How the Public-Health Messaging Backfired

February 27, 2021 ☼ sciencemarketingvaccinepandemic

Source: The Atlantic - Link

The problem is not that the good news isn’t being reported, or that we should throw caution to the wind just yet. It’s that neither the reporting nor the public-health messaging has reflected the truly amazing reality of these vaccines. There is nothing wrong with realism and caution, but effective communication requires a sense of proportion—distinguishing between due alarm and alarmism; warranted, measured caution and doombait; worst-case scenarios and claims of impending catastrophe. We need to be able to celebrate profoundly positive news while noting the work that still lies ahead. However, instead of balanced optimism since the launch of the vaccines, the public has been offered a lot of misguided fretting over new virus variants, subjected to misleading debates about the inferiority of certain vaccines, and presented with long lists of things vaccinated people still cannot do, while media outlets wonder whether the pandemic will ever end.

Scientists are realists. They hate to give a story without nuance. This nuance comes across as a string of caveats. Good science, horrible marketing. By contrast, the nay-sayers lack any nuance at all and are absolutely certain with what they say, despite it being a lie.