Soft sell, part II

Regarding the new, gentler approach to persuasion that I remarked upon in my last post: It's too late to educate the students in my med school lobby. Right now they're sitting by their posters proclaiming "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" and "if fifty planes crashed every day, would you find that acceptable?" Earlier today, they were apparently accosting people and waving around airport landing beacons.

The students are raising awareness for AIDS week, but it might as well be tobacco or cholesterol or speeding on the highway. "Raising awareness" is a laudable goal, but I suspect the people walking through our lobby already know a fair amount about health issues. What's more, I doubt these poor employees appreciate being told they're ignorant if they're not perpetually outraged. As Meyers asks in the Atlantic , is this about persuasion... or punishment?

These organizers have plenty the facts about AIDS in Africa, but a dim understanding of human nature. They are no doubt gathering some signatures for future mailings and meetings, and maybe even raising a little money along with awareness. But I'd wager they'd be more successful if they adopted a less confrontational, jarring approach. Unfortunately, though a soft sell approach might be more successful, I think the organizers would find it less satisfying. I don't expect things to change at next year's AIDS week.

UPDATE: blogborygmi has learned that Al Roker's colon was on national television this morning, as part of the colon cancer awareness campaign. I haven't decided if this approach fits with "gentle persuasion", "shock and rattle", or if it needs a new category altogether.