Natural selection against the stupid

By September 24, 2021Science, Society

Early in September, I wrote a piece with the rather obscure title ‘Antivaxxers don’t do irony’. Its main thesis was that antivaxxers do not seem to understand that the governments they support, which are invariably right-wing, will be the governments who are less concerned with the human cost of Covid-19 and more concerned with the monetary cost, especially among their donors1, and that this will likely lead to more deaths among the antivaxxers and other unvaccinated people. 

Not long after I wrote that, I became aware of the fact that the wave of the Delta variant currently running rampant in the United States is largely among the unvaccinated2. This is also true of the Delta variant running riot in New South Wales, Victoria and to a lesser extent, the Australian Capital Territory. For instance, less than 2% of people admitted to intensive care in New South Wales in the first 11 weeks of this recent Delta outbreak were fully vaccinated (i.e. had two doses)3. At the time of writing, NSW has had 45.5% of its total population (not just over 16s) fully vaccinated4, although 11 weeks ago, it was only about 3%5.

While some of these people are unable to be vaccinated, so many are unvaccinated on purpose. These are the antivaxxers. They are usually conspiracy theorists, who believe such QAnon idiocies as: the vaccine makes you magnetic; the vaccine contains a Bill Gates’ chip which controls your mind; the vaccine can make women infertile; that mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) alter your DNA; development of the vaccine was rushed so it is unsafe; getting a vaccine will give you Covid-19; more people have died from the vaccine than from Covid-19; the vaccines were developed using fetal tissue6,7; among many others8.

While the gullible ignoramuses who follow the drivel put about by QAnon conspiracy theorists do not have the critical thinking skills or the knowledge to understand when they are being fed bullshit, there are many people who you’d think would have the ability to understand what is bullshit and what is not. However, seemingly, they do not have that capacity either. Many of these have paid the ultimate price for their stupidity, by losing their lives, but they also are the target of much post-mortem ridicule which, unfortunately, will be of no concern to them.

Some of these people were broadcasters and religious figures. They include:

Dick Farrel, a south Florida talk show host known for his far right-wing opinions, died from complications from Covid-19. On Facebook, Farrel advocated against getting the coronavirus vaccine. However, it seems that after he came down with Covid-19, he changed his mind9.

Jimmy DeYoung, a Christian radio broadcaster who questioned the Covid-19 vaccines, died Sunday following a short battle with the virus. He questioned the utility of vaccines and wondered whether vaccines were another form of government control of the people10.

Phil Valentine, a conservative talk radio host from Tennessee has died following a lengthy battle with Covid-19. He voiced scepticism about Covid-19 vaccine, and in a show of bravado, when he tweeted: “I have a very low risk of A) Getting COVID and B) dying of it if I do. Why would I risk getting a heart attack or paralysis by getting the vaccine?” He even recorded a parody song ‘Vaxman’ mocking the vaccine. In July, he told his audience he had Covid-19 and he expected to be back soon11.

Marc Bernier, a conservative radio host from Florida who criticised coronavirus vaccination efforts, and called himself “Mr Anti-Vax”, contracted Covid-19 and was hospitalised in early August and died later that month12.

Caleb Wallace, a 30-year-old Texan who co-ordinated vast anti-face mask protests and founded the coronavirus sceptics group the San Angelo Freedom Defenders died from Covid-19 in late August. In late July, he began feeling ill but initially refused to go to hospital, instead taking the livestock de-worming medication ivermectin that health authorities have repeatedly urged people not to consume. He had three children and another one on the way13.

Antivaxxer, Kristen Lowery, the mother of four school-aged children in California, maintained in Facebook posts that she was a ‘free thinker’ and proclaimed herself “unmasked, unmuzzled, unvaccinated, unafraid”. She was hospitalised with Covid-19 in September and it was announced on the 15th of September that she had died14.

Tod Tucker, a pro-Trump radio programmer, died from Covid-19 in early August. He had previously mocked the idea of receiving the vaccine, allegedly writing in a March Facebook post, “Please stop bragging that you got your COVID vaccine. What do you want us to say? ‘Congratulations lab rat?!’”15

Not only are the science denier antivaxxers falling to Covid-19, but so are the religious nutters who seem to think that their beliefs will protect them. 

Founder and leader of the New Deliverance Evangelistic Church in Virginia, Bishop Gerald Glenn died from Covid-19. After the governor of Virginia urged people to “avoid non-essential gatherings of more than 10 people,” Glenn told his congregation that “I firmly believe that God is larger than this dreaded virus”16.

Bob Enyart, a self-proclaimed “right-wing religious fanatic” and long-time talk show host in Colorado, has died from Covid-19. He referred to himself as “America’s most popular self-proclaimed right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host,” and was a pastor of the Denver Bible Church. He swore off the Covid-19 vaccine17.

Reddit is a website for aggregating social news, rating web content and discussing that content. It is divided into user-created threads, each called a ‘subreddit’. One of these subreddits is called the Herman Cain Award18 and, in part it pours scorn on idiots like those above. It is worth scanning through; although most of the recent posts are of people withdrawing their candidacy, by getting vaccinated.

The subreddit was named after the former Republican presidential candidate and supporter of President Donald Trump, who refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, and died from Covid-19. It was suspected that he contracted the virus at a Trump rally19.

Although sometimes I feel guilty laughing at these mindless science-denying idiots, that feeling passes very quickly, especially when I think of how they not only endangered their own lives and the lives of their families and friends, but also how they refused the single thing that would probably have saved their lives – vaccination. However, I do try to look on the bright side, insofar as their deaths benefit the human species. By their deaths they make the human species, on average, just that little bit more intelligent, and just that little bit more caring. Natural selection is a cruel master.



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