Fear ain’t much of a strategy boy

The primary strategy employed by most public health officials and doctors to try and persuade people to vaccinate is FEAR. In short, they want people to fear disease infinitely more than they fear vaccines. It is not about educating people or encouraging them to educate themselves. It is not about allowing people to ask questions and engaging them in an open, honest, and robust conversion about the pros and cons of vaccination. It is almost entirely and exclusively about… FEAR. Lots of it.

The standard line by most public health officials and doctors goes something like this… “If you don’t vaccinate, then very bad things will surely happen to you and your children. Trust us, we know, because we’re the experts, and you’re not. Trust us, we will protect you, we will save you. So just roll up your sleeve and let us inject you. Don’t worry, everything’ll be fine. Nothing to FEAR, unless of course you don’t listen to us… in which case, you have everything to FEAR.

The media promotes this strategy as well. Note the following headline of an article in Forbes magazine (… yeah, the business and financial investment one) by Tara Haelle last year: “How Do You Change An Anti-Vaccine Parent’s Mind? Scare The Crap Out Of Them”

But is promoting fear really a strategy for success in the long-run? Notably with intelligent, well-educated, thoughtful, independent and curious people? Hmm, probably not.

“Motivation by fear states an undesirable result will be received if expectations are not met. Fear and guilt are argued to be the most effective forms of persuasion. … [But] manipulating someone or forcing them to do something against their will, will make them dis-satisfactory in the end. … Fear is one of the most destructible forces on this world.” — Alexander Peter

Remember the great line from the movie The Outlaw Josey Wales… “Dying ain’t much of a living boy”. Well, neither is fear.


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