Hubris has been a destructive force throughout history, and it seems to be rearing its ugly head again in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. As we grapple with the ongoing pandemic, it is crucial to recognize the role hubris plays in decision-making and its potential impact on our lives and organizations. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of hubris, how it affects our response to COVID-19, and how we can learn from it to avoid making similar mistakes in our personal and professional lives.

What is Hubris?

Hubris is defined as excessive pride or arrogance that results from an inflated sense of self-worth or importance. It often leads to overconfidence, which can have disastrous consequences. Historically, hubris has been a driving force behind many conflicts, including World War II. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, hubris is manifesting itself in the denial of scientific evidence and expertise, as well as a disregard for the advice of public health officials.

COVID-19 and the Resurgence of Hubris

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, the role of hubris in our response to the pandemic becomes increasingly evident. Some elected officials and members of the public are choosing to ignore the advice of public health experts and scientists, instead relying on their own beliefs and opinions. This is a dangerous approach, as it can lead to decisions that are not based on the most accurate and up-to-date information.

The problem with this mindset is that opinions are not facts. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, opinions are personal expressions of feelings or thoughts that may not be grounded in data or evidence. Conversely, facts are statements that can be proven true or false based on supporting data or evidence. By ignoring scientific evidence and expert advice, we are putting ourselves at greater risk and prolonging the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The Human and Economic Costs of Hubris

The denial of scientific evidence and expertise in the face of COVID-19 has had severe consequences regarding human lives and economic costs. As of now, over 130,000 people have died in the U.S. due to COVID-19, and this number continues to rise. In addition to the immediate loss of life, long-term health consequences exist for those who survive the virus. Research shows that survivors may experience strokes, blood clotting, heart, lung, and neurological damage. Furthermore, studies on SARS, a COVID precursor, indicate that psychiatric morbidities and chronic fatigue may persist for years after recovery.

These long-term health consequences will also have a lasting economic impact. As survivors struggle with increased health issues, the economic effects of COVID-19 will continue well beyond the development of a vaccine or the achievement of herd immunity. The cost of hubris in this context is immense, with severe repercussions for both human lives and the economy.

Learning from the COVID-19 Crisis: Avoiding Hubris in Our Own Lives

As we navigate the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it is essential to recognize the dangers of hubris and take steps to avoid it in our personal and professional lives. Here are some suggestions for combating hubris:

  1. Be open to new information and be willing to change your mind.
    When presented with new data or evidence, be open to reevaluating your beliefs and opinions. This flexibility will allow you to make more informed decisions.
  2. Recognize the limits of your own knowledge and expertise.
    No one is an expert in everything, so it is crucial to acknowledge when you are out of your depth and seek advice from those with relevant expertise.
  3. Emphasize facts over opinions.
    When making decisions, prioritize factual information and evidence over personal feelings or beliefs. This will help ensure that your choices are grounded in reality and have a solid foundation.
  4. Foster a culture of humility and learning.
    In your personal and professional life, create an environment where people feel comfortable admitting and learning from their mistakes. This can help prevent the development of hubris and encourage continuous growth and improvement.
  5. Encourage open dialogue and collaboration.
    Promote open communication and collaboration among team members, colleagues, and friends. This can help ensure that a variety of perspectives and expertise are considered, ultimately leading to better decision-making.
  6. Be aware of confirmation bias.
    We all have a tendency to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs while disregarding evidence that contradicts them. Be conscious of this tendency and actively work to challenge your own biases.
  7. Practice empathy and compassion.
    Take the time to put yourself in others’ shoes and consider their perspectives and feelings. This can help to counteract the arrogance and self-centeredness that often accompany hubris.
  8. Reflect on past experiences and learn from them.
    Regularly review your past decisions and actions, identifying instances where hubris may have played a role. Use these experiences as learning opportunities to prevent similar mistakes in the future.


The resurgence of hubris during the COVID-19 crisis serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of arrogance and overconfidence. By recognizing the role of hubris in our decision-making processes and taking steps to avoid it, we can minimize its destructive consequences on our lives and organizations. As we continue to navigate the pandemic, let us use this opportunity to learn from our mistakes and strive for humility, open-mindedness, and fact-based decision-making.


Copyright (c) 2020, Marc A. Borrelli

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