Ralph speaks to behavioral economist, Robert H. Frank, about another kind of contagion, the good kind: peer pressure - and the ways peer pressure can help mitigate the climate crisis. Then, we welcome epidemiologist, Dr. Michael Mina, who explains how a program of frequent and rapid Covid testing can have the same effect as a vaccine.
Robert H. Frank is the H.J. Louis Professor of Management and Professor of Economics at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. For more than a decade his “Economic View” column appeared monthly in The New York Times. He has published on a variety of topics including price and wage discrimination, and public utility pricing. Dr. Frank is a New York Times bestselling author. His books include The Winner-Take-All Society, The Economic Naturalist and Success and Luck. His most recent book is Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work.
“If a carbon tax induces me to put a solar panel on my rooftop, it’s not just my action that we’ve got to count as a benefit of having done that. It’s the actions of those thirty-two copycat installations that we’re going to see in two years’ time; and all the others that we’re going to see expanding from networks of friends and relatives that we all have in other places.”
Dr. Robert H. Frank, author of Under the Influence: Putting Peer Pressure to Work
“Barry Commoner the great late environmentalist used to say, ‘you want to control pollution? Prevent it.’ Once you start incrementally regulating it, you invite all the lobbyists to game the system and overpower the regulator.”
“When seat belts were introduced they were voluntarily used. It reached about 20% of the motorists. When the federal mandate came in on seatbelts, it didn’t take long for usage to go to 70%. It’s now about 90% wherever it’s mandated.”
Michael Mina is an epidemiologist, immunologist and physician. He is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and a core member of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. Dr. Mina’s research combines mathematical and epidemiological models to better understand the patterns of infectious disease in the population. His research also explores questions of immunity. Dr. Mina is currently advocating for a shift towards cheap daily coronavirus tests for everyone.
“These tests would essentially do the same thing [as a vaccine] only it wouldn’t be working by eliciting a strong immune response. It’s giving people information about their status so they can stop the transmission willingly by staying home. So, I do believe that within weeks if these could be introduced into any population that that population could get the [corona]virus under control.”
Dr. Michael Mina, epidemiologist and physician