With COVID-19, the early messaging attempted to circumscribe the nature of the threat. In March, the WHO announced that: “COVID-19 impacts the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions most severely.” Similar statements were made by the UK government.
A reasonable interpretation of this would be that the virus does not “affect” young people. But as new clinical data came in, this message was changed to emphasise that the virus could affect people of all ages and doesn’t discriminate.
The initial positive message for young people also created an “optimism bias”. This bias is very powerful – we know of various brain mechanisms that can ensure that a positive mood persists. One study found that people tend to have a reduced level of neural coding of more negative than anticipated information (in comparison with more positive than anticipated information) in a critical region of the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making. This means that we tend to miss the incoming bad news and, even if we don’t, we hardly process it.
To make climate change messages more effective, we need to target these cognitive biases. To prevent temporal and spatial biases, for example, we need a clear message as to why climate change is bad for individuals in their own lives in the here and now (establishing an appropriate affect heuristic).
And to prevent optimism bias, we also need to avoid presenting “both sides of the argument” in the messaging – the science tells us that there’s only one side. There also needs to be a clear argument as to why recommended, sustainable behaviours will work (establishing a different sort of confirmation bias).
We also need everyone to get the message, not just some groups – that’s an important lesson from COVID-19. There can be no (apparent) exceptions when it comes to climate change.
She is also the head organizer of an open letter signed by more than 600 doctors calling on President Trump to end lockdown. The letter described widespread state orders keeping businesses closed and children home from school as a “mass casualty incident” with “exponentially growing health consequences.”
The video was entirely disappeared from the web (except if you know where to look) within hours, and two days ago, Dr. Gold stated in a recent tweet that:
“Our website host @Squarespace has just completely and arbitrarily shut down our website, claiming a violation of their terms of service.”
WOW: Our website host @Squarespace has just completely and arbitrarily shut down our website, claiming a violation of their terms of service.
We are a group of physicians advocating for a better understanding of COVID-19 and its available treatment options.
Gold had defended her views - which reflected her real-life experience as a board-certified doctor specializing in emergency medicine, not a journalist playing one on TV! - saying in a tweet that “there are always opposing views in medicine,” but that opposition should not be grounds for censorship.
But now, Dr. Gold has lost her job after her employer found out about the viral video where she dared to discuss hydroxychloroquine.