Maxim four from Richard Zeckhauser is: “When trying to understand a complex real-world situation, think of an everyday analogue”.
Alex Tabarrok has been using this strategy to communicate about vaccines.
“To me the vaccines are like a superpower. Superman is immune to bullets and I tell people: ‘Wouldn’t you like to be immune to bullets? The virus has killed many more people this year than bullets have, and the vaccine makes you immune to the virus, it’s better than being immune to bullets!'” – Alex Tabarrok, July 2021
In Dan Levy’s book about Richard Zeckhauser he includes a section from Gary Orren who used the everyday analogy strategy to describe the AmeriCorps service program. AmeriCorps, Orren told legislators, is like a Swiss Army knife, it does many things well though it’s never the perfect tool. A few weeks after addressing the governmental staff Orren returned to their offices. “Oh yeah, I remember you. Swiss Army knife.”
This strategy helped, Orren explained, because it focused his thinking and the audience’s understanding. A lot of times our thinking is FAST and analogies shift complex concepts into simpler situations.
Simplification isn’t the end though. Extremes, like questioning the Ohio vaccine lotto, are not the final answers but a first foothold. If we can understand an issue’s basic components first, it can be easier to build up to the rubber-meets-the-road challenges of IRL.
My year of AmeriCorps was health based, and I remember many vision screenings .
2 thoughts on “Being better than Superman”
[…] behavior. We can frame self talk by having multiple ‘jobs’. We can frame vaccines as better than being bulletproof. We can frame decisions by asking, would I want this even if it were free? Each prompt changes the […]
[…] Good marketing changes the perceived value without changing the thing. Good marketing is ‘being better than Superman‘. To Tufekci, we’ve not figured this out – […]
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