Submitted by Aaron Arkin.
In H. G. Wells’ famous science fiction story, “War of the Worlds,” an advanced technological civilization from Mars is quickly winning a war against humans on Earth. Winning, that is, until they are felled, as Wells put it, by the lowliest of creatures: germs (perhaps even the common cold — a virus). Sound familiar?
Critiquing H. G. Wells’ story, it is fair to ask how a civilization so advanced and prepared for invasion, capable of transporting armies and equipment from one planet to another, still not foresee they might be exposed to pathogens their species were not equipped to handle. Was it hubris, compartmentalized thinking, a case of generals overruling scientists? Wells doesn’t say.
Meanwhile, on the non-fiction Earth where we live and have reached great heights of technological achievement, many of us in the US are succumbing to the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. Although we have gained the knowledge to successfully vaccinate ourselves against this pathogen, and can utilize other protective measures, millions have refused to take advantage. The result is that case counts, severe illness, and deaths are and will be increasing as the virus mutates into more transmissible and deadly variants. Unless behaviors change, this process will continue and likely increase societal dysfunction.
So, maybe Wells wasn’t really just describing Martians’ inability to realistically consider their prospects. Despite overwhelming evidence of safety and efficacy (after all, vaccine development is based on established science, there have been rigorous trials showing that for the vast majority of individuals these vaccines are safe, peer review has affirmed no shortcuts were taken in vaccine development or approval, and epidemiological evidence has clearly shown those most likely to get seriously ill and/or die are the unvaccinated), millions believe one or more of the following: the pandemic is a hoax, few people are affected, healthy people won’t get sick, vaccines don’t work and/or will make you sick, masking is an assault on individual liberty, the vaccine is a government ploy to put tracking devices into its citizens, and (to me the most pernicious and disturbing) people should be able to exercise their personal freedoms without regard for the safety of others.
One can only wonder how these ideas found so much rich soil. Is it willful ignorance, inability to think critically, lack of education, misguided self-interest, wishful thinking, refusal to be concerned for others, machismo, contrariness, fear, close-mindedness, paranoia, tribalism, something else? But as we witness these attributes leading to increasing societal friction and deteriorating societal norms, a very important question has been brought to the fore: can a democratic society, where individuals are free to take actions against their own interests, successfully compete or even survive against authoritarian societies that can both mandate and enforce policies without regard to individual choice?
Looks like we may be about to find out.
Joseph Boyle says
CM Lopez says
Well written and thoughtful.
K. R.. says
You are so right.
It just astounds me how utterly stupid people are.
And, yes we will. Maybe we should start a pool, like in football..one for counties in WA and the other for states.. “you make the call”, eh?
J boy says
I personally have been vaccinated but, I can see many causes that have lead people to be unsure and hesitant. This hesitant response to vaccines, has as one of its causes the conflicting information that was put out by so called experts. As that information kept changing it created a lack of trust in the various recommendation. The frequency of the change in recommendations was to a great extend caused by information being conveyed by politicians and news casters in stead of qualified medical experts. Some of the recommendations were treated with disdain by the media and big tech if they didn’t emanate from the politically approved sources. The result was the public confusion and mistrust that followed. Where there is mistrust and confusion people are prone to inaction. This may not be in their best interest but, sometimes this is what scared and confused people do.
aaron arkin says
Blaming the media and conflicting statements from the scientific community in part for the confusion surrounding vaccination and masking mandates is an idea that I think deserves further scrutiny. There were conflicting media statements; but that would include some of the right-wing press which was pushing disinformation and false narratives. And there were some scientists on the fringe making outrageous and clearly false assertions about vaccination and the efficacy of masking. And, the situation on the ground was changing as we learned new information and the virus was mutating into more aggressive variants.
But as I see it, the mainstream scientific community and reputable news outlets were clearly on message: bringing up the latest information as best they could determine it, citing reputable sources, acknowledging that there were valid scientific reasons for changing directives, admitting past errors, and logically presenting the arguments for their case.
Citizens are always faced with choices when it comes to figuring out whether what they are being told is factual. One hopes that they will be circumspect: looking at who is saying what, what are their sources or expertise, judging if the assertions are logical and internally consistent, and if they match up with what other reputable sources are saying, etc. It takes work: but doing that work is what is required from an informed citizenry. Taking opposing views as proof that nothing being asserted is valid, and then refusing to take any action, is at best intellectual laziness, at worst, willful ignorance.
I too am confused and very concerned about those refuse to get vaccinated for no reason other than sheer refusal to follow best practices. These are selfish people who have no societal conscience. They endanger others and are causing us to return to isolation and masking. They scream about their rights but aren’t concerned about the rights of civilization as a whole. These are the same people who deny climate change. Helping and caring for others is the basis of humanitarian pursuit. Shame on those who refuse vaccinations because they think their right supersede the rest of us. How dare you to continue to endanger first responders.
No one gets out of here alive says
What well-disguised disdain for the other. How can anyone believe differently than me?
I think most of the world wonders how Germany could have tilted towards Nazism? They were the a cultured, educated country, taken over by a madman right?
Now we see how easily man’s tendency towards tyranny and authoritarianism is just below the surface. Now we dress it up in ‘science’, ‘respect for others’, ‘the right thing to do’.
How about this as a thought experiment:
8 of 10 people hospitalized for COVID19 are overweight. Before anyone is capable of leaving their home, a government official comes by to measure one’s BMI. If you’re overweight, you’re restricted to a 500 calorie a day diet until your body fat is under 20%.
If you have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, any of the metabolic syndromes — same thing. You cannot leave. In fact, how about a 95% tax, because it is most likely that you’ll take up hospital beds. Not a single one of those conditions is congenital. All behaviorally influenced.
Israel has 80% vaccinated–and their COVID caseload is higher than any time during the pandemic. Their numbers are 40/60 vaccinated vs unvax.
I chose to get a vaccination, didn’t bother me. It laid my wife out for a week both times. Maybe we should have both just had someone with COVID cough in our faces..the natural immunity seems to be much better.
Instead of hiding your hatred of others, why don’t you just admit your fascistic tendencies outright? Australia is building ‘COVID camps’.
Stopping an airborne virus is like trying to stop the wind. COVID is here to stay. Get in shape. Take care of yourself. Take personal responsibility. Taking the vaccine does not make you responsible, especially if you have not improved your own health during this pandemic. Quit blaming others for their views.
This is ghastly. It has been my experience that when one points the finger of blame, there are 3 fingers pointing right back at oneself.
I’m curious if the author or those who responded with their fear-laden self-righteousness also labeled Trump an ‘authoritarian’. How ironic.
Talk to an ICU staff member.
Cowardice is not a virtue says
If one is vulnerable or obese, protect oneself. The data is clear. For the healthy, this is either a cold or non-symptomatic for the VAST majority.
How about we change the speed limit to 4? 1000s die in auto accidents annually. Shut down all ski resorts, stop all sporting activities, no more boating,…where does one stop?
No one gets out of here alive.