Too ignorant to realise how ignorant they are

I was having discussion about how vaccination makes people much less likely to get sick and die, and a bloke, again, jumped into a thread about deaths from vaccines (as is his wont)1, and asked if “you ppl source information anywhere other than your television?” I replied: “Yeah. Science, Nature, NEJM, The Lancet, New Scientist, ATAGI, TGA, NIH, CDC, ourworldindata, worldometers, assorted universities and other scientific organisations. Where do you get yours? Craig Kelly? George Christensen? Matt Canavan?” He replied with “which of those is saying ivermectin is no treatment for Covid” (Sigh…..)

Some wacky QAnon conspiracy theorist then jumped in and said: “We can B certain nothing is true from public health sources with coronavirus because it has never been isolated in pure form [sic] to make gross inaccurate claims like this or any other hypothesis they use poisoning a nation.” I replied with ‘If it has never been isolated, then how did we sequence the genome?’ 

The original bloke of course took it the wrong way assuming that the genome probably hadn’t been sequenced, replying “a good question..u gotta wonder if they have”. I replied to this with: ‘Of course they have. That is how they determine which strain they are dealing with. Do you know what PCR* stands for?’He replied with (I kid you not): “is that the test they binned because it cldn’t tell the difference between Covid n the Flu?” I replied with ‘Google Polymerase Chain Reaction*, or read this’, to which I attached a fact sheet on PCR2. Hilariously, he replied “mine is from January this year… superceded [sic] this”. Attached was a link to stuff to which he referred. It was from the US Food and Drug Administration which referred to the recall of two rapid antigen tests; the “LLC CovClear COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test** and ImmunoPass COVID-19 Neutralizing Antibody Rapid Test”3.

He seemed to think that because a rapid antigen test kit and a rapid antibody test kit had been recalled, then all tests were suspect; RATs** and PCR* tests included. The fact that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have approved 23 RAT test kits seems to have escaped him4, as has the fact that PCR tests do not come as kits. Then he said “they still use the rats..if you can find one in Australia..they do not use the PCR test”. I couldn’t contain myself. I replied: Hahahahaha! Where did you hear that one? That is hilarious. I continued with “I have had three PCR tests, sport. Are you a religious nutter?” (he occasionally posts cheesy stuff referring to his god). He replied with “I don’t care how many you’ve had.. you won’t be getting another”. I replied to this with “Wrong” and “Whoever is telling you this garbage, is lying to you. Surely you cannot be this gullible.” I accompanied the latter with a link to the Australian Capital Territory’s Health Department Covid19 website which tells you where you can have your PCR test and how long the queue waiting times are5.

I don’t know where these buffoons get their information; it seems not to be from this planet. The QAnon nutter then chimed in saying that the “first rule [is] trust no authority whatsoever” and that we should all take our masks off as they “restrict breathing and recycle exhaled germs and bacteria” (QAnon technical jargon?). So, what did he accompany this with? He gave a link to an ‘authority’ from his cult. You have to laugh. The fact that neither of these blokes knew the difference between PCR tests and RAT kits is astonishing as the information is everywhere on the web.

Sometimes I wonder if people like this are simply unable to use Google or Safari (I use both) or any other web browser, are too lazy to try to find things out, or whether they are functionally illiterate so that if they found anything informative, would be unable to comprehend it. As a consequence, they believe any old horseshit they are told up the pub or at their church or One Notion or United Australia Party meeting.

We live in an age where a large proportion of the world’s knowledge is only a few keystrokes away and yet people are unable or unwilling to inform themselves. Their ignorance, wilful or otherwise, is a danger to us and even more to themselves in this third year of the pandemic. This is a prime example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect which, in psychology, refers to a cognitive bias whereby people with limited knowledge or competence in a given field greatly overestimate their own knowledge or competence in that field relative to objective criteria or to the performance of their peers, or of people in general6. They are too deficient in knowledge and ability to realise they are deficient in knowledge and ability.

*Polymerase Chain Reaction. Sometimes called ‘molecular photocopying’, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a fast and inexpensive technique used to “amplify” – copy – small segments of DNA. Because significant amounts of a sample of DNA are necessary for molecular and genetic analyses, studies of isolated pieces of DNA are nearly impossible without PCR amplification. Often heralded as one of the most important scientific advances in molecular biology, PCR revolutionised the study of DNA to such an extent that its creator, Kary B. Mullis, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1993. To amplify a segment of DNA using PCR, the sample is first heated so the DNA denatures, or separates into two pieces of single-stranded DNA. Next, an enzyme called “Taq polymerase” synthesizes – builds – two new strands of DNA, using the original strands as templates. This process results in the duplication of the original DNA, with each of the new molecules containing one old and one new strand of DNA. Then each of these strands can be used to create two new copies, and so on, and so on. The cycle of denaturing and synthesizing new DNA is repeated as many as 30 or 40 times, leading to more than one billion exact copies of the original DNA segment. The entire cycling process of PCR is automated and can be completed in just a few hours. It is directed by a machine called a thermocycler, which is programmed to alter the temperature of the reaction every few minutes to allow DNA denaturing and synthesis. PCR is valuable in a number of laboratory and clinical techniques, including DNA fingerprinting, detection of bacteria or viruses (including SARS-Cov2), and the diagnosis of genetic disorders2.

**Rapid Antigen Test. Rapid antigen tests detect the presence of specific proteins of the virus. They are most accurate when used to test symptomatic individuals. They are not as good at detecting the virus as a PCR test. Rapid antigen tests are generally best performed within the first 7 days from when symptoms first appear. They are not as accurate if you do not have symptoms and can produce false negative or false positive results. Most tests produce a result within 10-20 minutes7.




  • Warren says:

    I’ve been a thermocycler for years. Cheap transport.

  • Jon says:

    I’ve seen, and rebutted, the PCR “binning” disinformation, and completely erroneous (and ignorant) claims by a former Pfizer about PCR accuracy on sport oriented websites of all things. This intellectually bankrupt waffle (tenable if you’re credulous and/or too lazy to research facts for yourself) is clearly being pushed and absorbed by compliant fools on places like Telegram, Facebook and likely the even more extreme rw and conspiracy/freedom junkie websites. The “binning” claim was dealt with by the very agency involved in its original approval – the USA CDC. Simple fact is that the original test/procedures were replaced by more efficient and cost-effective tests.
    Pretty sure I mentioned it on Blot previously but an expert medical scientist in the USA who actually works in the nuclear/molecular field demolished the former Pfizer exec’s claims about PCR accuracy and what it could and could not do at the time (it may have improved further since then as the science advanced). The scientist felt duty bound to respond to the bs being circulated about PCR tests in some quarters. In a blog (name and credentials provided) he conceded that part of the Pfizer executive’s PCR statements were accurate but stated clearly that his knowledge/understanding was limited and his conclusions were wrong. He demonstrated where and why by breaking down the process and the ex-exec’s claims piece by piece. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to relocate that rebuttal despite searches on and off since.

  • Jon says:

    Just had a quick look and the “binning” I referred to is different from the RAT tests (yes I know) you mentioned. Same modus operandi of the anti-vaxxer/freedom junkie brigade though I see.

    The FDA explains why both tests were recalled : “These tests were distributed with labeling indicating they are authorized by the FDA, but neither test has been authorized, cleared, or approved by the FDA for distribution or use in the United States. ” Simple enough for even school kids to understand but too complex for blinkered ideologues no doubt.

    • admin says:

      I really do despair of these people. I don’t know if they are on the increase, or just more vocal because they have a pandemic cause to play with. If they are becoming more numerous, I wonder why that would be so.

  • Mark Dougall says:

    Yesterday I went for drive to the nearby town to do a bit of shopping. As I left our rural property driveway I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a vehicle several hundred metres behind me. The speed limit on our road is 80 kph but there is a temporary limit about a km from us reducing it to sixty which has been there for a while as there are major works being done to get rid of feral olive trees, and there are tractors coming in and out of the area. The car behind was obviously traveling very fast as it caught me by the time I got to the 60 zone. He then drove as close to me as it was physically possible and then decided he had to overtake. I could see that he thought I was somehow obstructing him and that he had not seen the several, very large speed limit, and road work, signs. He then overtook, not noticing the very large tractor that had just come out across the road in front of him. I blasted my horn at him and came to an almost stop so he could pull in front and miss the tractor. The tractor driver gave him the bird. The point of this is that there are people who are so stupid that they ignore anything even speed limit signs, or tractors, and cannot be bothered doing the right thing, and think that their needs are more important than those of anyone else. They are happy to put everyone’s life at risk, even their own, simply because they are complete and utter fuckwits. I think that the driver was a QAnon person.

    • admin says:

      I pulled up at the lights on the way home from work one evening, behind a little white sedan. On the top middle of the rear window of this vehicle was a large sticker divided in two, the right half was a half face of Trump, while on the left half was something I couldn’t make out, and in the middle was the mantra for QAnon vegetables WWG1WGA (Where we go one, we go all). And they call us sheep. You have to laugh. I had never seen this sticker here before and I presume (and hope) he was one of the freedumb nutters demonstrating over the last few days outside Parliament House, and who were camped, ironically and illegally, near the National Library. The police removed the campers today. I’m just watching this on the news. Some of these people would be out of their depth arguing the toss with a Brassica. I get angry at these nutters, but also feel sorry for them. And their kids.

    • Arthur Baker says:

      Mark, you might like to try this experiment. Each time I know I’m going to be driving for at least ten minutes, I start counting as soon as I leave home. (I’m in Sydney, northern beaches area). Ten minutes into the excursion, I have a count of the number of drivers I’ve witnessed breaking the law or otherwise behaving dangerously or inconsiderately. Speeding. Driving through red lights. Overtaking dangerously. Tailgating (which I define as not allowing one car’s length per 10kph). Pulling out from side road, causing another car to slow down to avoid collision. Fiddling with mobile phone. Wrong side of the road, or crossing double white line. Parking illegally. Stopping in no-stopping zone. Cutting in. Failing to check rear-view mirror. Dog unrestrained in back seat, or worse, on driver’s lap. Failing to indicate turn. The list is endless.

      After ten minutes the count is NEVER fewer than four, unless it’s 4 o’clock in the morning, and has been as many as 11 – more than one per minute. Conclusion: driving without due care and attention is not an aberration. It’s the norm. Safe drivers are the aberration. This should teach us something – on the road, never NEVER leave anything to chance. Car ahead pulling in from a side road? You have the right of way, but that doesn’t help you if you collide with the idiot – your right foot should be off the accelerator and hovering over the brake pedal. Just in case. I’ve applied this principle almost all my life, as I learned it from my father – assume every other driver is a fuckwit. Last accident I had was 1981, and it wasn’t my fault. So the cautionary principle works. The risks of not applying it are simply too great.

  • Russell says:

    Mark had experience of a driver who’s clearly a rude, thoughtless…..well, plain “fuckwit”. I’d suggest that Australians should be seriously questioning why we have a federal government so astoundingly full of rude, phoney, dishonest fuckwits who have just about the same IQ of that driver who nearly ran into a tractor.
    There’s an election coming, for what it’s worth, (-because “democracy” is now pretty much not what we live in, despite appearances.) Aussies need to look long and hard in their rear view mirror at the track record of the LNP, the party sending us to hell in a hand basket since 2011. That should prompt them to ask themselves if they are so inane, perhaps fuckwitted, as to wish upon Australia another four years of the abhorrent, mendacious snake oil salesman Scummo and his venal, vacuous team of pathetic poseurs now busy sucking the life-blood out of this country. Woe betide the folk who don’t see clearly the wreckage and the social mayhem that is the legacy of the LNP criminal gang, whose respect for us voters is so low, that they have the gall even to attempt asking us if they could (please0 run their laughable shit-show until 2027 !

  • Arthur Baker says:

    Russell, I agree in principle with everything you’ve written here. A few words on dates and durations. A federal government term is three years, so if the stuffwits are re-elected in May, they’ll be there until 2025. Although one has to wonder, if they get that fourth term this year, whether we’ll ever see the back of them. If we can’t rid ourselves of them after the balls-up they’ve made of pandemic management, and while their factions are punching each other out, when exactly might we expect to do so? (Remember the occasions when they’ve solemnly declared they don’t have factions? Bwa ha ha. LOL.)

    They were most recently elected to government from opposition in 2013 not 2011, but there’s a case to be made for the idea that the 6-year interregnum of the ALP (2007-2013) was so disrupted by the imbecile who was my MP back then (Abbott), one could justify the statement they’ve been “sending us to hell in a hand basket” consistently since the 1996 beginning of John Howard’s stifling and seemingly endless custodianship. (The ALP’s own infighting did make it easier for Abbott, but his behaviour towards Julia Gillard in particular was outrageous enough to justify the above claim, I suggest).

    Howard’s reign began with the gun amnesty and buy-back after Port Arthur, and that was a good initiative, but it all went downhill from there.

  • Russell says:

    Thanks so much for the corrections re dates for LNP government. I had thought the federal election meant four years in power. Also I was, like so many people, a bit unclear on which dud replaced which failure during the years 2009 to 2015, at which point Tony Fruitcake was finally given the boot. The revolving door of leadership in both major parties since the Gillard years reveals that the quality of those parties has significantly declined, although to say so is like observing that the Burj Khalifa is tall. The nadir of the nasty Liberals was, of course, the replacement of Lord Bullturd by his “great supporter” HO HO – Headcrusher Moronson.
    (Remember the hand on Mal’s shoulder and that slick sick smile on his ally? It said so much about the creep who will no longer be leader, come May 31st.)

    • admin says:

      I have a suspicion that Morrison will be gone earlier than the election. Even the RWNJ cartoonists are turning against him.

  • John says:

    I understand your frustration but I doubt that the quoted responses to your protagonists or your other comments aimed at such people will encourage a change of mind in any of them. Since I was a young man, I have wished that I had been born with the necessary genes to make me tall, dark, handsome, a good all-round sportsman, a jazz clarinetist and an engineering materials scientist. Just as genes dictate that no amount of dedication to good diet and exercise was ever going to result in my acquiring those physical attributes, no amount of dedication to education and training was ever going to result in my acquiring the mental attributes to be a musician or scientist. With the encouragement of people who loved me I was able to make the best of my talents, all-round average.

    With that in mind, I think trying to engage with the emotional side of your protagonist’s brain is likely to be more effective than the approach you employ. How about asking people protesting government responses to Covid-19, which ones they will protest about if the next epidemic is a gastrological one that has the same transmission, hospitalization and death profile but instead of starting with a cough, starts with the sudden onset of projectile vomiting and then the development of diarrhea.

    All the best with your endeavors to convince people to vote against the current government in the forthcoming election.

    • admin says:

      I don’t for a minute think that my railing against the antivaxxer buffoons, will convince any of them to change their wacky views. However, there may be the occasional person who is uncertain, mostly through ignorance, who may become more acquainted with reality. If that happens, then it will have been worth it. As for engaging with the emotional side of the antivaxxer’s brain. I think that is likely to be a waste of time too. It is their emotional side which they use to deny reality. To be blunt, I wouldn’t know where to begin. It would much better be left to a psychologist. I am simply an enthusiastic people watcher.

      • John says:

        Points well taken but I will explain mine a little further.

        People cannot see the aerosol containing virus when an infected person coughs or smell their breath unless within the unsafe distance, so antivaxxers do not perceive danger. But if presented with a word picture of someone vomiting within range of them and the smell someone who has just had loose bowel discharge, I suspect their emotional reaction would be, in that case everyone vaccinated. Then one puts the question well the transmission, hospitalization and death profile is no worse than Covid-19 so why not get vaccinated?

        I think you are anything but a simple people watcher.

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