health

Does scaring people work when it comes to health messaging?

33 Comments
By James Dillard

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Seems governments lied and stalled so much in the last 3 years,

combined with the terrorizing and politicization of issues on social media,

a large number of people now remain skeptical and distrustful of science and medicine.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

And social media contained a great deal of misinformation.

Social media is not the only one that have to assume responsibility in the disinformation problem, normal media outlets can be as guilty.

What is the point of publishing a well researched and proved article with hte opinion of experts when the comment section becomes full of people repeating all the disinformation that is being listed here? You can look at articles even here, where some people comments consist exclusively of "scientists lie", "COVID is not dangerous" and "Vaccines and masks don't work and are dangerous for your health". Those people can freely repeat this disinformation without any consequence in the comments, completely spoiling any actual information presented first.

Until supposedly serious media companies stop giving this false balance (giving a chance for people to lie in response to actual veridic information) the problem of people being mislead into bad decisions is going to continue.

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

And social media contained a great deal of misinformation.

Not so different from the MSM, in terms of the amount of misinformation. For example: "Health experts maintain – based on a vast amount of data and scientific evidence – that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective."

Strikingly, just 12 people were responsible for two-thirds of the misinformation about vaccines on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician with 3.6 million followers, notoriously and erroneously stated: “The same number of people died in 2020 that, on average, have died in previous years. This simply wouldn’t be the case if we had a lethal pandemic.” This blanket denial of the virus’s true impact allowed a great many people to conclude that the pandemic wasn’t a problem for them or for anyone else.

Who cares what some people might conclude. Was Mercola's statement true at the time that he made it? And who are the remaining 11 people? Is the above the worse "misinformation" they could find?

4 ( +10 / -6 )

This is used in health promotion, pointing out the bad effects of something, but to make it work better they give people the information and the means to make a better choice to help themselves HIV campaigns are a good example, in protecting themselves and others by using barrier contraception.Along with smoking advertising bans, packaging changes but also giving people choices that they can control by offering help to stop smoking.

car seat belts are another great example of using negatives and positives campaigns to change behavior. Pitty we don’t see them in Japan. How many die because they didn’t wear a seatbelt.

Vaccines are in a situation where as a healthy , highly developed country we don’t see people due from polio, measles, and the heroes virus( which leads to cancer) that died in their millions years ago. So your average anti vaxer, can rely on everyone else doing the right thing, and the passively receive herd immunity from the rest who do the right thing. Personally, if you don t take up the vaccine, and get I’ll you should pay all the health costs incurred. This is also the same with antibiotics. Millions die because people don’t use antibiotics properly and MRSA is increasing. We never saw people die from a simple infected cut because of this tech, Now we are. But I wonder why the anti vaxers , still want the docs and nurses and all the medicines to make them better?

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

But beliefs about the vaccines’ effectiveness have been weakened by claims that the vaccine is too new and unproven or that its production was rushed.

Claims?!!! They were too new and unproven (unknown longterm effects) and their production was rushed (they called it Operation Warp Speed for a reason!). And we should add to the list the deaths and other adverse effects according to the CDC's VAERS are off the charts; and the many reports deaths and adverse effects that make it to the public despite very aggressive efforts to censor negative information; and the fact that heavily vaccinated places tend to have more Covid19 cases; and....

The health officials and MSM have very consistently scared people towards vaccines and expensive new medicines and away from cheap, safe, effective repurposed drugs and supplements. It has become painfully clear that they have become captured by big pharma. What worries me is that people will be hesitant when/if a true emergency arises in the future and important recommendations will be ignored.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

I hate such with a passion.

The ones who do it here too.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Does scaring work? When people are easily brainwashed, I'd say yes. Just look at the panic about Ukraine and Taiwan.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

What the 'experts' and media have done during the covid pandemic has been hideously unethical and such tactics were widely condemned during the H1N1 pandemic but they seem to have ignored that and escalated it even further.

From the Council of Europe (2010):

6.3. revising and updating existing guidelines on working with the private sector, or preparing such guidelines where they are lacking, in order to ensure that: 

6.3.1. a wide range of expertise and opinions are taken into account, including contrary views of individual experts and opinions of non-governmental organisations; 

6.3.2. declarations of interest of experts involved are made public without exception; 

6.3.3. collaborating external organisations are obliged to indicate their link with key opinion leaders or other experts possibly subject to conflicts of interest; 

6.3.4. all persons subject to conflicts of interest are excluded from sensitive decision-making 

processes;

[...]

A review is also necessary of the media’s role in fuelling fear and how WHO and how national authorities should handle communications in the future, in particular when applying the precautionary principle.

https://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2010/20100604_H1N1pandemic_e.pdf

They will be held accountable for what they have done

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Indeed it does. As the author says. for most of the people, most of the time. It has certainly worked on a lot of people posting here. Some of us, though, could see right through it from the early stages once we could detect the messaging goal posts frequently shift to keep the narrative as scary as possible. While fear is a perfectly natural reaction to both clear and present danger and the unknown, it's a response frequently exploited by the less-than-scrupulous to manage public behaviour for their own ends.

Millions upon millions have been frightened into taking jabs most of them they didn't need during this pandemic, pushed along not simply by medical experts, many of whom should have known better, but also behavioural psychologists in so-called government "nudge units" to frighten and manipulate people into taking these jabs through fear and manufactured peer group pressure. They took advantage of the underlying general angst about something unknown and ramped it up to full-blown hysteria, turning family members against each other, friends against friends, communities against communities as a way to perpetuate the fear to generate compliance.

But fear can wear off. The lies of the narrative are crumbling as governments's ability to coerce people into taking more and more boosters fails, protest movements grow and need to be quashed under government jackboots, vaccines of dubious safety and efficacy fail to control a virus mutating into weaker forms anyway. Despite media attempts to demonise well qualified medical professionals who oppose the narrative, the truth is getting through.

And once you're aware of it, you're much harder to fool.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Not so different from the MSM, in terms of the amount of misinformation. For example: "Health experts maintain – based on a vast amount of data and scientific evidence – that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective."

Available evidence points to this to be a true conclusion, disinformation is to pretend scientists are wrong just because a personal desire not to believe those conclusions.

Claims?!!! They were too new and unproven (unknown longterm effects) and their production was rushed (they called it Operation Warp Speed for a reason!).

This is still a false and invalid argument, the vaccines are considered tested enough to determine they are safer than not being vaccinated, something that was confirmed after millions of vaccinations determined that unvaccinated people are at a much higher risk. Pretending vaccines require to surpass a completely arbitrary and utopic perfect level of safety and efficacy is a favorite fallacy from antivaxxer groups, the vaccines do not need to prove they are absolutely perfect, they just need to prove they are much safer than not vaccinating, which is why the whole scientific consensus of the world considers them safe and effective enough to be used not only by vulnerable patients but by the general population as well.

The health officials and MSM have very consistently scared people towards vaccines and expensive new medicines and away from cheap, safe, effective repurposed drugs and supplements

The only treatments that have been discouraged (as they should) are those that failed to prove they have any use against COVID, specially those that bring risks from their own making their use worse than not using anything. Pretending this is something negative is part of the problem being talked about in the article, a supposed world wide conspiracy being imagined and promoted to mislead people into having less trust in science.

What the 'experts' and media have done during the covid pandemic has been hideously unethical and such tactics were widely condemned during the H1N1 pandemic but they seem to have ignored that and escalated it even further.

Not liking valid warnings based on objective data does not make something unethical, that would be much more to misrepresent the scientific consensus as if it was not existent, or exaggerating the situation to mislead people into thinking measures and medical interventions were not based on science when they obviously have.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Some of us, though, could see right through it from the early stages once we could detect the messaging goal posts frequently shift to keep the narrative as scary as possible. 

When "see right through" means baselessly denying all and everything you don't want to accept that is not a positive thing, just saying "COVID is not dangerous" is not going to deny the evidence that it can be even lethal to young and healthy people. Believing "vaccines are not necessary" neither do anything against the mounting evidence of the huge role they have in preventing the worst consequences of the infection. Endlessly repeating disinformation that can be easily debunked by science is not escaping from a global conspiracy that includes every single medical and scientific institution of the world trying to foold you, it only means you want to believe this is the case which is not rational.

This is exactly what the experts refer to with misinformation trying to "downplay the threat", interference that damage public health and put people on unnecessary risk, something that the media (that allows this to be repeated) is an accomplice of.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Machiavelli advocated the use of fear to control the masses in his classic "The Prince. "

Governments have long since used a variety of fear tactics and false flag events to manipulate desired outcomes.

Many people recognize these tactics for what they are and deeply resent the attempt to influence under false pretense and end up skeptical and cynical of any government action.

Then again, when faced with a fear, many automatically use their powers of denial to deal with the situation.

It all boils down to this: honesty is the best policy. Let's leave fear mongering to the totalitarian states!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

When "see right through" means baselessly denying all and everything you don't want to accept that is not a positive thing, just saying "COVID is not dangerous" is not going to deny the evidence that it can be even lethal to young and healthy people. Believing "vaccines are not necessary" neither do anything against the mounting evidence of the huge role they have in preventing the worst consequences of the infection. Endlessly repeating disinformation that can be easily debunked by science is not escaping from a global conspiracy that includes every single medical and scientific institution of the world trying to foold you, it only means you want to believe this is the case which is not rational.

This is exactly what the experts refer to with misinformation trying to "downplay the threat", interference that damage public health and put people on unnecessary risk, something that the media (that allows this to be repeated) is an accomplice of.

Nah, seeing right through means being able to gather up data, evidence and observations and critically analyse them to figure out what is truth and what isn't.

It all boils down to this: honesty is the best policy.

Yes. But the mainstream narrative about this pandemic has been anything but open and honest.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

Persons require accurate details in order to decide what’s best for their own circumstances …

unless said details don’t fit the overall narrative and agenda of those funneling the information. Then, it’s conveniently omitted.

The populace are becoming tired of the bullying and these drives to segregate them based on individual ideologies. Thus, the authoritarians who perceive themselves superior to the common folk are always more enraged when confronted with erroneous prior claims and faulty choices and will do most anything to avoid the truth. Then comes a lot of back-pedaling, attempts to coverup their prior claims, conflation of issues and/or putting the blame on the consumers of the information they provided.

Not to worry. Truth will always prevail.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Nah, seeing right through means being able to gather up data, evidence and observations and critically analyse them to figure out what is truth and what isn't.

Again, since you present absolutely no data to prove the scientific consensus is wrong, this means this is not seeing anything but what you want to believe even if it can be proved false.

Yes. But the mainstream narrative about this pandemic has been anything but open and honest.

Since you advocate for the promotion of repeatedly debunked conspiracy theories this rings empty, nothing is absolutely correct, but aiming for honesty requires you to abandon arguments that have been proved false first.

The populace are becoming tired of the bullying and these drives to segregate them based on individual ideologies. 

People can have any ideology as long as it does not damage the rights of others, in the same way a smoker can freely believe tobacco is good for his lungs, but only if he abstain from smoking in public places, or an alcoholic that can believe he drives better while drunk, as long as he does not practice his beliefs.

Science is the best method we have found to understand reality and what actually happens instead of what personal bias can make you believe. If what you believe can be emphatically proved as mistaken with it that means it is much more likely to be the case, even if you don't want to believe it so.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Pot, meet kettle. Your second-rate sophistry has been on clear display throughout this entire tawdry affair.

But again you provide zero evidence of this being the case, your only argument is that you want to believe it so, based on easily debunked disinformation (which you make no effort at all to defend). This would indicate it is not science the one that has been wrong, instead this would apply to the person trying to mislead others the whole scientific and medical consensus is wrong.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Doesn't appear to have worked very well in the past and in the present panic.

Surely presenting rational information and allowing debate is a better way of convincing people how to behave.

"Debunked" is such a lame word......

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Unfortunately fear works very well also in convincing people not to get vaccinated, too well in fact.

Millions of people have already died due to covid, many millions more suffer from long term sympltoms yet many people are more afraid of the vaccines which protect from the disease than the disease itself.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Scaring people only works if the people you are targeting are getting scared easily. Guess in my case their success rate would be close to nil.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Scaring people only works if the people you are targeting are getting scared easily. Guess in my case their success rate would be close to nil.

Which is it?

You weren't scared into taking the vaccine or you weren't scared into not taking it?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

He may just as well say - to hell with freedom of speech.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The populace are becoming tired of the bullying and these drives to segregate them based on individual ideologies.

And yet the basic fact remains; getting a covid vaccine vastly improves your chances of being in better health than without it. The rest is just noise.

Life is a game of odds.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You can explain something over and over to someone, but you can’t understand it for them.

Once something becomes politicized, many people becoming entrenched. The Internet is filled with content by people looking for clicks and views and the videos on YouTube that are intentionally false (e.g. aliens, cats doing math, microchips by Bill Gates, etc.) get more views than boring facts.

The most popular newspapers are tabloids who simply make things up because a giant swath of people are gullible and naive.

The truth is not very profitable. Myths sell.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Scaring people works for some, but has unintended consequences as some governments are finding out. It is also time-limited. Half the population may have hated the government for locking them up in their homes and destroying their jobs. The other half, still terrified, are now hating the government for ending restrictions. As the UK learned with Brexit, if you divide your citizens, they will cherry-pick their gripes and all end up hating you.

The state persecution of people who - for various reasons - do not wish to be vaccinated, harked back to a past age. In Europe, to the 1940s, when people were similarly condemned as 'enemies of the state'. Setting the majority of your citizens against a minority creates divisions that take a very long time to heal.

Forced vaccination is incompatible with the Hippocratic oath. That remains true if the enforcement comes via the threat of punishment - fines or excessive exclusion. Government need to take off the jackboots and walk back from that.

There is some discussion in 'Private Eye' this week about the ethical issues around scaring people. Particularly when those funding the fearganda are partying hard, behind closed doors.

Whenever governments attempt to manipulate the public - online 'harms' for example - it is usually because they have a hidden, oppressive agenda. Without trust, such behaviour does not work. State manipulation then erodes any residual trust further. A lifetime of watching politicians behaving badly, promising the Earth and failing to deliver, has not promoted trust. The solution - unpalatable as it may be to our glorious leaders - is for politicians to be less corrupt, to lie less and to be more transparent. I can't see that happening.

The use of 'government scientists' to artificially improve the trustworthiness of government, may have had the opposite effect, reducing trust in science, now seen as a tool of government. We separate the judiciary and the legislature, as we do the Church and State for good reasons. We should also separate politics and science.

As for mortality rates...

The UK mortality rate has been artificially increased throughout the pandemic by including anyone who had tested positive within a month before their death, regardless of whether Covid played any part in their demise. Without this explanation (which UK news media tends to include), the lazy syndication of UK mortality around the world by mainstream news agencies has been 'fake news'.

And Japan's mortality rate really did go down in the pandemic, although it has not been widely reported in the Japanese media. To quote from the International Journal of Epidemiology, 'All-cause mortality during the COVID-19 outbreak in Japan in 2020 was decreased compared with a historical baseline.' [https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/51/1/75/6413683]

It's a funny old pandemic that sees your death rate drop.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

pollicization caused misnformation.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

virusrexFeb. 21  01:06 pm JST

Pot, meet kettle. Your second-rate sophistry has been on clear display throughout this entire tawdry affair.

But again you provide zero evidence of this being the case, your only argument is that you want to believe it so, based on easily debunked disinformation (which you make no effort at all to defend). This would indicate it is not science the one that has been wrong, instead this would apply to the person trying to mislead others the whole scientific and medical consensus is wrong

where’s your data…….???

classic example of social media manipultation!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Presenting ALL the data and allowing people to make informed decisions is the best.

To say the vaccines are safe is incorrect just as much as saying the Covid kills all!

the currently released Data in Australia shows that over 98% of all related deaths has 2 or more comorbidities!

At the same time the vaccines have caused death and other illnesses like myocarditis in people who received them across the spectrum. People who most likely wouldn’t have died from Covid!

On top of which the dying from or with Covid is also an issue! Which is it?

As I have always said the experimental vaccines which for most countries are still approved for emergency use should only ever have been used for those most at risk not the kiddies or healthy adults. The data is showing there was never a need to carpet vaccinate the whole population down to children in the womb and a targeted approach would have yielded similar results without the threat of long term health issues from the vaccines for people who had no threat from Covid!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

To say the vaccines are safe is incorrect just as much as saying the Covid kills all!

Again, repeating disinformation do not make it less false, it only makes evident you have no argument to actually defend it.

The scientific and medical consensus have concluded vaccines are safe and reduce the risk for anybody for which they are recommended, so a nameless person on the internet saying they are all wrong because they are in a world conspiracy is simply not believable.

Vaccines produce a much milder and less frequent form of myocarditis comparaed with viral infections, and specially to SARS-CoV-2 infections, that means that vaccinated people have LESS risk of myocarditis than unvaccinated people.

where’s your data…….???

This is the whole point, there is no data to support your claims, but you choose to repeat them even when it is clear no scientific or medical institution in the whole world supports them. When someone argues that you have no data to prove something accepting there is none to present means you concede your opponent is right.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It's a funny old pandemic that sees your death rate drop.

No, not really, because the life-changing measures were predicted to have this effect at least in Japan, where social distancing is present by default and almost universal obedience of rules were expected to reduce a lot of deaths not directly related to the pandemic.

If the measures were not so economically and socially disruptive you could make a point of continuing them indefinetely so you would prevent a lot of traffic accidents, respiratory infections, etc. etc. but obviously this is not feasible, so the reduction can't be maintained without COVID tilting the balance and making their benefit outweigh their cost.

Also, "deaths after tested positive" as in the UK is just the simplest, fastest way to have numbers to report, so it is widely used for the periodical reports (as in daily or weekly numbers) but for actual epidemiological studies the diagnosis are used, so unrelated deaths can be discarded to make the data much more meaningful.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ian Feb. 21  04:06 pm JST

Scaring people only works if the people you are targeting are getting scared easily. Guess in my case their success rate would be close to nil.

Which is it?

You weren't scared into taking the vaccine or you weren't scared into not taking it?

I am not scared of vaccines but I chose not to get vaccinated because I see it as unnecessary to get vaccinated against a virus which mortality rate is below 0.0n%

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I am not scared of vaccines but I chose not to get vaccinated because I see it as unnecessary to get vaccinated against a virus which mortality rate is below 0.0n%

I'm sure a lot of people who thought same as that are included in the covid dead stats.

I suggest you ask what your doctor thinks.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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