the power of sociology 

One of the less spoken aspects of the past year is that we had massive failures in public health, a large part due to a misunderstanding of the field.

It’s much closer to sociology and communications than to virology. And this continues to trip up numerous scientists.

Twitter is full of practicing virologists acting like nerd fan-fiction. Yes you are very good at STEM, but have this huge social sciences blind spot. And it is killing people.

the power of sociology 

(Yes I’m subtooting Angie Rasmussen who is subtweeting Zeynep Tufekci in this specific example)

It’s perfectly okay to be a scientist in a STEM field and not be an expert in crisis communication and public health decisions. It’s a different set of skills.

Crisis comms is trying to get info across a low bandwidth channel under hostile conditions (noise and counter messaging), where the receiver makes their own decision about your message.

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the power of sociology 

Like the J&J suspension case.

A lot of people tried to defend that decision on scientific grounds but ultimately it doesn’t matter. Society is not made of people reading systematic reviews in The Lancet. They sent a signal flare through that low bandwidth channel and this dented US vaccination willingness significantly.

It didn’t matter that J&J was later unsuspended. Suspension was telling people: “this is not safe” and you can’t uncommunicate that over a few weeks.

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