Railing against everything

By February 21, 2022Science, Society

I have had an off and on discussion with a couple of antivaxxers and they railed against the Pfizer vaccine because they said it hadn’t been approved. I sent them to a US Food and Drug Administration website demonstrating that it had been approved quite a while before. There was little comeback from them so they started railing against mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) in general because these are only new and have spike proteins (!). I pointed out that some of the other vaccines are not mRNA vaccines but virus mediated types (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson)1  and one of them replied that they wouldn’t use something in which the genome had been mucked around with. The vaccines which contain no genetic material did not even enter into their argument1. Their ignorance is profound. The problem is that they are too ignorant to know how ignorant they are. Unfortunately, even if they did know how ignorant they were, they do not seem to be capable of doing anything about it. To find a website explaining the details of the various types of vaccines used in dealing with assorted diseases, took me about five minutes. If I was railing against vaccines and vaccine mandates and trying desperately to develop arguments against them, I’d at least find out about them. Knowing your topic tends to make you look less foolish.

After a while, this pair’s true target became obvious. They were not railing against vaccines alone, but ‘the Establishment’ and they seem to believe they have been betrayed by the modern world. They distrust scientists, doctors, and anybody else who disagrees with their point of view or who has a responsible job requiring expertise. Their point of view is fluid and nebulous. So, they assume that whatever they are against, it is part of the establishment conspiracy, and vice versa. As a consequence, they will mistrust anyone who points them to anything that they consider the ‘establishment view’, or has anything to do with facts.

It seems that people like these, disparate as they are, formed a large bloc of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and would still do so, given the opportunity. I suspect that one of the factors they have in common with those people is limited education. While it would be comforting to believe that educational profile was the only common denominator, there is much more at play here, and probably has much to do with people’s psychological makeup (not that I’d know). In the 2016 US presidential election, there was a distinct correlation between education and voting; 48 of the 50 most highly educated counties voted strongly for Hilary Clinton, while 47 of the 50 most poorly educated counties voted strongly for Trump2. It is a supreme irony that people like this in their millions voted for Donald Trump in the hope that he would fix their problems because they simplemindedly perceived him to be anti-establishment and believed the establishment was the cause of their problems (in part it was, but only in part). The fact that Trump was a pathological liar3, lacking any semblance of morality, a malignant narcissist4, and a product of the system that they believe buggered their lives, did not seem to register with them.

The two with whom I was having the discussion, were generally supportive of the Convoy to Canberra protesters despite the disparate nature of the latter and the targets of their protest5. A recent story in the satirical website The Shovel says much, wherein a Canberra Convoy protester demanded the government tell him what he is protesting about6. While it satirises these people, it is not too wide of the mark. It almost seems to be a case of ‘whatever it is, I’m against it’. If only they knew how ridiculous they appear.

Sources

  1. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/research/vaccine-types
  2. https://blotreport.com/2017/01/15/uneducated-voted-for-trump/
  3. https://blotreport.com/2017/01/22/liar-trump/
  4. https://blotreport.com/2021/01/06/in-the-fuhrerbunker/
  5. https://blotreport.com/2022/02/14/epic-gullibility/
  6. https://www.theshovel.com.au/2022/02/12/protester-demands-to-know-what-he-protesting-about/

8 Comments

  • Arthur Baker says:

    The question is, really, do we need to convert antivaxxers to our way of thinking? Do the epidemiologist and virologist experts say that we need more people to be vaccinated, for the safety of all, or not. I don’t know.

    If we don’t, then there’s really no point bothering about what they think, stupid as they are. But if we do need to persuade them, then the whole situation changes. And abusing them with terms such as “too ignorant to know how ignorant they are” is not going to advance our cause. Rather, it will disadvanatge us. If we nee these people to be onside and get vaccinated, we are going to have to talk to them in a more understanding way.

    Googling “how to talk to an antivaxxer” throws up a lot of hits. Some are from scientists, some from psychologists, academics. Here’s one which is not. It’s VOGUE magazine. Yep, A fashion mag. I highlight it because it recommends almost exactly what the experts say. Take a look: https://www.vogue.co.uk/news/article/how-to-talk-to-anti-vaxxers

    I recommend reading the whole article, just as I recommend reading the suggestions of the experts in the field, but here are their eight suggestions:

    1) Don’t be judgmental
    2) Hear their concerns
    3) Counter misinformation – gently
    4) Signpost them to appropriate resources
    5) Understand that facts only go so far
    6) Be positive about vaccination
    7) Read up on the vaccination approval process
    8) Know when to give up

    That’s it. Do we need them to be converted and get vaccinated, for OUR safety, or not. If we don’t, forget them. If we do, start being polite and not abusing them.

    • admin says:

      Arthur,
      I have tried to talk to these people, often by trying to engage them in a real conversation, but those to whom I have spoken have told me that I am a sheep; I don’t know what I am talking about; I am a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry; and I am a criminal and should be in gaol. Broadly, there are two groups here, I suspect. Those who are afraid of needles and those who are antivaxxers. I have not yet met anyone who is simply afraid of needles, although I have seen reference to people who are. In your eight points, I have tried listening to their concerns (2); all are bogus. I have tried countering their misinformation by simply pointing them to relevant websites (3,4); I have either been ignored or abused as being a lobbyist or a sheep. Providing them with facts (5) simply engenders a similar sort of response as for 3 and 4. Being positive about vaccination again engenders the same sort of response as for 3, 4 and 5. Number 7 is an odd thing to include as it does not relate to engagement. I have read up on it as there are numerous websites explaining it to preciesely these people who we are all trying to ‘convert’. I have given up because I have tried and failed. Now I have resorted to ridicule. It is personal for me; a cousin of mine is married to an antivaxxer and if anything happens to her, I will be after him.

      • Arthur Baker says:

        Thanks for all that, but I notice you haven’t addressed the first question – do we need to talk to them or not? Either we need them to get vaccinated in order to better protect ourselves, or not. I haven’t researched this, yet. I need expert opinion on this and don’t know where to find it.

        If we don’t need them to get vaccinated, we can entirely ignore them, just as there are other cohorts of whackjobs whose idiocies don’t concern or threaten us. Then all your concerns would magically disappear. Wouldn’t the logical course of action be to firstly find out whether their vaccination status is relevant to our ongoing health or not? That could save us a whole lot of angst, it seems to me.

        • admin says:

          Arthur,
          While Covid-19m is a vastly different virus, having about 95% of the population vaccinated for Measles effectively prevents any outbreaks of consequence (except for those who contract it). I don’t know whether we need to convert most or all of them. I suspect not, as long as we are vaccinated as much as required, we will be OK. I know some people who have been triple-vaxxed and have contracted Covid-19; one in their 70s and several in their 30s, and all experienced very mild flu-like symptoms. If some conspiracy theorists think vaccination is all designed to control their minds or their sex lives, I will only giggle in disbelief as they wheel them into hospital.

  • Jon says:

    There’s a huge amount of info regarding the need for very high vax levels Arthur. A few off the top of my head follow. Remember though that these are generalisations/aggregations and medical science can not yet determine who, how and why individuals will react to the virus. In the UK studies have shown that some individuals in a home get covid once or more while others appear totally immune. Since we don’t know what new variants will do, who, how, and how many people will seriously infected then there is an obvious need for caution and even higher vax rates.
    (1) vaccination significantly reduces the statistical possibility of someone dying from covid or needing hospital care. Ergo the overloads on systems and health workers (and costs) are unnecessarily high. This is intolerable imo. The question, as ever, is – where should we draw the line?
    (2) unvaccinated people are statistically massively overrepresented (about 8x) in hospitalisation and mortality rates. Numbers vary according to country, for a range of reasons.
    (3) the viral load in vaccinated people who contract covid-19 is lower and reduces far more quickly than in unvaxxed people. Hence it is likely that vaxxed people are significsntly less likely to transmit the disease to casual contacts.
    (4) the effects of long-covid on personal and public health are as yet undetermined. Given that triple vaccination greatly reduces the chances of serious infection then it appears obvious that unvaxxed people are much more likely to suffer long-covid and be a continuing strain on health resources.

    An interesting question which might never be answered is this: are unvaxxed people less likely to be responsible in their personal health mgt (eg wear masks, sanitise, isolate with covid, tell others if they’re infected etc), less likely to care about the welfare of others, and more risky in their public behaviour? Gut feeling based on reading thousand of comments suggests YES, YES and MAYBE to me, but there are a lot of things at play. Wrt risky behaviour it’s quite possible that vaxxed people will feel safer hence not take the care they would normally. It’s also possible that covid fatigue combined with the added security of triple vaccination might make vaxxed people more careless in their interactions than unvaxxed people.

    Nothing is set in stone wrt covid-19. That said there’s a HUGE amount of credible information out there which discusses almost every covid-related topic you can think of. Compose a question and type it into google and off you go.

  • Jon says:

    Virus mutations are also more likely to happen in unvaccinated communities. Not a significant problem in countries with high vax rates? Think again. If a variant emerges from almost anywhere across the globe there is a good chance it will find its way outside the “host” region. Just one of a multitude of articles on the topic, which is complex as you’d expect.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2021/07/03/health/unvaccinated-variant-factories/index.html

    • admin says:

      Jon,
      It used to be thought (by whom, I don’t know) that viruses as they evolve would become more transmissible but less deadly. I have recently heard that refuted. I suspect the previous perception may be why the white flag has been raised here and elsewhere as the Omicron variant went berserk throughout the world. It is sobering to realise that since January 8 this year, more Australians have died from Covid-19 than in the previous 2 years of the pandemic.
      https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/australia/

    • Arthur Baker says:

      Thanks Jon for your helpful suggestions. It seems, on balance, that we might need to persuade a few more recalcitrant antivaxxers to countenance a change of mind. There will always be some who really, really won’t. But there will be others who will. The latter, we can deal with, and perhaps persuade some. But I would suggest that abusing them and calling them idiots to their faces is unlikely to get us anywhere.

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