MARCH 2021 District Bulletin    

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From the Governor's Desk
herd immunity
Having moved to Idaho fifteen years ago, I will never forget the first time I was driving to work from my home in Oakley and I encountered something like this, completely blocking the road:
Despite my being in a vehicle and being superior in size and strength to any individual sheep, I was powerless to take on this herd.  And in this case, the power of the herd was both a noun (i.e. a large group) and a verb (i.e. to assemble or move).
One interesting application of the “power of the herd” is this phenomenon: when we come together as a “Human Swarm,” a concept called the “Wisdom of Crowds” can be tapped into.  The phrase “two heads are better than one” pales in comparison when it relates to the idea of even more people coming together to share their individual thoughts and ideas. In practice, it is simply stated as this, when forming a collective: the more the merrier!
In one study of this phenomenon, 800 people at a regional fair guessed the weight of an ox. The average of all the guesses was 1,197 pounds, and it was just one pound away from the ox’s true weight of 1,198 pounds.  In another study, 56 students guessed the number of jellybeans in a jar. The average of all the guesses was 871, and it was closer to the actual number of 850 than all but 1 of the other 55 guesses. 
This phenomenon has even been observed in more important items, like predicting the winners of sports tournaments, as well as the Oscars.  With the Oscars one year, the herd consistently performed better than even the most skilled experts and successfully predicted the winner in 15 out of 16 categories. In fact, since we are just finishing up March Madness, recently a herd of just 50 average basketball fans providing input through a software system that created a singular bracket, not only successfully predicted the national champion, but the completed bracket finished in the Top 8% of the 17 million brackets submitted to ESPN, even outperforming their highly-paid experts!
The power of the herd does more than just reveal the wisdom of the crowd; instead, it unlocks the collective intelligence of all the people present.
The Power of Rotary is truly that Rotary Opens Opportunities for all of us to come together to work towards eliminating so many problems that exist in the world.  For example, Rotarians flocked together back in 1979 with the idea of administering the polio vaccine to all the children in the Philippines.
Then, Rotarians made the decision to take on the world in 1985. It is hard to fathom that back in 1981, over 450,000 people were afflicted with this awful virus, compared with now, where a relatively small number of new cases still exist in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 
We, as a herd of Rotarians, have contributed more than $2.1 billion and countless hours to protect nearly 3 billion children in 122 countries from the polio virus. We, as a herd of Rotarians, have reduced polio cases by 99.9% since our first project began back in 1979. And we all know that now, we are just this close to eradicating this awful disease. On behalf of Rotary International, I thank each of you for your past, present, and future contributions to the Polio Plus initiative!
In these past 12 months, we have all been more than aware of the term “herd immunity” as something that we are hoping and working toward.  As Rotarians, when we come together as members, we are effectively creating a type of Herd that unlocks all of our collective wisdom and abilities: “Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.”
And as Rotarians, Rotary Opens Opportunities for us to see the problems that exist in the world and solve them.  We thus help create Herd Immunity for people all over the world from the problems that they are struggling with, whatever they may be.
This is the Power of the Herd and this is the Power of Rotary!

Ben Nelson '20-'21 District 5400 Governor

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