What Coffee and Population Health Have in Common

Coffee, refrigeration, the internet. One constant throughout history is that people often fear change. Specifically, people fear the advent of new technology.

A cup of coffee with a sugar cube and a pile of beans

I recently read a fantastic piece by Steven Overly in the Washington Post that explores just this concept. In brief, Overly boils down humanity’s hesitations into 8 conclusions:

  1. People sometimes oppose innovation even when it seems to be in their best interest.
  2. Technologies that are vastly superior to their predecessors, or don’t have any predecessors, are more easily adopted.
  3. Resistance to new technologies comes from three key constituents, including the average consumer.
  4. Humans make decisions about new innovations with their gut rather than evidence.
  5. People flock to technologies that make them more autonomous and mobile.
  6. People typically don’t fear new technology, they fear the loss it will bring.
  7. Technologists often don’t think about the impact their inventions have on society.
  8. Innovation is not slow, linear or incremental — but the government doesn’t realize that.

Looked at together, these reasons can be cited for the slow adoption of wider spread population health methods. Fortunately (like coffee, refrigeration, and the internet), we are starting to see these methods gain more and more favor.


Mark Behl