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Positive Peer Pressure/The Covid Testing Solution

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 SocietyThe 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.”

Ralph Nader

“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.”

Ralph Nader


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

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 338 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. Bruce K. says:

    I remember Barry Commoner and thought highly of him based on what I heard and read of him. Nice to hear him mentioned. I don’t see a way our system could be tweaked to find just these types of honest, dedicated, fair people … the sort of thing that was meant by “rule by the philosopher kings”. According to Plato, a philosopher king is a ruler who possesses both a love of wisdom, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life. Everyone in our government comes in, gets rich and leaves a multi-millionaire or a billionaire if they play their cards right.

    Our system is more and more bending over backwards to reward criminals and raw force. We are heading through the door of a very dark age. You might consider having Philip N. Howard the author of the just released book “Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives”

    I’ve said it before though, The Republicans dominated the AM radio space, they win in any medium that is affected by money, and particularly profit. The own the TV networks. That which they may not own outright they an control or at least shutdown. Look at how the Democrats refuse to really get serious in this fight. They can’t fight with on hand behind their backs which depends on donations from those they are fighting.

    Democrats go around in isolation, like Joe Biden is laughingly accused of, writing books and lecturing to small groups while Republicans insult and ridicule them on mass media. Half of them are writing the same book. What is wrong with our country and how to fix it. Does anyone imagine enough people are ever going to read and be inspired enough by one book for it to lead anywhere. Meanwhile they people have to make money to survive, and in order to get to a certain level of respect they have to serve the system. They never incorporate or work together seriously to create an alternative system or bring about change or create a project plan for how that could happen. It is pure evaporative hope.

    Republicans have analyzed the system and they know how to manipulate and and take it over using the same tactics criminals have used throughout history, and it is not on our radar, and even if it was there is no governmental organ or system that can defend against this attack from the inside by a large number of people who own the country.

    The message I get from “peer pressure” is better phrased as incentives. The incentives are all wrong in America for a civilized society – the tend to fascism.

  2. Donald Klepack says:

    I agree with Dr Michael Mina using frequent testing. He said do not make it political and I agree with this additional step. Those that are positive and most vulnerable, especially seniors and sickly should see a Doctor immediately. In addition Ralph should have a guest that is one of the Front-line doctors that shows studies like the Henry Ford Study – https://www.henryford.com/news/2020/07/hydro-treatment-study
    using Hydroxychloroquine with zinc and azithromycin helped these patience.

    • Bruce K. says:

      > He said do not make it political

      Yeah, that would be nice, except it is the Republicans and their backers that know making everything political is their way to divide everyone. They are experts at it, and because no one really understands what is happening and they do know who is behind it and what they are doing – they are not thinking on that paranoid level that would make them immune to such psychological manipulations. The Corporatocracy knows how to maintain order and co-opt people into it. It’s like they said in NARCOS, people are terrorized, or if they are high enough up they get offered the silver or lead. Who would be mad enough to suffer or die for an unknown cause that no one would care about or even recognize? Instead the corruption grows with those on the inside cutting off those on the outside more every year. It’s all political, even it it’s not political.

  3. Bruce K. says:

    In terms of the massive testing regimen … if there is one thing the last years seems to have demonstrated, it is that some proportion of Americans do not have the respect or the discipline to understand, agree and adhere to any such testing protocol; and that if we made the huge investment it would take to put such a thing in place it seems very likely that some number of people sufficient to make a mess of things would rebel against it and make it all worthless. The very core of this country has been infected by “something” and we seem to be pretending and hoping that it will go away or that our system will handle, but that is not a workable response. Where are the scientists and investigators that can unravel this, and we have all this intrusive surveillance infrastructure permeating our lives and none of it is put to any positive productive use. Why? With all this surveillance infrastructure why do we still have corruption and organized crime? Those in charge are corrupt as Trump’s minions, and Trump is merely consolidating them into a giant James Bond villain organization like SPECTRE … only it is not hidden, it is governing right in front of our eyes.

  4. Yva Eastcott says:

    Dr. Mina’s assertion: “It’s giving people information about their status so they can stop the transmission willingly by staying home” is so optimistic it takes my breath away. Yes, some people — probably the very same who now wear their masks in public places — will do this. But we already know that our “go to work no matter what” culture will prompt others to do just that, COVID or not. Americans seldom stay home when they are sick: they pride themselves on going to work and toughing it out. And it is not just to appear resilient: a limited number of paid sick days usually allowed and the fear of losing one’s job created the concept that good and responsible workers are those who never stay home. Instead, they drag themselves out and — coughing and splattering — generously infect others not only at work, but on buses, subways and trains.

  5. Karen Bednarek says:

    Love Ralph who always reminds us chapter and verse of our history of creating positive and negative environmental impact and the long term consequences. So
    disappointed that AOC is too young to appreciate how listening to you and your
    wise informed guidance could exponentially benefit the planet, our health and social justice. Ralph, ultimate truthteller, you rock!
    I always learn from listening. Ever thought of having Nina Turner and Cornel West on your show; or Jimmy Dore to complement your comedian co-hosts?

  6. Brett Gleason says:

    What do you do when this man manipulated virus is then released by the billionaire vaccine investors cronies.? The politicians along with others invested in certain drugs and tests and no one gives a damn. In other words your up against more political will to stifle you than help you.