It’s a world-wide pandemic of brain-eating parasites

Driftglass gives a pithy summary of the American variant.

…like any other cult, Republicans have conditioned themselves not to respond to external realities any more. Public embarrassment doesn’t work because Republicans have killed the part of their human souls that is capable of being embarrassed. Bringing down a hellfire of facts and figures doesn’t work because they simply will not recognize facts or figures from non-cult members as legitimate. Same for appeals to reason, to history or to basic human decency. Hell, citing their own words back to them from five minutes ago when their cult believed the exact opposite of what they believe now will elicit nothing more than a cow-dumb stare, followed by a smirk because, Bwhahahah!, they just owned you snowflake.

But then I see their analogs everywhere: the doltish Brexiteers, Fraser Anning and his gang of thugs, and I’m willing to bet we can find similar examples in the non-English speaking world. And then there are the anti-vaxxers, who may not be Republican at all, but who see the slow painful deaths of their own children as a triumph. It’s the Zombie Apocalypse, and it has crept up on us unawares. Only we don’t get the easy out of shooting them in the head, because they’re still human.


  1. F.O. says

    I might be wrong. I might be the one inside a cult.
    The only certainty is that at best half of humanity is immune to reality even when it concerns our own direct self interest.
    We’re fucked and we deserve it.
    I feel utterly hopeless.

  2. davidnangle says

    We could possibly be saved by an adult version of the Tide Pod Challenge. Or the Cinnamon Challenge. Something so appealing to the right wing mind, and invariably lethal. Something which we will try to educate them against, which will drive them further along in search of liberal tears. Facts, statistics, video evidence, and the evidence of their own eyes will mean nothing to them. They will continue until they are all dead.

    Preferably, it’s something that doesn’t involve an AR-15s and good people.

  3. larrylyons says

    Actually the research suggests that there is a moderate correlation between anti-vax attitudes and endorsing conservative ideology. However it seems to be moderated by conspiracy thinking, such that liberals moderates and center right tend to be generally pro vaccine, but those on the right who are into conspiracies are very strongly against vaccinations.

    In other words, more evidence that intelligence and right wing nuttery are negatively related.

  4. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    David Nagle: 3 possibilities
    1) Lots more fentanyl and a lot less Naloxone–unfortunately, that’s proving to be less selective than we’d hoped–maybe we can start handing them out at NASCAR races and WWE matches.
    2) A friend hopes to persuade the cult that the rapture is coming, but the only place where people will actually be saved is at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. We plan to build special submarines with hulls reinforced by the power of faith–3 mils of aluminum ought to do the trick.
    3) My wife has the most optimistic take–she hopes that climate change will take out humans before we make the planet uninhabitable for decent species.

  5. blf says

    Actually the research suggests that there is a moderate correlation between anti-vax attitudes and endorsing conservative ideology.

    Citation desired, please. You could very well be correct, but my own recollection is vaccine hesitancy (as opposed to vaccine rejection) is somewhat unusual in that it doesn’t clearly correlate with any particular political or religious beliefs (with the possible(? probable?) exception of some cults), nor with any social-economic indicators.†

    However, I vaguely — very vaguely! — recall a correlation between vaccine rejection (the diehard anti-vaxxers) and both political extremes (which suggests, to me, perhaps also a correlation with conspiracy-thinking?). I could easily be misremembering / misinterpreting on any or even all of these points…

    Apologies for my own lack of references, I’m admittedly working off of rather old memory.

      † The Somali(?) immigrants in Minnesota(?) are not an exception: They were infiltrated and tricked by diehard vaccination rejectionists.

  6. says

    Major cognitive dissonance here after reading the Sean Ferris post just above. Implying that “shooting them in the head” might be a solution is, for me, uncomfortably close to gloating over a shooting that has occurred.

  7. monad says

    @1 F.O.: Here things like global warming and evolution are helpful. On some level, no, I can’t say it’s not me who’s brainwashed into thinking that for instance poor people don’t deserve to go bankrupt and die from easily treatable illnesses. But there are lots of cases where external evidence can be consulted, and on those, it’s pretty consistent who is ignoring reality.
    (Also, the whole bit about “their words from five minutes ago”.)

  8. davidnangle says

    monad, it’s worse than “five minute ago.” Wasn’t it Newt that said, “If you quote what I’m about to say, you’re a liar”?

    That makes them willing to disagree with their future selves by their future, future selves.

  9. unclefrogy says

    my intuition or gut thinks there is some important relationship of this kind reaction by people and belief and the changing understanding of reality. The gods are not interceding on their behalf their beliefs are increasingly in conflict with reality as science reveals its less obvious nature. So they retreat into more extreme belief and out of the fear of what they do not understand any more feel the need to act and adopt some simple explanation without that they hope will fix every thing and prevent the feared from happening are trying to force their perceived beliefs,desires on to reality. it is a kind of panic reaction.
    uncle frogy

  10. DonDueed says

    The new reality seems to be thus: whatever doesn’t kill you makes you shittier.

  11. lochaber says

    I don’t have anything to cite, but I’m under the impression that most of the laws recently pushed forward that are favorable to anti-vaxxers were done so by Republican legislators. Off the top of my head, I want to say Oregon, Texas, and Arizona, but I’m not certain…

  12. blf says

    I’m under the impression that most of the laws recently pushed forward that are favorable to anti-vaxxers were done so by Republican legislators.

    I also have that impression — but no idea if it is true or not…

    However, that brings up the important distinction between being vaccine hesitant and vaccine rejection. Vaccine hesitant people are typically parents of a new baby or young child who have “done some research” and been misled by anti-vax claims; as a result, they lean towards not having their child vaccinated. However, they are not committed anti-vaxxers; evidence for this is a extremely effective technique is making it difficult-to-impossible to obtain a “personal belief exemption”. As one example, if the threshold for obtaining such an exemption is to visit the local Public Health Agency and sit for a personal interview, the rate of vaccination improves substantially. One reason this is effective, beside hassle, is the child cannot attend school (neither public nor, usually(?), private) unless vaccinated (or has an exemption (ideally, only for legitimate medical reasons)).

    However, vaccination rejection — people who will not vaccinate and (almost) never change their minds on the subject — see hard-or-impossible to obtain personal exemptions, and also requirements for vaccination to attend school, as infringing on their “personal freedoms”, yadda yadda. Which is where, at least in part, teh thugs (Republicans) get involved, it’s like a dog-whistle. Public welfare be damned, little bitty baby and their parents are having their “rights” trampled on!

    Of course the current thugs are notoriously anti-science / -evidence and so on, so it is indeed possible there is a significant or disproportionate collection of vaccine rejection festering in that slimepit. But, as far as I can (now) recall, vaccine hesitancy doesn’t correlate with political beliefs &tc…

    (From memory, there’s only two states in the States which do not allow personal exemptions, and both are usually seen as very conservative — W.Virginia and Mississippi, if memory serves me right. California, in contrast, was, until recently, fairly permissive about personal belief exemptions; it cracked down after the Disneyland outbreak and made them more difficult to get — a doctor’s note is now needed, as I recall — which seems to be working, last I heard.)

  13. Onamission5 says

    North Carolina is one of the states which does not allow for a personal belief exemption, however, their religious exemption is broad enough that a dedicated anti-vaxxer could potentially circumvent the law with a persuasive enough claim to “bona fide religious beliefs.” No definition of such is provided.

  14. blf says

    Heh. I didn’t realise a “religious exemption” wasn’t considered a “personal belief exemption” — since when is religion not a personal belief? — and so was including religion as one reason someone might (try to) get a “personal belief exemption”.

    According to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, in the States “all states except for California, West Virginia, and Mississippi allow religious exemptions, while eighteen states allow parents to cite personal, conscientious, philosophical, or other objections.” There’s full details at the cited link, States With Religious and Philosophical Exemptions From School Immunization Requirements, including a map. It also indicates the correct terms are “philosophical exemption” and “religious exemption” (and not the “personal belief exemption” I used), perhaps explaining the confusion.

    In any case, the point I was making, both W.Virginia and Mississippi, both generally considered conservative states, are pretty hard-nosed about exemptions. Only those two, plus (since 2015) California, are listed as “no” for both kinds of exemptions. All three states stand out on an otherwise rather depressing map.

  15. blf says

    Apologies for returning yet again to this anti-vax nonsense correlates to what semi-derail, but a post yesterday by Orac discusses this very topic, Chad Hermann and Todd Wolynn: On the nature of the antivaccine movement and lighting the signal fires of Gondor. Although Orac doesn’t say one way or the other, it’s very likely the Hermann & Wolynn study he is discussing is largely about vaccination rejectionists — vaccine hesitant people seem very unlikely to, e.g., participate in organised online harassment of pro-vaccine individuals, groups, and clinics. (The people who were studied did precisely that.)

    A relevant excerpt:

    [… T]he authors of the current study made a rather unsurprising observation as well:

    The majority of individuals for whom political affiliation could be determined (28%, n = 55) identified as supporters of Donald Trump (56%, n = 31), a conservative and the 2016 Republican nominee for President. This was followed by supporters of Bernie Sanders (11%, n = 6), a contender in the 2016 Democratic primary and a self-described democratic socialist.

    [… A]lthough the prevalence of antivaccine beliefs is roughly the same on the left and the right, of late the Republican Party of late has become the favored home of antivaxers, which is why this finding did not surprise me in the least. At its core, antivaccine beliefs are based on conspiracy theories; so it’s almost a “well, duh” finding that Donald Trump supporters would be overrepresented in Facebook antivaxers. [And Donald Trump has a long, sordid history of spewing antivaccine conspiracy theories dating back at least to 2007.]

    So vaccine rejectionists seem indeed to tend to lean wingnut / nazi, but they are also noticeable around the other extreme; The thugs are significantly involved in anti-vax shite; and Conspiracy-thinking is very probably another correlating factor.

  16. paulparnell says

    I think on the left anti-vax is driven by distrust of corporations while on the right it is driven by distrust of government. But because anti-vaxers are so easily lead they are destined to shift to the right over time.