May 13, 2021

For the Annals of Lateral Thinking: Ohio makes vaccinating into a million-dollar lottery.

Governor Mike DeWine announces on Twitter: 

Two weeks from tonight on May 26th, we will announce a winner of a separate drawing for adults who have received at least their first dose of the vaccine. This announcement will occur each Wednesday for five weeks, and the winner each Wednesday will receive one million dollars.

The pool of names for the drawing will be derived from the Ohio Secretary of State’s publicly available voter registration database. Further, we will make available a webpage for people to sign up for the drawings if they are not in a database we are using. The Ohio Department of Health will be the sponsoring agency for the drawings, and the Ohio Lottery will conduct them. The money will come from existing federal Coronavirus Relief Funds.

To be eligible to win, you must be at least 18 years of age or older on the day of the drawing. You must be an Ohio resident. And, you must be vaccinated before the drawing. We will have further, specific details tomorrow and in the days ahead.

I know that some may say, “DeWine, you’re crazy! This million-dollar drawing idea of yours is a waste of money.” But truly, the real waste at this point in the pandemic -- when the vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it -- is a life lost to COVID-19.

You could spend $5 million on ads cajoling people — or shaming them — into getting vaccinated. One way or another, it costs money to complete the vaccination project. The great thing about the lottery idea is that it's an effort to reach minds that are not primarily oriented to science — people who are emotional and transrational.

Am I making up the word "transrational"? I had to look it up. I can't credit myself with coinage. There's a whole Wikipedia article, but let's see if it means what I — in my thwarted word-coining effort — had in mind:

Transrational... refers to the experience of phenomena occurring within the natural universe where information and experiences does not readily fit into the typical cause and effect structure; the kinds of experience that are often dismissed as unfathomable or superstitious. It differs from the ‘supernatural’ and the ‘rational’ in that it neither directly controverts nor affirms rational reason. A transrational experience is not pathological. One of the most popular examples of transrational experiences are individuals witnessing blessed/evil omens which turn out to become true, or feelings of extremely intense dread which helped staved an individual from disastrous catastrophes, even if the individual has zilch prior knowledge or context....

People are often so afraid of being considered "pre-rational" that they avoid and deny the possibility of the transrational....

Well, this particular Wikipedia article isn't written according to the usual Wikipedia standards. It's more like a blog post. There's an effort to flip rationality into irrationality: People cling to rationality out of fear. That's not an entirely irrational thing to say, but it's just interesting speculation. I happen to think many people irrationally believe in their own rationality, but the answer to that isn't to become "transrational," but to work endlessly on the rationality of your rationality, which is not easy.

The Wikipedia article ends with 6 examples of the transrational, beginning with this:

[After an account of human communication with animals and stones] “Of course, many of us shudder when we think of some of our companions who do talk with inanimate objects or invisible friends. Yet even here, I think that psychologists’ scholarly prejudices have often overcome their common sense and analytical skills. The point is not whether people talk to animals and plants, but the validity of the messages that are given and received.”

In that light, may I recommend the Haruki Murakami story "Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey"? It's in this new collection. A man encounters a monkey who talks to him at some length — about how he learned to speak, about how his only sexual attraction is to human females, and about how he fulfills his sexual needs by "stealing" part of the name of each woman he loves. But can the man tell anyone about the talking monkey?

Why try if no one would ever believe me? People would only end up saying I was just “making up stuff again.” I also couldn’t figure out what format to use. It was way too bizarre to write about it as if it were real, and as long as I couldn’t provide proof—proof, that is, that the monkey actually existed—no one would ever buy it. That said, if I wrote about it as fiction, it lacked a clear focus, or a point. I could well imagine, even before I started writing about it, my editor’s puzzled expression after reading the manuscript, and the question that would follow: “I hesitate to ask you, since you’re the author, but—what’s the theme of this story supposed to be?” Theme? Can’t say there is one. It’s just about an old monkey who speaks human language, in a tiny town in Gunma Prefecture, who scrubs guests’ backs in the hot springs, enjoys cold beer, falls in love with human women, and steals their names. Where’s the theme in that? Or moral?

That's not how the story ends. There's more, and it's quite satisfying.

1 comment:

Ann Althouse said...

Tom T writes: “ Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but if the winner of the vaccine lottery is someone whose shot was paid for by a federal insurance program (Medicare/Medicaid/Tricare), the financial inducement if the lottery money is likely to be a violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act.”