Public health messaging in the pandemic has been a fiasco of inconsistent, contradictory and incoherent messaging.
A 2006 paper by four epidemiologists explained that most public health mitigation steps do not actually work. First, the measures that might work – like lockdowns – are understood to be infeasible over wide regions or countries and not sustainable. Many other steps that seem intuitive do not work well or do not work at all, or have no evidence to support that they work.
Combine ineffective public health mitigations with lousy public communications and you end up with a fiasco.
Western state Governors are increasingly blaming climate change for western wild fires, as if the wild fires are a single variable. If only we could control the climate, we would no longer have wild land fires. Realistically, there is no magic control knob on climate that we can control and which will reduce fire danger for decades to come.
There are concrete steps that can be taken immediately to reduce the threats of future wild fires – but politicians would rather blame climate change – which they do not control – because to acknowledge there are factors which they can control is to acknowledge that their leadership has failed.
A common mistake people make is to focus on a single variable in a multiple variable problem. In this case, the focus is on one variable that cannot be controlled in the near term, while ignoring other variables that can be controlled.
Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management has a reputation for making things up. Yesterday, they claimed that 500,000 or 10% of Oregon’s population had evacuated due to wildfires. This claim received national and international media coverage. The Oregonian noted no where near that many people live in the evacuation zones. This afternoon, they have acknowledged its closer to 40,000, not 500,000. See how Internet memes get generated by fake data from official government sources?
An actual assault by right wing political supporters on the campaign manager of a Democratic Party rival was misreported as an assault on a senior citizen, probably to increase the emotional appeal of the message.
Not surprisingly, a lot of misinformation – not just health information – is spread via social media. Social media is a frictionless platform the sharing and spread of propaganda messaging, much of which is not true. How to fix it? Doubt we can fix the “supply” side – we need to address the consumers – and get them to be skeptical of information received on social media.
Recent news reports emphasize the spike or surge in new Covid-19 cases, and often continue to focus on that narrative for days to weeks after the trend has reversed. According to the CDC, the trend in new cases recently plateaued in the U.S. and may now be in decline. But don’t expect to see that widely reported 🙂
Stories about people attending Covid parties and then getting sick are poorly sourced and in general, probably never happened.
In the midst of an ineptly managed pandemic and ineptly managed civil unrest and economic fiasco people try to make sense of it by reading everything they can. Scrolling through post and news story after news story is called “doomscrolling” and it destroys your mental health. Sadly, much of the bull shit is not from random social media posts but from actual experts who spew nonsense.
Just about all of the numbers in this USA Today “news report” are wrong, and easily cross checked for the correct numbers. This. Is. Journalism. Where facts are strictly optional.
Washington Post publishes a pre-written news report about the BLS unemployment report – and the pre-written report was completely wrong. The WaPo later replaced the fictional reporting with an actual report.