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Cathy O'Neil

The Vaccine-Hesitant Could Use Some Friendly Shame

Talking down won’t work, but appealing to responsibility might. Excerpt from “The Shame Machine: Who Profits in the New Age of Humiliation.”

Not necessarily ignorant.

Not necessarily ignorant.

Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

The experience of the global Covid-19 pandemic raises a troubling question about the state of human society: Why would so many otherwise intelligent people refuse vaccines that can save their lives and help protect their friends and loved ones?

The answer lies to a large extent in shame, and in the ways government officials, scientists and community leaders should and shouldn’t deploy it.