Timothy Newfield’s Opinion Piece: “Nothing Was the Same: Historical Parallels for the Coronavirus Should Be Avoided like the Plague”

Painting by Spanish artist Michel Serre of the upheaval of a bubonic plague outbreak in Marseille, 1720
Marseille, 1720: A painting by Spanish artist Michel Serre shows the upheaval of a bubonic plague outbreak that he witnessed firsthand. It would be Western Europe's last major encounter with bubonic plague. Marseille, Musée des Beaux-Art; public domain

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In this opinion piece published in The Globe and Mail, Timothy Newfield addresses historical parallels regarding pandemics. He argues that our instinct to look to the past for ways forward can be harmful when it comes to pandemics. That is because linkages between past and present requires simplification, and oversimplification can lead to anachronism. Furthermore, when we hunt for similarities, we overlook everything that’s different – and that is dangerous.

Read the opinion piece on The Globe and Mail.