Vaccine Disconnect

Refuseniks are far more confident than those already vaccinated.

The headline from YouGov‘s latest poll, “Half of vaccine rejectors believe it is safe to travel now, compared to 29% of vaccinated adults,” tells us a lot about the current state of affairs in America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now say it is safe for fully vaccinated Americans to travel. But those most willing to travel right now may reject much else that the CDC suggests.

In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, three in 10 Americans who have received at least one vaccinate shot (29%) believe it is safe for them to travel within the United States today. By contrast, half of the one in four Americans who reject the vaccine believe it is safe for them to venture out now. 

Half of those who reject vaccines (52%) also say it is safe for them today to socialize (compared to just 30% of all Americans). Another 45% say it is safe for them to go without a mask now. Just one in five Americans overall (21%) think it is safe to go maskless today.  

Many vaccine rejectors have little confidence in advice from leading national medical figures, like the CDC or Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Instead, nearly half in this group trust advice from former President Donald Trump. Only 21% of vaccine rejectors trust advice from the CDC, and just 13% trust medical advice from Dr. Fauci. 

For the most part, vaccine rejectors believe there is little risk to themselves from COVID-19. Half (51%) rarely (29%) or never (22%) wear a mask in public; just 29% are even somewhat worried they might contract COVID-19, and 41% are not worried at all. 

This is the case even though many vaccine rejectors have experienced COVID-19 in their own circle. Half of vaccine rejectors have a close friend (25%) or family member (27%) who tested positive. One in nine (11%) say they themselves have been diagnosed with the virus (this group may consider themselves immune after infection, though the length of any immunity after a positive diagnosis is not yet clear).  

Vaccine rejection and skepticism is entwined in politics. Vaccine rejection is five times higher among Republicans (40%) than among Democrats (8%). There is a success story among those 65 and older, however. Eight in ten senior citizens (82%) say they will be vaccinated (15%) or already have been (67%).  

So, I have received both doses of Moderna and will be two weeks from the second shot, and thus “fully vaccinated” by CDC standards, come Wednesday. My wife is a few weeks behind me, having received her first dose two days after I got my second. The three over-16s will likely get their first shots later in the month. We’ll likely vacation this summer, including my two under-16 daughters, because we think the risk pretty low by that point.

Clearly, partisan politics is driving the difference in attitude here. While the crosstabs aren’t available in the survey data, party ID matters more than age, education level, or gender.

Those in my age cohort and younger who are otherwise healthy really shouldn’t be living in terror over a disease that most of us would survive without hospitalization. But it’s just nuts to reject getting a vaccine that has proven over months of testing to be safe and effective. Or to be “not worried at all” about a pandemic that has already killed half a million of your countrymen.

FILED UNDER: COVID-19, Health, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Like someone, well everyone, said, mask wearing is an IQ test.

    And check your last sentence.

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  2. Jen says:

    People who have thought from the beginning that this is no big deal think it’s safe to travel isn’t really a disconnect. They are simply just as dumb now as they were when the pandemic began.

    Those in my age cohort and younger who are otherwise healthy really shouldn’t be living in terror over a disease that most of us would survive without hospitalization.

    It apparently bears repeating that death isn’t the only poor outcome. A friend’s teenage son is no longer able to participate in the sport he loves because of long-covid issues and problems, such as his heart rate and oxygen levels dropping and shortness of breath. “Surviving” vs. not surviving is the type of binary thinking that consistently gets Americans in trouble.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Axios has a piece up showing that vaccinations have hit a wall and the US may never reach herd immunity and in fact will fall far short. As you might expect, regions of the country will achieve immunity while others will be dealing with packed hospitals and death for a while.

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  4. Teve says:

    Those in my age cohort and younger who are otherwise healthy really shouldn’t be living in terror over a disease that most of us would survive without hospitalization

    Living in terror is laying it on a bit thick, but it’s not death that scares me, or should scare anybody in your cohort, it’s the potential long-term consequences from blood vessel damage, strokes, impotence, heart attacks, tooth loss, lung damage, headaches, anosmia, fatigue and brain fog that’s still with you after months or possibly longer… Long Covid is a much higher risk than death, and while the numbers we have on the incidence are preliminary, educated guesses are 5 to 10% of people who got infected still have symptoms two months later.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Jen: @Teve: It’s to soon to know for sure but I gather that vaccination has worked wonders against long-haul effects from the disease.

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  6. Jen says:

    @James Joyner: True, but teens aren’t broadly eligible yet for vaccines, and not all long-haulers have had their symptoms dissipate. We also don’t know what much longer-term (as in, multi-year) outcomes look like yet, and there’s increasing evidence that more people than originally thought have long-term symptoms, even from very mild covid cases.

    I’m not saying we should “live in terror,” but blithely waving off this disease doesn’t seem wise either. There’s a wide spectrum of possible outcomes.

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  7. Teve says:

    @James Joyner: right, and that’s what motivated me to get the shot as soon as I possibly could. But I was referring to the whole cohort, many of whom are not vaccinated. Especially because at least one of the new variants is hitting younger people much harder than the initial strain.

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  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    LA Times Covid tracker shows cases up 1% and deaths down 46%. I’ve always thought mask compliance would follow death rate, not infection rate. @Jen: is right, we only think in binary, death or not death. Same will be true of vaccination, as death rates drop, so will vaccinations.

    It seems likely that big pharma will be able to keep tweaking vaccines to cope with variants, and likely that rational people will get necessary booster shots and probably stay ahead of the threat. Soon the only people dying of Covid will be people who can’t get the shot for medical reasons (an unfortunate but small percentage) and people literally too fucking stupid to live.

    We will soon be reaching the point where virtually all deaths will be in groups actively thinning their own herd, carrying out a mass, slow-motion Trump cult suicide. Is anyone surprised?

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  9. Jax says:

    We are in Idaho shopping for a prom dress. Mask-wearing is, at best, 10% amongst the general public, but closer to 100% of employees at businesses we’ve been to so far. Every sit-down restaurant we passed on our way back to our hotel had full parking lots and groups of people in line for a table, no masks/social distancing that I could see.

    I wouldn’t have picked this hotel if I’d known there was going to be a large wedding party, complete with rowdy kids and maskless assholes roaming the property. 😐

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  10. Teve says:

    @Jax: the region of Idaho that I drove through on I-90 was beautiful. But as I don’t plan on building a Neo-Nazi compound any time soon it’s really not my vibe. 😀

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  11. grumpy realist says:

    I suspect that you can kiss your sweet patootie on the chances of any foreign travel for Americans to quite a few countries, then…..at least without 14 days of quarantine or an up-to-date-vaccine history.

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  12. I have to wonder how much this reluctance would change if Trump came out and said he’d been vaccinated and his supporters should do the same.

    This won’t happen, of course, because Trump doesn’t care exactly about others to do something like that.

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  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    People who think there is no need to wear a mask during a pandemic that has already killed over 500,001 Americans also don’t think they need to get vaccinated before they travel.

    I am not surprised.

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  14. Pete S says:

    Hitting a vaccine wall at this point seems like the group equivalent of an individual who stops taking their antibiotics before the end of the prescription because they are feeling a little better. Idiots. There is no polite term.

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  15. Stormy Dragon says:

    I’m confused by the graph…

    It claims to have been based on a poll April 3-6 2021, but the “safe right now” and the “safe in Spring 2021” results don’t match

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  16. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    This past March, Trump did make the following statement:
    “I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly. It’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine and it’s one that works.”

    Didn’t work, clearly. One of Trump’s followers pointed out that Trump had been “duped too many times by the deep-state globalists” to be trusted on this issue.

    It’s interesting that something Trump wants full credit for producing is so mistrusted by his loyalists, who believe it will alter their DNA.

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  17. @CSK:

    Oh dear lord

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  18. senyordave says:

    @CSK: I knew all along that Trump was part of the Deep State. Who’s next, Alex Jones?

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  19. CSK says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    Well, the vax will:
    A) Alter their DNA
    B) Sterilize them, courtesy of Gates/Soros
    C) Implant a microchip in them, again courtesy of Gates/Soros

    Take your pick.

    @senyordave:

    No, no, no. Trump was duped by the Deep State.

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  20. Teve says:

    @CSK:

    D) Will make them dress in drag and involuntarily Samba when they hear Carmen Miranda’s music.

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  21. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    😀 That, too.

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  22. Mimai says:

    I understand and share the frustration (expressed clearly, loudly, and repeatedly on OTB) about people who could but don’t wear masks or get vaccinated. It’s often asserted that these people are dumb, low IQ, imbeciles.

    I suspect that some of these assertions are not to be taken at face value. Rather, they are meant really as an expression of frustration. Yet others are indeed made in earnest. That is, the asserter really believes that all of these people really and truly are “too stupid to live.”

    Regardless, I suspect everyone around here (ok, there are a few exceptions who shall not be named) shares the desire for these people to mask up and get vaccinated. So the question then becomes, “how do we facilitate (increase the odds of) that?”

    Before offering my own thoughts, I’m curious what others think. If you are part of the “fuck ’em, there’s no reaching any of these people” crowd, then I politely ask you to reconsider your defeatism. Or if that is too much to ask, pretend you don’t have a defeatist attitude (aka, act “as if”) and then think of how you might approach the topic.

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  23. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK: B) Sterilize them, courtesy of Gates/Soros

    We should be so lucky.

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  24. Teve says:

    @Mimai: Smart people can believe kooky things, it’s true. In one of Michael Shermer‘s books he states that, well, you might think that smarter people would be immune from crazy beliefs, when in fact sometimes they’re simply better at justifying crazy beliefs.

    But there’s also a large group who fall for kooky things because they simply have no broad liberal education which would trigger alarm bells to ideas that are incommensurate with a reasonable understanding of the world. A lot of those people are going to be like some of my Eastern KY relatives, and their lack of education makes them insecure and they relieve that by believing in conspiracy theories. And a lot of those people are going to get labeled stupid. And as you know it’s very easy to just throw up your hands and call people names when you’re frustrated—it’s one of my favorite activities!

    Regardless, I suspect everyone around here (ok, there are a few exceptions who shall not be named) shares the desire for these people to mask up and get vaccinated. So the question then becomes, “how do we facilitate (increase the odds of) that?”

    The people who study communication have figured out some productive behaviors. As I’m sure you know, arguing accomplishes nothing and can even be counterproductive. The Comm people can give advice on how to reach out, how not to trigger defense mechanisms, how to empathize with the other person. But it’s hard work. 😛

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  25. Teve says:

    P.S. it’s especially hard to take the enlightened path when you’re dealing with people of a hostile, anti-intellectual subculture who vote in politicians who consciously hurt your gay friends, your women friends, your poor friends, your Trans friends…

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  26. IdaHokie says:

    @Jax: Where in Idaho? Compliance is strong here in Boise, but we have a mayor and city council that give a damn. Not so much with the rest of the state.

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  27. dazedandconfused says:

    @Doug Mataconis:
    I think their primary information source isn’t Trump, it’s the RW media which continues to spout what they believe Trump’s crowd wants to hear.

    I like that Hot Air article. I think he’s right there, and the scenario I believe we are in for is once everybody who wants to be vaccinated is, the masks will come off, restrictions will be removed, and COVID will spread through the unvaccinated like crazy. Whatever the effect that will have on our health-care providers in the ensuing months, the result of a population nearly all either vaccinated or recovered will be achieved fairly rapidly. I wouldn’t label it a wall, tipping-point seems appropriate.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Lived in Spokane during the early 90s. Beautiful country. Scary right wing population. Seem to be enough liberals to maintain a fragile balance.

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  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: In my little corner of Red State Murka, one of the more interesting curses of the vaccine is that getting vaccinated is “taking the mark of the Beast” (from the Book of the Revelations), but I haven’t been able to track that down. Anybody here know anything concrete, or is this just a regional anomaly (like a Covid-19 variant)?

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  30. Mimai says:

    @Teve:
    Thanks for a thoughtful comment. People believe things for a host of reasons. Lack of a “broad liberal education” is one of them, but the data don’t support it as a primary one (in general, I’m not sure about COVID in particular though I suspect it is no different).

    As you note, there are good data from communication folks and others. And these data (and the principles that derive from them) are not buried in obscure paywalled journals. Rather, they are widely available to interested people.

    Which brings me to one of my points. It is striking to me how few people actually avail themselves of this body of work. You rightly note that it can be hard, but it’s not impossible. And its, er, hardness doesn’t seem to be the primary barrier. So what is the barrier (rhetorical question)?

    And you rightly note in follow-up that it’s especially hard when dealing with a certain type of people. Trust me, I know! But you (we) have options here, among them (a) don’t deal with such people at all, (b) sneer at such people and call them names, thus making oneself feel superior but doing nothing (or worse) about the problem, and (c) deal with such people in a productive (what you call enlightened) manner because the stakes are too high not to.

    Seems like people (myself included) are all too ready to select a and b. So again, I ask, why the aversion to c?

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  31. Teve says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Lots of things are the Mark of the Beast. Mandatory Government ID used to be the MotB until they realized they could suppress black votes with it.

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  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai:

    I politely ask you to reconsider your defeatism.

    For me, it’s not defeatism, it’s hard heartedness. Everyone has agency and agency empowers you to control your own destiny. I’m old enough and self-isolated enough (for example, I have more acquaintances from my 8 years in Korea than I do from a former and current lifetime in the United States) that I simply don’t need to care what happens to people who use their agency foolishly.

    If you want to talk about “for their own good” levels, the government and global community both have the ability to force vaccination or isolate dissidents. I choose not to go there and believe that you can’t sell what people don’t want to buy. You have decided to try to save people from themselves. This evangelical has decided not to. How ironic is that?

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  33. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    That belief seems to be fairly widespread among fundamentalists.

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  34. Teve says:

    @Mimai:

    Lack of a “broad liberal education” is one of them, but the data don’t support it as a primary one

    this is not really my wheelhouse, but I suspect it’s incorrect.

    Less-educated Americans more inclined to see some truth in conspiracy theory that COVID-19 was planned

    Why Education Predicts Decreased Belief in Conspiracy Theories

    Is Education Tied To Conspiracy Theory Belief? (tl;dr: yes)

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  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Yeah. I’ve known people who worried about needing to have a SSN. [sigh…]

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  36. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I simply don’t need to care what happens to people who use their agency foolishly.

    Fair enough. I suspect that others (including people you care about…even if they all live in Korea) don’t have that luxury.

    I am not a “for their own good” person, nor am I one to “save people from themselves.” I suspect that OTBers vary on this. Regardless, the “public good” is consistently invoked around here (and more broadly), especially when it comes to COVID.

    This strikes me as incompatible with the lack of action re productive communication. If I were an economist, I might say: stated preferences != revealed preferences.

    you can’t sell what people don’t want to buy

    The data disagree with you.

    ps, to close on a lighter note, I got a kick out of your evangelical irony. You are large, you contain multitudes!

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  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: That fundies would believe it is not surprising at all. I grew up among fundies. Do you know of any particular fundie leaders who are advocating such ideas though? That’s what I’m not finding. I’m curious about the contemporary origin. So far, it seems to be a spontaneous generation thing, but it doesn’t follow the pattern for that because a vaccination usually leaves no mark at all. Injection sites are hard to spot unless they’re so common that veins collapse and such. And they heal over in a day or three.

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  38. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: Oh I agree that many of my acquaintances do not have the luxury of approaching the world from my viewpoint. Most of them are probably better at being human because of it.

    The data disagree with you.

    Then the people who understand the data either know how to use it or can figure out how to. Your insecurity would seem to me to hint that the data don’t disagree with me as much as you might hope. (And I would love to be wrong in my view.)

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  39. Mimai says:

    @Teve:
    I know this may sound pedantic, but I don’t intend it to be. I really do wish we would distinguish “education/educated” from “schooling/schooled”.

    Moreover, I was under the impression we were discussing beliefs in general….or what scientists might call “kooky” beliefs if we got more specific. Conspiracy theories fall under that category, but so do a lot of other things. Regardless, I cede the point about “education” and conspiracy theories.

    As with many discussions, we seem to be less in disagreement after we clarify our terms. (The analytical philosopher in me is punching me in the face…..fortunately, he fits the stereotype and so my face is no worse for the wear.)

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  40. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I don’t understand what you mean by my “insecurity.” Can you clarify?

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  41. CSK says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    What I read was that some pastors are trying valiantly to persuade their flocks that no, the vaccine won’t give you the mark of the beast.

    Marjorie Taylor Greene–she of Jewish space laser fame–argues that Joe Biden’s vaccine passports equal the mark of the beast.

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  42. Teve says:

    @CSK: one day two of my least favorite concepts will merge and evangelicals will announce that Bitcoin’s symbol BTC stands for BeasT Coin. 😀

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  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Mimai: My position is “you can’t sell people what they don’t want to buy,” and your reply was “the data disagree with [me],” but the tone of your original comment seems to me to carry a presumption that there is every possibility that we can’t convince [some/a significant number of] people to get vaccinated and need a plan to convince them (which is undoubtedly true in any event). It’s possible (even likely) that I heard more than/different things from what you said, but your request strikes me a not being confident that we can sell vaccination to the dissenters. Beyond that, classifying those who disagree as “defeatists” is a rhetorical tool that I taught my students when they were writing argument. It carries a connotation different from “pessimists.” At least to my ear.

    ETA: Good comment on the difference between education and schooling. Too many “discussions” on that among my peers to count, alas.

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  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Ah. I see what you mean. Thank you. On the other hand, that still leaves me with a lot of dots between “Christians shouldn’t get vaccinated as a moral stand (1985 stem cell clones)” and getting vaccinated is being “in league with Satan in a coming end times scenario.” Big jump, but not your problem; you didn’t propose it. And I’m relieved to know that fundie/evangelical pastors are not doing it en masse either. WA!

    ETA: MTG’s comment is boilerplate stuff that goes back to SSNs and Dubya’s National ID–which ironically enough was called out first by New Agers, not evangelicals.

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  45. Jax says:

    @IdaHokie: Idaho Falls. I was more encouraged by the stores I went to today, every single one denied entry unless you were willing to mask up. There were a couple people that got angry about it that I saw, but for the most part, they had tough ol’ grannies running the door that weren’t gonna take no shit. 😉

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  46. Mimai says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Thanks for clarifying. I apologize for conveying a dismissive attitude in my previous comment. It wasn’t my intent. Although in hindsight, I can see that my curt response may have conveyed as much.

    Nor did I intend to label people as defeatist – indeed, I took care to label the attitude, not the people, as such. Regardless, I acknowledge that I ought to take more care in making such things clear.

    At the end of the day, my position is that we “should” try more often to nudge people in the “right” direction and that there are evidence-based methods for doing so.

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  47. Scott O says:

    @Mimai:
    “So again, I ask, why the aversion to c?”
    Because beating one’s head against a wall is easier and less painful?

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  48. Jax says:

    @Mimai: I’ve pondered this a lot the last 48 hours.

    We’ve lived this way for a year now. For allllll of the reasons, many of our fellow Americans are unreachable as far as wearing a mask or getting a vaccine. I really don’t WANT to be the person who says “You know what, fuck ’em”, but that’s where I’m at. That’s how they regard me and my “medically sensitive” family members that I’ve tried so hard to keep safe. We’re “DemonRats” and “living in fear”. They don’t care that they could infect the people I love, why should I care about them? Why should I try to get through to people who don’t give a flying rat’s ass about anyone but themselves?

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  49. Jax says:

    And for the record, BEFORE I went to Idaho, I was pretty sure the only cow I ever wanted to see again would be one served medium-rare on a platter.

    After dealing with civilization, I’m so happy to see my cows again! 😛

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  50. gVOR08 says:

    Refuseniks are far more confident than those already vaccinated.

    Sounds like a Dunning-Kruger thing.

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  51. Mimai says:

    @Scott O:
    No doubt it seems easier and less painful. I feel you on that. Oh do I feel you on that. Have you tried to engage these people using evidence-based means of communication? Honest question, not accusatory.

    I try to approach this like an addiction, such as nicotine. It may not work the first time, or the second time, or 50th time, but that’s not to say it won’t work on the 51st time. And there are evidence-based principles that increase the odds of it working.

    It wouldn’t matter if the stakes were low. But the stakes are high when it comes to COVID. And if I truly consider this a public health emergency, then I am damn near “obligated” to keep trying.

    Acknowledging that it’s hard and painful and demoralizing, I remain struck by how few people actually try to engage people in a productive manner on this……in a manner that actually has some hope of reaching them.

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  52. Mimai says:

    @Jax:

    They don’t care that they could infect the people I love, why should I care about them? Why should I try to get through to people who don’t give a flying rat’s ass about anyone but themselves?

    I hear you on all that. Really I do. And I’m not suggesting that you should care about them. You caring about them is beside the point. You care about your people. As you should. I’m suggesting that by trying to get through to these people (the non-mask wearing, non-vaccine taking), using evidence-based principles of communication, you might very well be saving the lives of your people.

    And again, to reiterate my central point, it is striking to me how few people actually try, on a consistent basis, to nudge these people in the “right” direction.

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  53. Mimai says:

    @Jax: Your cows are no doubt amazing. And not assholes. Would that humans were more like cows. Generous and obliging. Except for the heifers. Those beasts are unruly and selfish and all kinds of needy. But eventually they grow up. As did we. Some of us that is. At least on our good days.

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  54. Jax says:

    @Mimai: I dunno, man, two days in a row I had two sets of seasoned, experienced cows trying to claim the same calf, and when we brought 8 of them (4 mom’s, 4 babies) down to the corral, one of each set got so mad they wouldn’t claim ANY calf, not even the one they wanted in the first place (Neither one of which happened to be theirs, they were trying to steal another cow’s calf). I have both their babies in my barn on bottles.

    That’s the mindset I see from Trumpublican’s. If I can’t have my way, fuck everyone else.

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  55. Scott O says:

    @Mimai:
    “Have you tried to engage these people using evidence-based means of communication?”
    Once upon a time I tried. Evidence is irrelevant. Do you think there is anything you could say to someone who thinks that Trump won the election that could persuade them otherwise?

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  56. Jax says:

    @Scott O: Besides a 2×4 upside the head or an AR? No. The best we can hope for, at this point, is that they’ll get sick as fuck and reconsider. Having watched many of my neighbors be totally fine with their parents getting COVID and dying, calling it “nature’s will”, then fighting over the inheritance….

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  57. Mimai says:

    @Jax:
    Ha! Clearly this is the fault of the ranch owner (aka, deep state)!

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  58. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Riiiight???!!! I’m totally coming to steal their babies for their adrenochrome. 😉

    Let’s not even get into the story about the cow who sucks her own teats and steals all her baby’s food. There’s a special level of hell for that cow. She’ll be available at a McDonald’s soon, she whispered in my ear that she wants the fast track out of here.

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  59. Mimai says:

    @Scott O:

    Evidence is irrelevant.

    This is no doubt true for many. I do want to distinguish “evidence” from evidence-based communication principles. I think this is where many people miss the mark. They try to convince others based on the science, evidence, reality, etc. That approach makes sense because that this is the currency you (and many of us) privilege.

    But that is not always the primary currency of the people you are trying to convince. Evidence-based principles of communication posit that you are more likely to reach these people, and nudge them in the “right” direction, if you engage them with their preferred currency. Note, I am not saying that you should adopt racist, sexist, or any other -ist perspective.

    Rather, I am saying that most people are motivated by a host of different reasons – some ugly, some neutral, and some (surprisingly) honorable. And that you are likely to find some non-noxious lever to pull on that increases the likelihood of reaching them.

    It takes patience and intent. It is not easy. And it is not sure-proof. But given the stakes (ie, a public health catastrophe), is it not worth it?

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  60. Mimai says:

    @Jax: Oh dear god! I’ve heard of human men joking about removing a rib, but damn… A cow sucking her own teat… To steal her baby’s food!? My brain can’t even process that level of depravity. The only thing that will allow me to sleep tonight is by taking solace in the knowledge that Q’s Army is on the hunt for these wretched beasts. Perhaps they will end up on a pizza somewhere in middle America.

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  61. Jax says:

    @Mimai: We all WANT everyone to be willing to get their shot. But how do we convince those opposite from us to do so, until they experience it themselves? They don’t care about us, or their own families who are medically sensitive.

    It’s interesting, really. Everybody that I am “good friends” with, or related to, they speak of getting their shot in a different kind of voice than those who speak loudly in public against it. We are grateful for it. They will never take it.

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  62. Jax says:

    @Mimai: I was quite shocked when I watched her do it. Then my brain exploded and I remembered her doing it as a heifer in 2017, but I thought it was an oddity, since she raised a good calf in 2018.

    I took her baby from her tonight. She’s starving him. 😐

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  63. Mimai says:

    @Jax:
    One approach is to find out what they do care about. Unless they are monsters (in which case, you may just want to avoid them altogether), most people do indeed care about their people. They may not care in the same way that you do. And it may not always be readily apparent to you. But most people care.

    Now their actions may not always align with this expressed caring, but who among us is consistent on such things? Surely you care about your cows. And I suspect that your actions don’t always convey as much to onlookers.

    To be sure, I am not saying that you are as bad as “them” nor am I trying to equate the two. Rather, I am saying that people are messy and frustrating and flawed. And most people are reachable through certain channels. And when it comes to something as serious as COVID, we ought try (and keep trying) to reach people on the channels that their internal CB radio is most likely to pick up.

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  64. Jax says:

    @Mimai: When we’ve exhausted those options amongst those we care about most, like my family (mostly vaccinated), friends (50-50), and neighbors (freedumbs), then what?

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  65. Mimai says:

    @Jax:
    First, tip of the hat to you. I believe you when you say that you’ve been trying in earnest. Respect.

    Second, and I realize it’s easy to say and not so easy to live, but in this case I say “keep trying.” If you are able. It’s like dealing with people who have an addiction…. except the externalities are more potent. But again, I emphasize the importance of engaging people in their currency, via their channels (at least the ones that are palatable to you).

    Last comment for the night. Be well.

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  66. Scott O says:

    @Mimai:
    ‘is it not worth it?”
    Yes. Well, only if it’s more effective than the head beating thing. I admire your optimism. How? Tell me a productive approach.

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  67. Jax says:

    @Mimai: They care about their kids going back to school. So kids need to be vaccinated. As should their caregiver’s. It’s a cesspool in the school districts, we should all just admit that, the only reason my school district is still in operation (and has been since last September) is because they’re hard-core about masks.

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  68. Jax says:

    @Mimai: Sleep well, my friend!

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  69. Gustopher says:

    This is why I’m glad we have the J&J one shot vaccine. It can be fitted into a tranquilizer gun or blow dart.

    First, I would just require a proof of vaccination to fly, enter government buildings, vote, go to restaurants or buy liquor.

    But failing that I think it’s time to bring out the darts. We might get the same person a few times, and miss some others, but what can you do?

    Start a rumor that the microchips mean you get better cell phone reception?

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  70. Mimai says:

    @Scott O:

    I admire your optimism.

    Oh man, people who know me in real life would get a kick out of this notion. Regardless, I am not optimistic about reaching the majority of these folks. As I said in a previous comment, none of this is sure-proof. But there are communication strategies that increase the odds. And when you reach one person, there’s often a snowball effect.

    How? Tell me a productive approach.

    I noted one important principle in previous comments to Jax. Communicate on the other person’s channels, pulling on levers that are meaningful to them.

    For example, there’s someone in my life who lives in the info bubble of Trumpland. This person is not dumb or evil, nor are the majority of fellow denizens in his bubble. From day 1 of COVID, he’s been questioning its validity, scope, danger, etc. “It’s no different than the seasonal flu.” I’ve gone at him, politely, with science and data because that is my currency.

    This person is not immune to science/data in general, but his motivated thinking on COVID overwhelmed this channel of communication. So I thought, what is another channel I could try.

    This person has quite the ego. Not in a “swagger, grab one’s own crotch” way, but more in a “loves to hold court, hear himself speak, drop wisdom bombs on those within earshot” kind of way. So I went with full on flattery. I powdered his ass with “you can be a leader on this in your community….people will listen to you…..etc.”

    I also pulled on the MAGA lever by invoking the polio epidemic and vaccine development/deployment of the 50s and early 60s (when all was right in the world). “This is Trump’s polio eradication….he should be celebrated for spearheading this amazing feat of science….you and your people should be out there making sure Trump gets his due on this…..and making sure that we crush this virus to MAGA!”

    To be sure, this approach didn’t work immediately. And, yes, I did have chronic nausea for several weeks during my effort. But it did work. This person got his shots and actually convinced many in his bubble to get vaccinated too.

    This person is still a Trumpian. Still COVID skeptical. Still living in an information bubble. Still sending me inane bullshit about the deep state, stolen election, etc. But I don’t care. He is vaccinated. And he is no longer a superspreader (I left out the part about his very active social life, frequent daily contact with lots of people, especially the elderly and high risk).

    I’m not in the business of changing hearts and minds. I’m in the business of changing behavior, or at least trying to.

    In closing, I’ll note that this is one approach that is supported by the evidence. It is not the only one. But hopefully it gives you a better idea of what I’ve been hammering about.

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  71. Nightcrawler says:

    @Mimai:

    There is no way of approaching this rationally, because the overwhelming majority of these people aren’t just stupid. They’re sociopaths, evil to the core and irredeemable. Trying to “reach” them is like trying to “reach” a serial killer or a pedophile and convince them to stop killing/molesting children.

    That said, WaPo ran an article a few weeks ago about how to “reach” the very, very few who aren’t sociopaths, just confused. They conducted a focus group and found out that people who fall into this category will listen to their doctors.

    Problem is, because the U.S. considers healthcare a luxury item, a lot of them don’t have doctors. Some of them haven’t been to doctors in years. They’ve been taught that healthcare is a luxury that you purchase only if you can afford it, which they can’t. They don’t get insurance through work, or they get scam “insurance” that isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on, and their states didn’t expand Medicaid.

    Ergo, there is no way of “reaching” these people, either, even though, theoretically, they could be reached. The U.S. would have needed to stop treating healthcare as a luxury item years ago, but it didn’t, and here we are. We are reaping what we sowed — or rather, what all the sociopaths sowed. I didn’t vote for any of this.

    This is among the many reasons why I hate conservatives more than I’ve ever hated anyone. To those who say, “But you can’t write off half the country,” I respond, HOLD MY POT PIPE.

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  72. Nightcrawler says:

    I’d like to clarify that I do feel badly for the people who could theoretically be reached. I just realize there’s not a damn thing I can do about it. I can’t save them. I’m focused on my survival and my household’s survival — and I know we probably don’t have much time left, either, no matter what I do. If DeathSantis or any other Republican seizes the White House in 2024, the reality of his reign will make The Walking Dead look like a children’s cartoon.

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  73. Nightcrawler says:

    @Mimai:

    For example, there’s someone in my life who lives in the info bubble of Trumpland. This person is not dumb or evil, nor are the majority of fellow denizens in his bubble

    I know this is difficult to accept, but yes, he IS evil and irredeemable, and so are the rest of those awful people.

    The person you thought you knew had a whole other side to him that he kept secret until DT and the rest of the GOP made it acceptable to come out.

    I accepted the notion of people having “secret sides” a long time ago. While doing so doesn’t change the macro situation, it has served me well post-apocalypse. I cut these people out of my life, and I don’t look back once I do. This prevents them from hurting me and my household directly. For example, they can’t infect me if I literally never see them.

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  74. Mimai says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    There is no way of approaching this rationally

    I have never suggested that one should. You rightly note that this is not about reason. These are humans we are talking about.

    They’re sociopaths, evil to the core and irredeemable. Trying to “reach” them is like trying to “reach” a serial killer or a pedophile and convince them to stop killing/molesting children.

    We disagree on this. I suspect this is not something we can discuss productively or rationally (heh). So perhaps we should leave it at that.

    Problem is, because the U.S. considers healthcare a luxury item

    Healthcare is an important topic, but I think it is ancillary to this discussion.

    This is among the many reasons why I hate conservatives more than I’ve ever hated anyone. To those who say, “But you can’t write off half the country,” I respond, HOLD MY POT PIPE.

    Hope this works for you. Seriously. If not, might I recommend Pineapple Express or Master Kush.

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  75. Mimai says:

    @Nightcrawler:

    I can’t save them. I’m focused on my survival and my household’s survival

    It’s not about saving them. If it was just about them, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But when it comes to COVID, their behavior has direct implications for your household’s survival.

    I know this is difficult to accept, but yes, he IS evil and irredeemable, and so are the rest of those awful people.

    With respect, back off there. You don’t know me or the people in my life. I like to think we can engage productively on this topic without going there. If not, then I’ll have to exit.

    I cut these people out of my life, and I don’t look back once I do.

    Fair enough. I hope this works for you.

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  76. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:

    (c) deal with such people in a productive (what you call enlightened) manner because the stakes are too high not to.

    You do realize that’s been tried, right? Again and again? Over the course of decades? And to the point where it’s become a commonplace that liberals are over-reliant on education as a cure-all?

    X: Two plus two is four.
    Y: No it’s not.
    X: Yes, see, I’ll show you on my fingers.
    Y: Nope.
    X: But why?
    Y: Because I just don’t believe it.

    It’s pretty much impossible to convince most people of anything because most people don’t care about the truth, they care about the feels. Some people are like AIs – heuristic, capable of learning and adapting. Some people are like computers – they run the programs that were loaded into them but can, in some cases, be induced to at least download the updates. Some people are just pocket calculators, incapable of moving beyond certain basic functions.

    We have this egalitarian notion that anyone can learn. That’s false. Incidentally, that’s true on the Left and the Right, though the Left is naturally more open to learning since they at least pay lip service to education.

    But, hey, give it a shot. I approve of your optimism. Maybe you’ll be the one to figure out how to convince people who have no interest in facts.

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  77. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    We seem to be talking about different things. Your entire post (at least as I read it) is about facts, reason, education, etc. I have purposefully and explicitly noted that when it comes to COVID (the topic of discussion), this is about communicating with people via their own channels of engagement…using their preferred currencies.

    Your comment focuses on your channels of engagement and your currencies – facts, reason, education, etc. I share them. So if you were trying to convince me to wear a mask or get the vaccine, you’d be most successful if you served me a up a big plate of facts, reason, education, etc. Hell, you yourself have written about your previous wretchedness, “sociopathy,” etc… and how your now-wife saved you. I may be going out on a limb here, but I suspect she reached you, in large part, by speaking to you via your channels of engagement and in your currencies. (Note, I appreciate that there likely were, um, other ways that she reached you…. you being a young man at the time. But that only strengthens my point.)

    My entire point has been that “they” are not like you/us. And if this COVID thing really is the public health nightmare that we know it to be… and if a big part of ending that nightmare involves convincing as many people as possible to wear a mask, get the vaccine, etc… then we ought use the communication principles that have been shown (by science, our preferred currency) to increase the odds of changing people’s behavior.

    So it’s striking to me that more people aren’t even trying to do that. Instead, to the extent that they engage “these people” at all, they (a) use only their own preferred currency and modes of engagement, or (b) yell at them, call them morons, etc. And then sit back in smug self-satisfaction and scorn for these idiots. I say this because I have (and continue) to do that very thing, even though I know better.

    Finally, I repeat, this is not about optimism.

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  78. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    And in case it wasn’t clear, I do appreciate your engagement.

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  79. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:

    we ought use the communication principles that have been shown (by science, our preferred currency) to increase the odds of changing people’s behavior.

    A great way to change people’s behavior is to lie to them. Threatening works, too. Bribing works. Lies, fear and appeals to greed, all proven by science to work. And if you think I’m wrong, I offer as proof: the history of the human race. The thing is I don’t want to lie, or threaten, or bribe.

    Look, I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t think it has real world application. I wonder how many people you’ve dealt with from outside your own educational, social milieu. Not a lot of seminars or teach-ins at the Waffle House, or the trailer park, or the county jail. Not a lot of people looking to be reached by any means, in any language. Rather more are pissed off, scared, brittle, needy, indifferent, smug. . . I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I suspect more life experience will in time change your perspective.

    And no, my wife didn’t ‘reach me,’ that’s not how relationships work, at least not in my experience. You and your mate/spouse create a new reality, together, a new paradigm, you become a new thing that did not exist before. And it doesn’t really work if there’s some moral or intellectual hierarchy within the relationship. It also would never have worked if we didn’t communicate easily in very similar idioms.

    Let me ask you a question. Of all the people you consider friends – real friends – how many would you say are significantly more or less intelligent than you? How often do you have a successful relationship of any depth with a person further than 20 IQ points away from you? I’ll bet your friends are your approximate intellectual peers. I’ll bet you’re quite similar by a number of other metrics as well.

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  80. Jen says:

    @Mimai: I’m sorry I missed this discussion.

    Communications is my field–after time in politics, I went into public affairs PR. I’ve worked on small and large scale public messaging campaigns.

    I understand what you are saying, and it’s commendable. It isn’t, however, scaleable.

    You’re talking about a highly personalized, individualistic approach. Furthermore, the impact of your approach depends heavily on the connectedness of an individual. Your efforts were spent on someone who is highly social, chatty, and connected with others. Long before it was an internet thing, in PR circles these types of individuals were called “influencers.” Identifying who these people are and then reaching them effectively with messaging so that they would share with others was a cornerstone component of many PR campaigns. After seeding the influencers, you hope that word of mouth takes over. It’s an effective strategy, but it does have limitations.

    One of the biggest limitations is if the issue is complex, it is much much much harder to dissipate to the wider audience. “Have you tried this new soda” is far different than “have you decided to inject this new vaccine into your body.”

    It’s not impossible to convert people. But it isn’t efficient either. Think of the amount of sheer effort you invested to convince one person.

    Some of us are quite simply exhausted. I have two family members who refuse to be vaccinated. They are in frequent contact with my medically vulnerable MIL, who is vaccinated. In their minds, she’s safe so they can do what they want. This isn’t anywhere in the neighborhood of accurate, but they are impervious to discussions, data, etc. that say otherwise. My husband and I are both done with trying.

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  81. Mimai says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    A great way to change people’s behavior is to lie to them. Threatening works, too. Bribing works. The thing is I don’t want to lie, or threaten, or bribe.

    Those things can work, but they are not guaranteed to. I don’t want you to do those things either. Fortunately, you don’t have to because there are other options.

    Look, I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t think it has real world application.

    This seems to be a common retort. And yet there is actual research showing that what I am talking about can work, does work, and in the real world. Truth be told, I find it ironic that the people who extol science, evidence, etc. ignore/dismiss this.

    I wonder how many people you’ve dealt with from outside your own educational, social milieu. Not a lot of seminars or teach-ins at the Waffle House, or the trailer park, or the county jail. Not a lot of people looking to be reached by any means, in any language. Rather more are pissed off, scared, brittle, needy, indifferent, smug. . .

    Oh man, you are way off base here. I don’t want to get into a competition of who has the better “blue collar” or “underclass” bona fides, but I will tell you that I have a lot of family, personal, and professional experience. Your stereotype about academia gave me a laugh. In many cases it’s true! Just not in my case. Eg, much of the research and clinical work that I do takes place at a large safety-net medical center and a large VA medical center. If you have any experience with such settings, you’ll know that “pissed off, scared, brittle, needy, indifferent, smug” is prevalent. Even more to the point, my work is high-touch, patient facing, so I have daily lived experience that is relevant to the topic of discussion.

    I don’t mean to sound condescending, but I suspect more life experience will in time change your perspective.

    It does come across as condescending. But I’m not particularly sensitive so it doesn’t bother. In fact, I rather enjoy your, er, forthrightness.

    And no, my wife didn’t ‘reach me,’ that’s not how relationships work, at least not in my experience.

    Sorry to miss the mark here. I was making assumptions based on your previous comments. Regardless, kudos to you and her.

    Let me ask you a question…

    My deepest relationships are indeed with people who share certain characteristics with me. We haven’t ever discussed our respective IQ scores – because, well, why? – but I do suspect we are within 1 – 1.5 SDs of each other. And yet we vary quite a lot on educational attainment, family composition, income, and political philosophy. We are more closely matched on temperament, ethics, and openness. This is normal for humans. I am a normal human. So are they. I don’t see how this directly relates to the topic of discussion. In terms of deep relationships with people who are very different from me, see above about my patient facing work.

    In closing, I notice that this discussion keeps drifting (being pulled away) from the original topic. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it does make me wonder why.

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  82. Mimai says:

    @Jen:
    Thanks for chiming in. A few quick comments (you deserve better but alas it’s Mon morning)…

    I understand what you are saying, and it’s commendable. It isn’t, however, scaleable.

    I never intended to suggest that this will be a widespread panacea. In hindsight, I could have been clearer about that. My entire point is that there are things that individual people can do, that these things are based on science, and they are easily available. And yet so few people actually look into them. And when I point this out, the most common response is “yes, but.”

    Note, I am not saying that people haven’t tried to reach others. Repeatedly. Rather, I’m saying that they largely haven’t done so using evidence-based principles. And that they are conspicuously resistant to do so.

    You’re talking about a highly personalized, individualistic approach. Furthermore, the impact of your approach depends heavily on the connectedness of an individual.

    Yes, exactly. I focus on this because (a) it’s my wheelhouse, and (b) because it’s what is available to most people. Most people don’t have the capacity to reach large groups of people like you did/do. But they can reach smaller groups of people. And this matters. For them, their social networks, and also for society….recall we are talking about a highly transmissible virus.

    Your efforts were spent on someone who is highly social, chatty, and connected with others.

    Yep. It was one example. I have others that involve different types of people. It is interesting to hear about your experiences and approach. Lots of synchrony across the scale continuum. And I’d love to return to the point about complexity….in particular, the distinction between complicated and complex when it comes to political/social messaging. For another day.

    It’s an effective strategy, but it does have limitations… It’s not impossible to convert people. But it isn’t efficient either. Think of the amount of sheer effort you invested to convince one person.

    First, thank you for acknowledging that this can be effective. Second, you are 100% right about the limitations. Indeed, I have emphasized throughout this discussion that there are no guarantees, that people need to think of it as increasing the odds, etc. To wit, I’ve made the comparison to addiction several times. It can effortful. And demoralizing. I’ve found that this dissipates as people get more comfortable and skillful at engaging others from the others’ perspective. I’ve repeatedly talked about modes of engagement and currencies. This does not come natural to people. Perspective taking is hard. But it gets easier. And it doesn’t have to be a long drawn-out discussion each time…indeed, the data indicate that briefer contacts (planting seeds) are more effective when trying to reach someone. This makes it much less effortful, but it still is effortful. And all the more so when it’s family (lots of historical baggage).

    Some of us are quite simply exhausted…My husband and I are both done with trying.

    I hear you. And feel you. You have to take care of your physical, mental, existential health first. And if/when you (not you specifically) are able to engage again, there are ways of doing so that are more effective than others. Perhaps that is the most distilled version of my point.

    ps, that was a much longer response than intended….sorry, not sorry.

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