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MIT Sloan Throughout the Crisis: Leading the Conversation (continued)

Andrew LoProf. Andrew Lo

A good example of this kind of transparency can be seen in the events that followed the crash of U.S. Air Flight 1589 into the Hudson River in January of 2008. “After that incident, the country could easily have descended into a mass panic,” he says. “Rumors could have started floating around that it was a terrorist attack — that Al-Qaeda had sabotaged one of the engines. But that didn’t happen . The National Transportation Safety Board has a well-oiled machine that reacts very quickly, descending on a site and taking control of all communications to provide information to the public immediately. This way, the press doesn’t have to report rumors, and this calms people’s fears.”

It is hardly surprising then that Lo sees education as a key element in maintaining a more stable worldwide economy, not just at the university level, he says, but all the way down to high school and even junior high school. “There has always been a tension between rational decision making and emotional reactions,” he explains. “The way that humans are able to constrain their emotional tendencies, their fear and greed, is through the cold light of logic and understanding.” To this end Lo has repeatedly made his vast experience and expertise available wherever it was needed. Whether it was giving a presentation at the Brookings Institute, organizing a standing-room-only presentation on the MIT Sloan campus, or presenting his research to the Congressional Oversight Committee, he has made himself not just an expert on the crisis, but also a part of the solution.

“I think that is a responsibility of every higher educational learning institution,” he says. “It has been very heartening to see colleagues here and at other universities be prepared to spend as much time as necessary. We have all been very fortunate to live in a country that has been so successful, with so much wealth. So we need to do what we can — this is the least we can do.”

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