Peter Sandman: How Your Ability To Process Risk Can Save Your Life

How much do things around you need to change before you start changing your behavior?

Dr. Peter Sandman has made a career out of analyzing people’s “adjustment reaction” process. And it turns out, people are wired differently.

Some watch the world intently, looking for early indicators of change and reacting swiftly to them. Others prefer not to get distracted by the “small stuff” and only pay attention once change is forced on them.

Neither approach is inherently right or wrong, but the difference often sets us up for conflict and confrontation when big risks are involved. Those who argue for swift, extreme action are resisted by the side not convinced change is necessary – as the covid-19 pandemic has clearly revealed. Families have been divided and long-term friendships ended as the “Masks for everyone!” and “It’s just the flu, bro!” camps have gone to war.

Dr. Sandman is a top world expert on risk communication. In today’s podcast, he explains the fundamentals for mobilizing people when risk is involved and why the US has done such a poor job of it so far with the pandemic:

When you did your adjustment reaction show, I received a lot of emails from people saying "Thank you for explaining the adjustment reaction. Either I felt like I was being an idiot -- or my family thought so, my friends thought so, my colleagues thought so -- and this helped me understand what I was doing. This was something I could show them to explain that this is reasonable."

I think it’s important to understand that the adjustment reaction is a normal, healthy reaction even if the crisis fizzles. I mean it’s not just that you’re guessing right. If you have an adjustment reaction and you become hypervigilant and you take precautions, you’re in a better position to notice what happens. So if the crisis gets worse, you’re in a better position to notice it and you’re ready to respond. If the crisis fizzles, you’re in a better position to notice that and stand down. So it’s not only useful when you turn out right; it’s also useful when you turn out wrong.

As for the US, we’re going to get there later than a lot of other cultures because we’re as polarized as we’ve ever been and more than any country I’m aware of. That gets in the way. Our leaders and our public health officials have done a crappy job of communication. At every step they’ve done a crappy job of precaution advocacy early on. They’re dong a crappy job of crisis communication in places where things are bad. They’re doing a crappy job of outrage management when people are saying “How dare you destroy my economy?!” or “How dare you manage this pandemic so badly?!”. It’s stunning to me that the CDC has yet to apologize for having messed up testing. It’s stunning that the public health profession has yet to apologize for having messed up masks. There are three key paradigms – precaution advocacy, crisis communication, outrage management – we’re 0 for 3 in doing any of them well.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Peter Sandman (60m:53s).

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Two thumbs up for the topic alone. I’m looking forward to listening.
The psychology of risk assessment (how humans often over or underestimate perceived vs real risks) and the art of persuasion (Robert B. Cialdini, Scott Adams) are fascinating topics.

A person in the US (of any demographic) who gets shot by a police officer for a completely unjustified reason.
So who benefits from pumping up the outrage beyond where it naturally occurs?

Well it is a low hazard if you are white. It is a higher hazard if you are Hispanic. It is the highest hazard if you are black. No matter the demographic if you are the one getting shot the hazard is high and the outrage is high. there was a video posted by 000 on a different thread today about the uber militarization of the police. It is worth watching.It is also worth noting that police are now looking more like troops in Kandahar than Cops in Philadelphia in 1950. BTW didn’t a whole block get bombed in Philadelphia by “law enforcement”?

This is thread about communication and i have no desire to derail it by digressing into a debate about the police. That said I feel justified in responding to the above post . This is a video posted by 000 earlier. It is well worth a watch. I will be out of this discussion from here on out.

I’m still suffering a bit of whiplash how, just a month ago, cops were “heroes” (apparently for enforcing the “no dry sand” lockdown orders, and making sure barbers weren’t allowed to cut hair) and now they are the villains of the piece.
Does anyone remember the stats on how many NYPD officers have been infected on the job? When they asked for facemasks, I recall they were blown off. I also remember reading how some subset of the public they dealt with would cough in their faces, apparently just for fun.
But now they are the bad guys.
Same exact people.
I guess they were no longer useful to the new narrative, so their assigned role had to change. Or something.

This is somewhat related in that it dives into the issue of freedom. Lots of people talk about it but I don’t here too much about what a working definition is. This essay breaks freedom down into freedom to and freedom from.
Basically one is based solely on the idea of individual freedom and the other also incorporates the idea of freedom to give back to the community. Freedumb which is blatantly evident in the refusal to wear masks. I am not sure it is based entirely on poor communication. I think it has more to do with the complete disregard for the freedom of the community as a whole. To most Amerikaans it boils down to economic freedom. Once I have mine then I will be free. There is an almost complete absence of community. Community has been replaced by tribalism. Tribalism negates communication as it is primarily oppositional. Thus we have the polarization we see today. Community fosters communication and opens new possibilities not only for communication but freedom. The root of communication is the same as community.
So we can see how freedom has become freedumb when a woman goes into a Costco with a surgical mask hanging off one ear and when told she needs to wear it on her face or leave , she sits down in the store. This is a perfect example of freedumb.
Cool Hand Luke

I guess they were no longer useful to the new narrative, so their assigned role had to change. Or something.
Careful! Noticing is a thoughtcrime circa 2020. But no worries: our propaganda machine is still working just fine. Move along, nothing to see here...

So there is a correlation of 0.2 between Hazard and Outrage?
I’m not surprised. How many people listened to M. King Hubbert in the 1950s? How many were concerned when Limits to Growth was put out by the Club of Rome in 1972? How many went into action to conserve fossil fuels after reading J. M. Kunstler’s The Long Emergency? How many are on this site now? And how many of us here are actually “getting it”? The 0.2 correlation explains a lot about how we have destroyed our only planet (and might destroy ourselves along with it).

Once again, great interview by Chris. I loved the look on Chris’ face when Dr. Sandman was apologizing for the confusing messages from our managers about face masks. Chris, that look was hilariously unforgiving. You clearly do not have a poker face. I got a belly laugh from it.
Nonetheless, you did a great job respecting your guest and getting a big bang with probing questions. I got the impression that Dr. Sandman’s adjustment reaction was a little on the slow side. He kept talking about a premature adjustment reaction in relation to the Covid, but I could not understand that. Although Chris advised us to start preparing end of January, I waited till the end of February and wished I had started earlier!
I disagree with Dr. Sandman that we are past the point of the adjustment reaction; I think we’re just getting started. Time will tell…
I love how the interview hammered home how we all react differently and to a different inner clock. It helps the quicker adapters tolerate the slower adapters. Patience is not one of my virtues.
At one point Chris points out the messaging on face mask wearing was a national train wreck, but I think TPTB are quite satisfied with the outcome of that confusing messaging. The “messengers” have not got it right yet. Hell even a broken clock gets it right twice a day. Missing on every cylinder is not statistically probable unless that’s what you’re aiming for.
I was disappointed in Dr. Sandman’s explanation for the managers not wanting to just tell us the truth that they did not have enough masks for our front line HCW’s, and to wear home made masks as “too complicated” for the general public. What kind of apologist is this? The public’s an imbecile? TPTB are so worried about us, they lie to us - dangerously so? Because they did not have enough face masks? Because that predicament was a little too complicated for John Q. MainStreet to understand? This segment of the interview led me to believe Dr. Sandman has a bit of an ivory tower view, and is probably a friend/colleague of effin Fauci.
The bottom line? Dr. Sandman essentially said the US is the slow kid on the block because when you’ve been bad boys and girls, always plead incompetence.

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I usually download the mp3 and listen to the same on my DAP. Would appreciate it if the site can provide the same? Cheers :slight_smile:

Chris said that zinc and a corona virus spike both enter the cell at the same point. If the zinc is already in the cell at this point and the corona virus should try to enter the cell, would it not violate a law of physics that says that two things can not be at the same point at the same time. This would mean that the corona virus should sit out side cell die in a form starvation. THINK I WILL ADD TO THAT THANKS ZINC !!!

“SOLAR CYCLE 25 STRENGTHENS: There’s no longer any doubt. New Solar Cycle 25 is coming to life. The latest sign came today with the emergence of a new sunspot group, inset in this magnetic map of the sun’s surface from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory” ;
Now that a correlation has been established between solar activity and earthquakes (see earlier reference to the research paper) Fastener your seat belts limies, put kit in your caboodle and standby for a good knocking down of your over structures ladies and lads. Chris’s and Adam’s intuition about simulhighess disastrousness has wheels and the tank is full.