ZDoggMD on telling COVID stories to motivate vaccination

Tagged: COVID / PharmaAndBiotech / Statistics

I’m a data-driven guy who detests persuasian by emotional anecdotes. But most people are, to my dismay, different in that regard. ZDoggMD does a good job today of persuading them.

Data analysis vs emotional anecdotes

I’m a really data-driven guy, who is largely persuaded by logical and mathematical arguments. (Ok, not totally, but largely.) I detest media reporters who are obsessed with emotional anecdotes and manipulative storytelling rather than giving me enough information to know if something is newsworthy.

Still… I have to admit that though I am what I am, the world nonetheless is what it is, and neither of us is inclined to change to suit the other. If you want to persuade most people, you have to have an anecdote and tell it in the properly emotionally manipulative manner. This seems to me a bit of the Dark Arts; nonetheless, with care, it can be done in the service of good.

ZDoggMD shows how it is done

That brings us to today’s video by ZDoggMD [1], whom we’ve mentioned before on this crummy little blog that nobody reads.

Today he tells the story of one of his viewers who was a bit vaccine hesitant, ended up getting COVID with post-infection mental debilitation, infecting his wife, infecting some of his kids, and most heartbreakingly, his elderly and fragile parents. His father will likely die.

The viewer, of course, feels an incredible burden of guilt. In expiation, he has personally persuaded 3 people to get vaccinated, which is a good first step of repentance in my book.

I sort of liked Zubin’s conclusion:

  • First, deep sympathy. It’s important to listen to, and respect people’s pain.
  • Second, asking him to forgive himself and explaining why:

    … we all do the best we can with the information we have. Please don’t beat yourself up. Seriously, forgive yourself. We do the best we can, in the face of conflicting information, misinformation, disinformation, poor communication from authorities that are supposed to be looking out for us, who somehow can’t understand that shaming people into submission on vaccines is not gonna work.

    Now, the truth is, <name> should forgive himself because it could have been that they were all vaccinated weeks or months in advance and still got infected. It could have been that his parents were in the small group of individuals that still got very sick, despite vaccine. It could be that he and his family still got infected with Delta, even though they were vaccinated. But the truth is, the statistics say that all those things were much, much less likely had they gotten vaccinated.

    And that’s what I want to stick with you, that if we’re talking about risk, if we’re talking about our loved ones, if we’re talking about not just ourselves, but those around us: getting vaccinated is still the lowest risk for the highest reward because natural COVID infection for many people is just not safe.

    And so we’re doing the best we can.

    And <name>, this is me, I’m looking right at you. Really, you did the best you could.

(Boldface emphasis added, because it introduces statistics as a way of seeing past the anecdote to the general case.)

I’m significantly less tolerant of vaccine resistance than he is, and more prone to things like mandates. Maybe Zubin’s just a nicer man than me. He’s using that to persuade people to Do The Right Thing in ways that I cannot.

Good for him.


Notes & References

1: Z Damania, “He Was On The Fence About The Vaccine, Then THIS Happened”, YouTube, 2021-Aug-27.

Look, there’s such a thing as being too obsessed with footnotes and documentation. (And keep in mind who’s telling you that!) Just watch the video. I embedded it up there for you, ok?

Written Sun 2021-Aug-29

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