Tens of millions of Americans—including 60 percent of young Republicans—say they'll refuse the COVID vaccine.

I spoke to 11 of them. I asked them where their views came from and what might change their minds.

Here's what they told me:

Four themes emerged from our conversations:

1. The "no-vaxxers" never thought the pandemic was a serious threat to them, and they resent the idea that they need a pharmaceutical intervention to get back to a normal life that they never wanted to stop living.
2. Many people I spoke to said they had already tested positive for COVID and felt confident in their natural immunity.

(Since this group took fewer precautions last year, it would make sense that a higher-than-avg share of them would have antibodies.)
3. As they don't perceive a high risk from the pandemic, they regularly emphasize the downsides of the vaccines. They'll say the shots were rushed by corporate firms they don't trust, and that they're "authorized for an emergency" that is overblown.
4. They've come to really, really hate the Democratic-liberal-public-health nexus and have decided that they're better off doing the opposite of whatever that group says.
In a nutshell, I'd say this is the "deep story" of American vaccine refusal:

"I trust my own cells over a Big Pharma experiment. I trust my mind over liberal elites."

That position correlates with politics (see graph); but it's not explicitly a political position.
So, how do we persuade the no-vaxxers? Here are three ideas.

1. Make it suck more to not be vaccinated.

Some states (eg, MI) are linking re-openings to vaccine thresholds. This sort of soft bribery might work, but it's highly flammable cultural war kindling.
2. What if: DoorDash for vaccines?

It's pretty easy and great to get vaccinated. But we could make it even easier and greater. Some vax hesitancy might dissipate if state health depts offered rewards, or a free-delivery vaccine service to ppl's homes.
3. Consider the lives of strangers.

The most effective line in my conversations with no-vaxxers was something like: "Your immune system might be good enough for you; but in a world of variants, the vaccines are better at protecting others."
Shaming the no-vaxxers won't change anybody's mind. Our focus should instead be on making vaccinations even easier and on broadening the no-vaxxers' circles of care: "Your cells might be good enough for you; the shots are better for others."


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More from @DKThomp

27 Apr
There have been a couple of great podcasts/articles about why NFL teams are still so bad at picking QBs. Coupla thoughts.

1. QB is one of the most contingent jobs in sports. He can't pass to himself, or block for himself. Success is determined by forces outside his control.
2. The reverse order draft (typically) guarantees the best college QBs go to the worst teams—a situation unlike any non-sports career—which means college talent is often "rewarded" with an awful professional home.
3. Greatness is (often) non-linear. Manning was a turnover machine who quickly learned historic efficiency. Brees was inconsistent before NOLA. Brady was a super-clutch player who got better and better thru his 20s until became a statistical monster in his 30s.
Read 4 tweets
19 Apr
A very hard question that we should probably try to answer at some point: What state had the best COVID response above expected value?

Here's the chart of excess deaths (Y) vs job losses (X) by state. Some thoughts...
And here is the color-coded map of deaths per capita by state (darker red means more deaths per population)
Coupla observations:

1. State policies fed into regional effects: Many deep south states and northeast states really got rocked.

2. But northern New England and the west/northwest did much better, as regions.
Read 5 tweets
19 Apr
I wrote about the outdoor mask mandates.


Masks are good; and inside, among non-vaccinated ppl, they're great.

But governments need to give Americans an off-ramp to the post-pandemic world. Ending outdoor mask mandates would be a good place to start.
To be clear: I don't support immediately lifting mandates in places with outbreaks, like Michigan.

But dozens of states that currently have outdoor mask mandates should mark an imminent threshold—in, say, local hospitalization rate—below which the mandates will be lifted.
The best case for KEEPING the mask mandates are

1. Masks are easy, and they work
2. Requiring masks outside makes them handy when people go inside
3. Masks build a sense of social solidarity.

I think I can imagine better counter-arguments for all three.
Read 9 tweets
15 Apr
Some math and metaphors.

This CDC report finds that documented post-vaccine infections are a 1-in-11,000 event.

What's that like?

Well, the odds that an average 20something driving 17 miles gets into a car accident is ... 1-in-11,000.
To be fair, CDC is only reporting documented breakthroughs. There are probably more asymptomatics that aren't reported. Let's say actual breakthrough rate is 250x higher.

Well, those are the odds that a 20something driving 17 miles *every weekday* gets into an accident this year
You can check my math here


I DM'd with a university mathematician before tweeting to make sure the math was rightish. He points out rightly that drives and immune systems are pretty heterogenous, so this is apples/oranges. But the point stands.
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr
In a Media Insight Project survey of the moral values of news audiences, the value drawing the least support was "the idea that a good way to make society better is to spotlight its problems—only about 3 in 10 agree."


Well, that's certainly interesting.
A few thoughts, in tension:

1. From my perspective, audiences love reading about society's problems. They consume the hell out of "problem spotlighting" from gender/race inequality to threats of anti-democratic right (MSNBC) to purported migrant dangers (FNC)
2. I, personally, have no idea What Americans Want, and it's very possible that the vast majority of ppl who I don't know and will never meet actually don't want so much problem-spotlighting, and they're being over-served a lot of Sad World Journalism.
Read 5 tweets
13 Apr
I wrote about how we're entering the full zombie phase of "hygiene theater"

Evidence for surface transmission of COVID-19 is truly pathetic. But unlike the actual coronavirus, performative cleaning rituals are very much alive on surfaces across America.
The surface-transmission theory of COVID-19 is basically dead. But hygiene theater lives:

- on subways
- in schools
- in stores
- in offices
- and ... sigh ... at The Atlantic
I want to directly address this point because I think it represents a plausible-sounding but probably wrong objection to my hygiene theater critiques.

The objection is basically: Hey but isn't hygiene theater actually, you know, pretty hygienic?
Read 6 tweets

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