When we hear a call for focused realism about COVID-19, we think people should be better informed about the survival rate from the coronavirus and the near-absence of COVID transmission in schools. But that’s not what Elisabeth Rosenthal wants; in an op-ed for the New York Times, she recalls the graphic scare campaigns around smoking that gave her nightmares and thinks the messaging around COVID-19 should be similar, not some “We’re in this together” nonsense. She’s not talking fear-mongering, though; she just wants nightmare-inducing imagery over cute slogans.
One of the most disgraceful Covid articles ever written appears in The NY Times today: “It’s Time to Scare People About Covid”
“Another message could feature a patient lying in an I.C.U. bed, immobile, tubes in the groin..”https://t.co/zpi8rhcjXC
— Eli Klein (@TheEliKlein) December 7, 2020
As cases were mounting in September, the Michigan government produced videos with the exhortation, “Spread Hope, Not Covid,” urging Michiganders to put on a mask “for your community and country.”
Forget that. Mister Rogers-type nice isn’t working in many parts of the country. It’s time to make people scared and uncomfortable. It’s time for some sharp, focused terrifying realism.
I’m not talking fear-mongering, but showing in a straightforward and graphic way what can happen with the virus.
Another message could feature a patient lying in an I.C.U. bed, immobile, tubes in the groin, with a mask delivering 100 percent oxygen over the mouth and nose — eyes wide with fear, watching the saturation numbers rise and dip on the monitor over the bed.
Um, didn’t Gov. Andrew Cuomo just win an International Emmy for his coronavirus messaging, which included that silly #NewYorkStrong poster that even Chris Hayes 100 percent thought was a joke?
A despicable article by @RosenthalHealth.
Her thesis is that reasoning w/ people is not working (ie some people have different values from her 😱). So we must circumvent their rational faculties & scare them.
Her anti-science demagoguery would’ve made Saddam blush. https://t.co/Bok0yNRSdu
— Newman Nahas (@NahasNewman) December 7, 2020
The recommendations in this piece are really counter productive. Behavioral scientists can weigh in more expertly, but there’s lots of evidence from past infectious disease emergencies that fear (and its byproduct, stigma) hinder learning and action. https://t.co/SSIoow6Vlg
— Jennifer Nuzzo, DrPH (@JenniferNuzzo) December 7, 2020
Well the good people of the well-off Boston suburbs have been living in a state of terror for 9 months now. Not sure what they would do differently if more scared….. triple mask? Add goggles? Close schools for another year?
— Tree (@Tree17891) December 7, 2020
Good point. That’s the real rejoinder to her piece.
— Newman Nahas (@NahasNewman) December 7, 2020
So dangerous to shred public health credibility for an issue with such a low IFR. But that is what has happened and is continuing to happen. Newsom/Adler was breaking point for a ton of people.
— Matthew Marchant (@MatthewMarchant) December 7, 2020
This article is just a description of what NYT has actually been doing for the past eight months already.
Irony is dead.
— LaPeste (@PhaatBoyz) December 7, 2020
They've done a bang-up job so far scaring children. Children eat this shit up. I hope they are not damaged long-term.
— Working and Waiting (@AmThruster) December 7, 2020
Other than the obvious, isn’t this counter productive in that whoever isn’t already scared is probably never going to be?
Some people are able to use reason to avoid fear.
Others are just naturally unafraid despite danger.
Would a more robust fear tactic change that?
— Kent S. Kirton(Citizen Divoc 91) (@s_kirton) December 7, 2020
As a healthcare professional I can say that we tend to avoid taking pictures and exposing our patients just to frighten people. Damn moral obligation of protecting our patients gets in the way I guess 🤷🏼♀️
— 86% problematic (@dmpags1) December 7, 2020
Obviously those of us who have done our research & chosen not to be afraid won’t be swayed by any fear tactics she has in mind!
— patrick henry (@goodbyegirl1012) December 7, 2020
Oh, we haven't scared people enough? Scared them from sending their kids to school, from going to the hospital when they need medical attention? Caused a nationwide mental health crisis of anxiety, depression, suicide, substance abuse? Disgusting.
— Kelley K * covid-georgia.com (@KelleyKga) December 7, 2020
I don't understand why the media refuses to acknowledge that the scaremongering content is actually having the opposite effect on the population they are trying to reach. Their "base" is already scared enough.
— NYC Mom in favor of Science – #OpenSchools (@angrybklynmom) December 7, 2020
“Look, everyone, here’s an angle we haven’t pursued in the media at all yet. What if we tried to scare people about covid? I know, I know, no ones ever done it yet, totally new plan”
— Dennis Bakke (@dwbakke) December 7, 2020
Scare tactics are well-known in the psychology and counseling community to have no positive outcomes.
— Derek (@derekrayment) December 7, 2020
Have any of these people taken an ACTUAL public health policy class? Note: terrifying people, shaming and blaming isn’t included
— Forty Young (@FortyYoung) December 7, 2020
Absolutely ridiculous article. Trying to scare people with this garbage is even more evidence that the media has done so much more damage than the virus.
— KD (@Illegalshift66) December 7, 2020
Absolutely sickening. My mental health has been in the toilet for nearly a year and millions and millions are far worse off than I am. Anxiety, depression, substance abuse, loss of livelihood, destitution, homelessness, loss of healthcare and so many others thanks to these ppl
— EndemicEquilibrium (@ElectraAscendin) December 7, 2020
Don’t see how this would be a change in strategy
— G.H. Burns, CFA (@GHBurnsCFA) December 7, 2020
I have seen @EthicalSkeptic define this as a human rights crime by terrorizing the population. Don't they realize at best you create a Music Man scenario, at worst you create horrible tragedies because a scared population can do awful things to other people and justify it.
— Gregory Etter (@imperialmog) December 7, 2020
A ‘pandemic’ so deadly you have to keep convincing people 8 months after there’s a big scary virus out there. This is embarrassing.
— Shane (@_okayshane) December 7, 2020
It’s bad enough we already have unhinged Karens driving around screaming “Kill yourself” at lockdown protesters.
Now, THAT’S unhinged! Oregon teacher loses her ever-loving mind on anti-lockdown protesters annnd OMG-LOL (watch) https://t.co/rXAH6b6uMD
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) December 7, 2020