When compliance becomes a synonym for open-mindedness…


This study is mostly unsurprising, except for the absence of an effect of political ideology. People who don’t comply with COVID health measures tend to be close-minded, or maybe people who are already conspiracy theorists, ready to twist the evidence to fit their preconceptions, are more likely to reject health recommendations. I don’t know which way the arrow of causality goes.

Closed-minded individuals were less likely to adhere to COVID-19 preventive behaviors, such as physical distancing, according to new research that examined data collected from 17 countries. The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, provides evidence that analytic thinking styles were more important than political ideology in predicting behaviors during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study was multinational and involved over 12,000 participants, which was good, but also relied on self-assessment (everyone claims to be open-minded!) modulated by a questionnaire to drill down into actual attitudes.

The researchers found open-mindedness was a substantially stronger predictor of adherence to COVID-19 preventive behaviors than political orientation. Those who agreed with statements such as “If I do not know much about some topic, I don’t mind being taught about it, even if I know about other topics” were more likely to report avoiding physical contact with others, maintaining physical hygiene, and supporting COVID-19 restrictive mitigation policies. In contrast, those who agreed with statements such as “I think that paying attention to people who disagree with me is a waste of time” were less likely to adhere to COVID-19 preventive behaviors.

On the other hand, we have to balance open-mindedness and credulity. I’d say I’m fairly open-minded (unreliable self-assessment again), but is compliance a good aspect of open-mindedness? I’d also like to say I’m usually going to follow CDC recommendations…except that now the CDC is being political and ideological.

In late February, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled a new Covid-19 monitoring system based on what they call “Community Levels.” By downplaying the importance of Sars-CoV-2 transmission, the new system instantly turned what was a pandemic map still red from Omicron transmission to green – creating the false impression that the pandemic is over.

Released four days before the State of the Union, the new CDC measures and the narrative they created let President Biden claim victory over the virus via sleight of hand: a switch from standard reporting of community transmissions to measures of risk based largely on contentious hospital-based metrics. The previous guidelines called anything over 50 cases per 100,000 people “substantial or high.” Now, they say 200 cases per 100,000 is “low” as long as hospitalizations are also low.

The resulting shift from a red map to a green one reflected no real reduction in transmission risk. It was a resort to rhetoric: an effort to craft a success story that would explain away hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths and the continued threat the virus poses.

The CDC has been captured by capitalism. The US government is also not following the science.

Some claim that the White House and the CDC are “following the science” and doing the best they can in these times. But if the goal is to prevent infection and suffering, the updated recommendations do not align with science or equity. It’s more accurate to say they’re following the money. They’ve put the desires of corporate America above the needs of our people, and especially our most vulnerable.

Am I close-minded if I don’t comply, in this case?

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    I know Biden is the lesser evil than the orange ogre. But I have zero respect for the old fucker.

  2. raven says

    Is being closed minded a cause or an effect?

    What I’ve noticed about the antivaxxers.

    .1. They are almost all fundie xians.
    “The blood of jesus is my vaccine.” (You can get this on a T-shirt. The back side says, “I’m a dead person walking.”

    .2. They almost never change their mind, no matter how sick they get. Antivaxxers will watch multiple family members die from the Covid-19 virus and will still be antivaxxers.
    I saw one case where a woman ended up in the ICU.
    Survived that.
    Went home and started posting antivaxxer memes again.
    Dropped dead, most likely from a blood clot, a known aftereffect of Covid-19 infection.

    .3. They tend to be low IQ, low education, low socio-economic status people. The well educated and/or wealthy have too much to lose to not get vaccinated.
    They have better things to do with their time than lie in their Freedom Box forever.

  3. raven says

    The CDC has been captured by capitalism. The US government is also not following the science.

    The CDC has been barely functional all through this pandemic.
    It is clear it has been hollowed out as an institution.

    They’ve sort of pulled themselves together but are still just a shadow of what they once were. A lot of the heavy lifting ended up being done by Fauci and NIAID instead.

  4. torcuato says

    I read this post and all I see is PZ’s own personal biases regarding the pandemic.
    The CDC used to be reliable? Remember Rochelle Walensky declaring “impending doom” in March 2021, only to see cases plummet for several months, until the delta variant took over in the Fall?
    As for The Guardian article, remember the Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020? “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.” Those epidemiologists were crooks, right?
    But now we get “We’re epidemiologists, nurses and physicians, artists and biologists. We have come together with a common anger at the US government’s handling of Covid”, and these epidemiologists are to be trusted as the Gods of Science Followers.
    And let’s not even get started with “The goal is to prevent infection and suffering”. Anyone wants to talk about all the suffering caused by two years of lockdowns, restrictions, work-from-home, etc.?

  5. says

    Just makes me so furious that governments have just let Omicron run rampant through populations while it still killed so many people, and left who knows how many people with Long COVID. Once they learned that it didn’t hospitalize or kill the same proportion of people that Delta did, the floodgates were opened in so many places. Many hospitals ended up still overwhelmed because just so many damn people got sick at once and hundreds of thousands of people died too. We were getting like a 9/11 of dead people every day for a month or two there.

  6. raven says

    Torcuato the gibbering idiot:

    And let’s not even get started with “The goal is to prevent infection and suffering”. Anyone wants to talk about all the suffering caused by two years of lockdowns, restrictions, work-from-home, etc.?

    Quite a load of stupid there. Every sentence is wrong. You are cosmically stupid.

    Sure, I’ll talk about all the “suffering caused by two years of lockdowns, restrictions, work-from-home, etc.? Well, hmmm, I can’t think of much in the way of suffering. I was slightly inconvenienced here and there. I had a hard time early on finding a tie dyed mask that matched my outfits.

    Now, lets talk about the benefits.
    I’ve still alive. Healthy, for my age. Never got the virus. Made it to the vaccine stage and am triple vaxxed.

    Unlike a large number of people I know who are either dead or long haulers.
    One of my friends had to visit her daughter in Florida over the Xmas holiday.
    She got Covid-19 virus and lost parts of both lower limbs. She is learning how to walk on artificial feet. She says it is harder than it looks.
    The latest is a 74 year old antivaxxer who got the virus, was sick but not that sick. He recovered except his kidneys died. He went from Stage 0 kidney disease to dialysis in a month.
    My antivaxxer neighbor decided the pandemic is over with and he didn’t have to be careful any more. He is now…dead. His wife was vaccinated. Nothing happened to her except she is a widow.

  7. says

    The drooling xtian terrorists are all very ‘compliant’ with their cults, yet not ‘open-minded’ to logical analytical thinking:
    https://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2022/04/04
    And, with the massive undercounts of deaths and cases mandated by state and federal gevernment, all to aid capitalism’s ‘we gotta get you all back to work’ to further increase big businesses’ already obscene profits, the populace is doomed.
    My organizationwill not commit suicide, nor allow the imbecilic masses to murder us. We will continue to mask and distance and be carefully vaccinated until all the miscreants are dead

  8. PaulBC says

    torcuato@4

    And let’s not even get started with “The goal is to prevent infection and suffering”. Anyone wants to talk about all the suffering caused by two years of lockdowns, restrictions, work-from-home, etc.?

    Sure. Tell me how much you suffered. My kids continued high school uninterrupted over Zoom. My son graduated in 2021 and is doing well in college. I had an especially productive working year, at least at the beginning of the pandemic when we had to adapt to increase internet traffic. My wife and I developed more efficient shopping practices. We’re back to weekly Costco trips now, but every two weeks was working just fine.

    I know I’m fortunate in terms of my type of job and socioeconomic status. Also I am happy my kids were old enough to benefit from remote education. But I suspect a lot of people whining about “hardship” have the same advantages I have, and simply lack an ability to adapt or see a silver lining.

  9. raven says

    Torcuato the idiot:

    As for The Guardian article, remember the Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020?

    Cthulhu you are stupid.

    I barely remember it. It was trash back then, it is trash now, and everyone long ago moved on. You do realize this is April 04, 2022. I had to look it up since it long ago became ancient history tossed in the trash can.

    Wikipedia

    It claimed harmful COVID-19 lockdowns could be avoided, advocating instead the pseudoscientific notion of “focused protection”, by which those most at risk could purportedly be kept safe while society otherwise continued functioning normally, achieving herd immunity in three months as the virus swept through.[1][2][3] Authored by Sunetra Gupta of the University of Oxford, Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford University, and Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, it was drafted at the American Institute for Economic Research in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and signed there on 4 October 2020.[4] The document makes no mention of physical distancing, masks, contact tracing,[5] or long COVID, which has left patients suffering from debilitating symptoms months after the initial infection.[6][7]

    It was a stupid document by a small number of right wingnut quacks.

    They had no idea what they were talking about and everyone just ignored it and got on with the real job of fighting the pandemic.

  10. Walter Solomon says

    I have come to expect nothing but lies, deception, the devaluing of lives, and obeisance to capitalist interests in this two-party system. The fact that we’re tasked with deciding which is the lesser of two evils is proof enough we need more than two choices. More importantly, we need a choice that values human life over a “good economy.”

  11. PaulBC says

    raven@9 There was an amazing amount of balderdash published in the early stages of the pandemic as I’m sure you’re aware (not that it ever dropped off, though it switched gears). I wasn’t even looking for this one from the Hoover Institution, but it is among other things a “dissenting voice” on pessimistic predictions of one million deaths

    The model here projects a slow takeoff, a sharp rise, and an equally dramatic decline, with a huge cumulative total of deaths. The authors allow that if moderate precautions are taken, these totals might be reduced by about half. The key assumption of this model is a replication rate of 2.3, whereby each person who is infected then infects two others, seemingly without end. But the model does not [blah, blah, blah…]

    And yet here we are, 1,008,198 US deaths later according to Worldometers. I don’t think those models even projected the development of an effective vaccine, so they were too optimistic within their own parameters.

    But I got sidetracked. The “best” thing out of the Hoover Institution, hands down, was Victor Davis Hanson (military historian and epidemiologist) thinkthanksplaining how California may already have gained herd immunity by early 2020… ’cause China! That one is surely deep in the memory hole for most people. It’d be nice if these idiots actually had to live with their idiocy instead of just moving on the the next “big idea.” (Sorry for the link to National Review, but that is the closest I can find to a primary source.)

  12. raven says

    More importantly, we need a choice that values human life over a “good economy.”

    To state the obvious, you can’t have a “good economy” when people all around you are sick and dying from a sometimes fatal pandemic virus.
    This is a false choice.

    Even without all the de jure lockdowns, most people stayed home and avoided crowds anyway when the virus cases were high. The economies of the Red states without lockdowns and mandates didn’t do any better than the Blue states. You don’t need the government telling you to be careful if you want to stay alive.

    The Red states hospital and death rates ended up being a lot higher than the Blue states however. Any money they made by staying open was spent in overcrowded hospitals, refrigerated trucks to hold the excesss dead bodies, numerous funerals, and of course, all the shattered families and 200,000 orphaned children.
    Being sick and dead has costs too.

  13. PaulBC says

    Walter Solomon@10 “Good economy” means different things to different people (aside from what it may mean to economists). Corporations enjoying increased profits while producing no new benefits to consumers is not “good” though it may seem so to those who benefit. An economy in which labor demand has increased to the point of putting positive pressure on wages would be good by anyone’s standards… but no… wait, that is what the same “cure worse than the disease” crowd has been complaining about ever since the economy got back on its feet.

    The people who claim to prioritize the “economy” in some very rational mature non-sentimental way are almost never the ones who actually want a good economy. They want one that serves them preferentially.

  14. garnetstar says

    I don’t think that the CDC’s main goal is necessarily to prevent infections: I think that they’ve given up on that. Clearly a sizable portion of the US population, about 25%, is not going to vax, mask, or distance, and so they are going to get infected and spread it in their communities. Nothing can be done about them.

    The goal now seems to be keeping people from getting ill enough to be hospitalized and not overwheleming health care facilities. Triple (or quadruple) vaxxing is still recommended, along with masking and distancing to protect oneself when the virus is high in your community. That seems to be the goal of the new count: protecting those of us who do vax, from the refusers in our own communities. Not preventing or minimizing illness nationwide, which is impossible due to the close-minded.

  15. says

    Is it bad that there is one side effect of all this that has a small glimmer. I don’t want anyone to die, but COVID deaths seem to possibly be altering closely run areas from red to purple or blue because it tends to be the old religious fundies who won’t get vaccinated.

    I am so saddened by those immunocompromised and angry, but I don’t feel bad for the deaths of those who follow the Cheeto. I don’t want them to die, but their deaths makes people like me a little morel likely to live.

  16. KG says

    As for The Guardian article, remember the Great Barrington Declaration of October 2020? “As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.” Those epidemiologists were crooks, right? – torcuato@4

    Callous, dishonest and irresponsible rightwing ideologues (“libertarians”) rather than crooks, if you want to make fine distinctions. Note that the “Declaration” was drafted at The American Institute for Economic Research, which has policy positions such as those described here:

    AIER statements and publications portray the risks of climate change as minor and manageable, with titles such as “What Greta Thunberg Forgets About Climate Change”, “The Real Reason Nobody Takes Environmental Activists Seriously” and “Brazilians Should Keep Slashing Their Rainforest”.

    The institution has also funded research on the comparative benefits that sweatshops supplying multinationals bring to the people working in them.

  17. whheydt says

    Re: turcuato @ #4…
    “Work from home” was so “unpopular” that corporations are having a hard time getting their employees to come back into the offices. Some are quitting and looking for work where WFH is accepted by the employer. Some employers, seeing the handwriting on the wall, are making major reductions in leased office space while allowing WFH (and saving a bundle in office lease costs while they’re at it).

    Kind of rough on companies that make their money by leasing out office space…but you can’t make omelets without breaking eggs.

  18. Walter Solomon says

    raven @12

    To state the obvious, you can’t have a “good economy” when people all around you are sick and dying from a sometimes fatal pandemic virus.
    This is a false choice.

    Tell that to our elected leaders including the Head Dinosaur in Charge.

    PaulBC @13

    An economy in which labor demand has increased to the point of putting positive pressure on wages would be good by anyone’s standards… but no… wait, that is what the same “cure worse than the disease” crowd has been complaining about ever since the economy got back on its feet.

    I could say I’ve stopped listening to that crowd but that woukd be a lie. The truth is I’ve never once listened to them, ever. I dismissed everything they had to say out of hand.

  19. chrislawson says

    raven@2–

    I usually agree with the things you say but…

    (1) Antivaxxers are not predominantly conservative evangelicals.
    (2) Antivaxxers are not low intelligence and/or poorly educated (except on the specific subject of vaccines and public health).

    The sociology of anti-vax sentiment has been studied extensively: it cuts across political lines. There are as many left-wing and centrist antivaxxers as conservatives. And antivaxism used to be more common amongst the university educated — usually those without a health qualification who thought their intelligence on an unrelated subject made them capable of opining on vaccinations despite not understanding a damn thing about them. I’m not aware of more recent research, but it’s possible there has been an uptake of antivax idiocy among the less educated because they are now being directly fed these lies by socipaths in social media and the murdoch empire. But my own experience as a doctor has been that the huge upswing in antivax sentiment due to COVID misinformation has little bearing on intelligence or education. Some of the smartest, most educated people I know have turned into lumpenirrationalists. It’s about emotions, not intelligence. My working life has borne a terrible resemblance to Ionesco’s Rhinoceros (except in extent — it’s not like everyone is turning into a rhinoceros).

    Note that none of this applies to the “vaccine hesitant” — those fearful because a friend or relative has dumped their paranoid fantasies on them. The vaccine hesitant will usually come around if you take the time to talk them through the evidence.

    (3) I agree with you here. There is something about antivax mentality that means only a handful ever change their minds, no matter how overwhelming the evidence against them — including having family members die of vaccine-preventable diseases. This is not hyperbole. I have seen it directly.

  20. raven says

    Here in the US, the latest antivaxxers are mostly right wingnuts which is the stronghold of the fundie xians. We all see it often but there is even data on this.

    The usual expected antivaxxers aren’t antivaxxers. Here is what the local Pagans and Wiccans say.
    Covenant of the Goddess (Wiccan)
    She said that most members report that they have been vaccinated.

    The Troth
    She said, “The Troth has strongly supported public health recommendations, including vaccinations, to prevent the spread of all diseases, including COVID 19.

    Aquarian Tabernacle Church
    The ATC has encouraged its members to get vaccinated.
    All the Pagans and Wiccans I’ve seen have been open about supporting vaccines and other public health measures.

    Unvaccinated Adults are Now More Than Three Times as Likely to Lean Republican than Democratic
    Analysis Finds Partisanship Matters More than Age, Race, Education or Insurance Status in Predicting Whether Someone Received a COVID-19 Vaccine Published: Nov 16, 2021 Kaiser.org.

    GOP antivaxxers outnumber Democratic party antivaxxers 3 to 1.
    It is 60% GOP to 17% Democratic.

  21. raven says

    UNTANGLING DISINFORMATION
    Pro-Trump counties now have far higher COVID death rates. Misinformation is to blame
    Updated December 5, 202110:27 AM ET Heard on Morning Edition npr DANIEL WOOD

    Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.

    In October, the reddest tenth of the country saw death rates that were six times higher than the bluest tenth, according to Charles Gaba, an independent health care analyst who’s been tracking partisanship trends during the pandemic and helped to review NPR’s methodology.

    The GOP/fundie xians have the deaths from the Covid-19 virus to show for their antivaxxer status.

    Red counties have 3 times the death rate of Blue counties.
    At times during the pandemic it has been as high as 6 times Blue counties.

    These differences are even more marked when you realize Red counties still have a lot of Blue voters and vice versa.

  22. says

    Seems likely that the CDC is making the correct choice there. We’re seeing increased infection rates in the UK too, but hospitalisation and death is significantly lower due to the combined effects of vaccination and the dominance of less severe viral strains. Infection data no longer presents the same level of risk as it did previously, so the reporting methods need to change to avoid inaccurate threat measurement.

    Whether or not any of that is politically motivated, I don’t know and nobody can say, but it seems perfectly justifiable as an apolitical decision.

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