity for friendship that we have where we have we would make sacrifices for people who are not genetically related to us.
Jason Hartman 43:48
Is that really out of a quid pro quo kind of idea? Or, you know, do we just realize that there’s a greater good?
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 43:57
Well, you’ll have once that’s discussed that there’s a very subtle point that you just made, the quid pro quo. Friendship is not a market type exchange. Because think about it, a quid pro quo is exactly the antithesis of what friendship is, if you set your friend
Jason Hartman 44:14
well, fair enough, but it’s maybe like a layaway, right? Certainly friends do things for each other. And some people sadly enter the bargain that way, and you can usually ferret them out, because they’re, you know, two on the take, if you will, but you know, there’s certainly an element of that, right. And
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 44:32
Jason Hartman 44:33
what I’m getting at, by the way, in bringing that up, and I know we’ve got to wrap it up fairly soon here, but it’s I’m getting at how far do you take this idea? You know, if you look at like the kibbutz, the Israeli Kibbutz, and then you look at you know, Karl Marx and you know, communism and the disaster that that was, you know, where do you go on that? Yeah, so go ahead.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 44:54
No, I discussed Kibbutz is at length in blueprint. That’s a very good and interesting example. And and I also discussed Some accelerate, discuss and take the task certain communistic ideas that I think are unnatural, you know, they don’t work, actually. But that’s a different point. The origins of friendship are interesting. The cooperative interactions that are quid pro quo also exist in our species. I’ll give you this, you give me that which lies at the foundation of market exchange. But friendship is altogether different. If your friend says here, let me borrow. Here’s my car, you can your car’s broken, you can use my car for a month, you know, I don’t need it, don’t worry about it. And you say, That’s okay, Bob, I’ll repay you next week. That’s not a friendship. But you would never say that if you said that. Your friend would be what do you think this is? You think I’m you know, I’m renting you my car? No, you were friends, of course. And not only that, but friendship typically, not only do they often have asymmetric, but they have heterogeneous exchanges. In other words, friends do different services for each other. For example, you might, you know, take my child in for a summer internship. And then five years later, you might ask me for some totally different Saber, you know, can you borrow my house for your daughter’s wedding or something, you know, they’re completely dissimilar, separated in time and nature, in extent that to say how big the favors are, sometimes they’re never repaid. And not only that, but we evolved to feel good in the presence of our friends asked me this, when you get together with friends, you get that good feeling. That good feeling you get in the presence of your friends, was shaped by natural selection. Anyway, there’s lots of examples or discussion in the book about the origins of friendship that provides a deep explanation for why we do that, and why it’s different than certain other kinds of interactions people might have. Incidentally, it’s that capacity for the the free exchange of information. And for working together and for cooperation, these are the tools we’re going to use, in order to beat the virus. The way we survive. this epidemic, is by working together, you alone can do nothing. To stop the epidemic. We have to work together to stop the epidemic. We have to exchange information with each other and our capacities to work together and share information. And the origins of those capacities are in fact, the subject of blueprint as compared to Apollo zero.
Jason Hartman 47:10
Yeah, very interesting. Well, I know we’ve got to wrap it up. Nicholas, thank you so much for these insights. And that was a good way to bring it back kind of full circle on to the pandemic discussion. give out your website or a Twitter handle or whatever you’d like.
Dr. Nicholas Christakis 47:23
My my Twitter handle is and a Christakis ch ri St. A k is na Christakis Apollo’s arrow. The profound and enduring impact of Coronavirus on the way we live is of course available on Amazon and bookstores everywhere. And if you’re technically interested, my website is human nature lab dotnet human nature lab dotnet. And you can find all our scientific papers and a bunch of other stuff there if if you’re so inclined. Nicholas, thank you so much for joining us.
Jason Hartman 47:59
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