Their one true god is ignorance

Apparently, there’s a growing problem in the US.

Growing vaccine hesitancy is just a small part of a broader rejection of scientific expertise that could have consequences ranging from disease outbreaks to reduced funding for research that leads to new treatments. “The term ‘infodemic’ implies random junk, but that’s wrong,” said Peter Hotez, a vaccine researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. “This is an organized political movement, and the health and science sectors don’t know what to do.”

Yes, yes, yes, I agree, there is a terrible strain of motivated ignorance running rampant in the nation. I rather resent the idea that this is an emerging problem — it’s been around as long as I’ve been alive, and longer. The focus shifts is all. The current focus in this article on vaccine disinformation is a symptom of the same old arrogance that fueled the anti-evolution movement. The people who promoted that nonsense are now the same people pushing climate change denial and COVID conspiracy theories — they’ve just expanded their Bible colleges and built conservative think tanks that are somehow regarded as reasonable sources of opinion, and they’ve set themselves up in institutions like the Federalist Society that have acquired the authority to corrupt the fabric of our government.

Don’t even try to imply that this is something new. We’ve let the seeds of decay incubate for many decades. Now news stories deplore this situation on one hand, while on another, in other news stories from the same organizations, they’ll blandly cite the Heritage Foundation or the American Enterprise Institute or or the Cato Institute or, god help us, Republican Party figureheads as sources, never questioning ho they’re building up the reputations of these fallacious “authorities.” They don’t question. So when some Republican liar says a trivially recognizable lie, like the following, they just report it and don’t say what’s wrong with it.

As a result, many people felt betrayed when COVID vaccines only moderately reduced the risk of infection. “We were promised that the vaccine would stop transmission, only to find out that wasn’t completely true, and America noticed,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), chair of the Republican-led coronavirus subcommittee, at a July hearing.

No. No credible authority claims a vaccine will simply stop transmission with 100% certainty in its effectiveness. Brad Wenstrup is a liar and a fraud. Brad Wenstrup is an asshole. The media won’t say that, despite it’s truth, and so the infection spreads. Even in an article reporting on the deplorable state of critical thinking, a news source can’t bring itself to state the facts. They are still obligated to pander to the know-nothings who buy the crap they advertise.

They’ll never openly recognize the common fuel that drives this American problem: a fanatical religiosity. This problem will never go away as long as we continue to grant churches unwarranted privilege.


  1. raven says

    As a result, many people felt betrayed when COVID vaccines only moderately reduced the risk of infection.

    As PZ points out, this clown Rep. Brad Wenstrup is lying and ignorant.

    The Covid-19 vaccines were actually highly successful and a modern miracle of advanced biological sciences.

    .1. The number of US antivaxxers who refused the vaccine, caught the Covid-19 virus and died was around 330,000. It’s still happening today in the USA.
    .2. The number of US people whose lives were saved by the vaccines was around 3.2 million. That is a lot. I’m very likely to have been one of them.

    In Realityland, the Covid-19 virus vaccines were highly successful and are modern miracles of advanced biology and medicine.
    We were attacked by a novel virus and managed to come up with an effective vaccine within a year. In the recent past, this would have been impossible.
    It took us decades to get a vaccine for Ebola.

    We could have hoped that the vaccines worked better. In some cases, they don’t prevent infection but still prevent Long Covid problems and the all too common deaths in the ICU on ventilators.
    The immunity could have lasted longer than a year. I’ve already had 5 vaccinations myself, the last one in November.

    That is reality. Compared to the alternative, we would have expected 5.3 million dead Americans and maybe 33 million Long Covid patients.
    The dead has so far ended up around 1.4 million and many of them happened before the vaccines became available.

  2. raven says

    In my own area, I’ve seen two antivaxxers get Covid-19 virus and die from it, unnecessarily.
    There is a short path between the antivaxxer’s lies and ignorance and…ending up dead or permanently disabled.

    My idiot antivaxxer neighbor caught it and died a few weeks later.
    His wife was vaccinated. Nothing happened to her except she is now a widow.

    My friend’s father lives in a rural area full of right wingnuts. Not vaccinated.
    He caught the virus, was sick but not that sick. Except that the virus destroyed his kidneys.
    He went from normal kidney function to dialysis in a few weeks.
    He didn’t do well on dialysis and died within a year.

    I’ve seen more with various Long Covid problems.
    It is likely one of more of them will die a lot younger because of them.

  3. Athaic says

    As a result, many people felt betrayed when COVID vaccines only moderately reduced the risk of infection. “We were promised that the vaccine would stop transmission, only to find out that wasn’t completely true, and America noticed,”

    Some of the people who are now busy saying “we were betrayed” and other disparaging comments on vaccines were the ones saying “just one shot and we will be back to normal” two years ago. I think Prasad is among them.

  4. Hemidactylus says

    My initial expectation was for the vaccines to have knocked back the virus quite a bit more. People still got breakthrough infections. The transmission may have been reduced somewhat. But this virus evolves dramatically. The Omicron leap was huge, maybe through a rodent surrogate population.

    The upsetting part is that people stopped getting subsequent shots with updated antigen targets. The virus itself will update immune responses, though it would be better if this occurred against a backdrop of more vaccination uptake.

    Given however many people have been vaccinated and/or infected I guess herd immunity should have kicked in by now? Maybe there will be several years of coevolution between the virus and our collective immune responses for this to be a so-called cold, although the effects on the cardiovascular system due to targeting the ACE2 receptor are not cool. I don’t know how this compares to the prevalent HCoVs.

  5. stuffin says

    “Brad Wenstrup is a liar and a fraud. Brad Wenstrup is an asshole.

    The media won’t say that"

    The media has been giving credence to these frauds and assholes, that is the problem. They need to be fact checked or ignored as much as possible. These frauds and assholes rely on their untruths being mentally swallowed by the most ignorant of Americans, once that occurs it is impossible to get the correct information into their brains. These lower end humans enjoy feasting on lies and conspiracies, it bolsters their ignorance and makes them feel brilliant.

  6. Hemidactylus says

    From the link PZ provided in the OP:

    On Jan. 8 and 9, the group questioned Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease researcher who has advised both Republican and Democratic presidents. Without evidence, committee member Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) accused Fauci of supporting research that created the coronavirus in order to push vaccines: “He belongs in jail for that,” Greene, a vaccine skeptic, said. “This is like a, more of an evil version of science.”

    That’s what we’re up against. Pig ignorance.

  7. Jazzlet says

    stuffin @#5

    These lower end humans

    That’s right out of order. Most of the people who believe these things, like their parents and ancestors before them, have never been taught to think properly, and too often have the emotional maturity of adolescents, again because they haven’t been taught better. They can not reason their way out of false positions, are too tribal, and because they are emotionally immature thrive on intense emotion, but they are still as human and therefore as valuable as those who were lucky enough to get a good education and grow up. Yes it’s a societal problem, but not one solved by referring to them with insults, that just makes them less likely to listen to anything you say.

  8. says

    My initial expectation for the vaccines was that we’d see a range of responses. Compare measles, where the vaccine can give you nearly lifetime resistance, to the flu, where vaccines might give you a season of protection. I think all the smart people were well aware that immunity is not a binary response.

  9. says

    @7 Jazzlet

    Yes, I agree that there are a lot of adults in this country who have the emotional and intellectual maturity of a 13 year old. I went to school with a bunch of them. They had the same teachers I did, sat in the same rooms with the same equipment, and lived in the same neighborhoods. I would never call them “lower end humans”, but I wouldn’t just blame the schools, the teachers, and the like. Sure, a portion can be placed on their families/friends, but these folks are certainly not faultless.

  10. Dennis K says

    @7 Jazzlet — There’s no “less likely to listen.” There’s no listening at all. These so-called “unlucky but valuable” people have no interest in our sympathy and would happily throw us all in concentration camps (or just shoot us). Humanism isn’t working and the curtain is closing. Thanks to this celebrated ignorance (along with capitalism and climate change) we’re headed back to the jungle.

  11. outis says

    @5,7,9,10: I’d agree with you all, but intelligence is not the problem here. This part of the public, as jimf points out, has had the same chances as everyone else: they went to school, got their degrees and in some cases hold qualified jobs.
    What is missing is indeed maturity, stability, perspective or just plain ol’ common sense. There’s a visible tendency towards instant gratification, even in the case of the pandemic (not an occurrence where any kind of gratification is likely) and a lot of intolerance towards any kind of disagreement. Even reality is discounted and vilified, should it clash against their preferences and worldview.
    The problem with this kind of attitude? Reality always wins, that jerk.
    The fact that so many are unwilling to realize this is deeply worrying. Is it just me, or is it spreading like wildfire?

  12. stuffin says

    @#7 Jazzlet
    “that just makes them less likely to listen to anything you say.”

    I have tried to speak with these people many times, one is even a close relative, this upsets me as my father did not, would not tolerate such behavior. They are mentally stubborn and if something does not fit in their thought process they block or reject it. That is not a symptom of intelligence. Being open to new and different thoughts/ideas terrifies them. My comment was meant to be more about the politicians/leaders who prey on these types instead of providing them information which can be used to improve their lives.

    You can give all the rationales about supporting their refusal to better their way of thinking, but in the end, they remain on the bottom rung of intelligence because of their own conduct. They continuously refuse to upgrade their thought process. I believe it is not because they can’t, as you say, but because they refuse. Remaining ignorant makes them feel safe, they have no desire to change themselves for the better. They want a strong leader who will tell them what they want to hear, whether true or not. He/she will do this to make them feel safe and they will be comfortable not having to think for themselves. I do agree tribalism plays a role in their demeanor. And my perception of tribalism is rooted religious beliefs.

    I apologize if my comment (lower end humans) offended anyone and would look forward to a better description of those who are controlled by fear and will accept any nonsense spewed by their so-called leaders.

    I would also appreciate what methods could be employed to correct the issue of them “have never been taught to think properly.” From my interactions, this does not seem possible. Again, I refer this back the leaders who prey upon these folks.

  13. raven says

    I apologize if my comment (lower end humans) offended anyone and would look forward to a better description of those who are controlled by fear and will accept any nonsense spewed by their so-called leaders.

    Lower end humans isn’t very specific as a description. It comes across as more of an insult. It lacks details.

    I sometimes just call them what they are, reality deniers.

    I would also appreciate what methods could be employed to correct the issue of them “have never been taught to think properly.” From my interactions, this does not seem possible.

    Good question.

    AFAIK, no one knows how to get them to think objectively.

    We saw that with the Covid-19 virus deniers and antivaxxers, which have a lot of overlap.
    They would end up in the hospital very sick and many of them died.
    Most of them never changed their mind.

    .1. The Covid-19 virus deniers would try to rationalize why they couldn’t breathe. It was the flu, they had a sudden case of lung cancer, they suddenly came down with allergies and asthma.
    .2. Their living survivor relatives were even kookier.
    They would claim the hospital killed their clueless relative for money. Supposedly they get a bounty for everyone they killed and said it was Covid-19 virus.
    Which makes no sense.
    In more than a few cases, they ended up attacking the medical staff.

    It wasn’t a 100% though.
    A few of them realized in the end that instead of “owning the libs”, they were dying of a preventable disease and everyone thought they were idiots.

  14. wzrd1 says

    Oh, give them time, they’ll pin all of our woes on medicine and science.
    After all, we murdered God’s greatest gift to humanity, exterminated a form of life gifted to humanity by no less than the almighty, retaining some zoo specimens in freezers only.
    So, to cure all of our woes, we need to return God’s gift to the earth now. Bring back smallpox!
    Because, burying babies is a normal thing with humans, it teaches us that life is worthless and only duty to one’s lord of the manor matters, as that’s obeying the Lord’s will.
    Or some similar drivel.

    The wealthy will happily champion it, gets rid of the riff-raff. Then, they’ll bitch when the work force loses 35% of its membership to mass graves.

  15. imthegenieicandoanything says

    This overstates the problem of the fault being “American religiosity” by a very large margin.

    It’s not “religion” that’s the problem in the US, it’s racist nativism: these people are deeply racist and EMBARRASSED about it – unlike any generation before, who actually believed their racism had some scientific basis. Now that the US (and elsewhere) has been opened just a crack and exposed just a fraction of how the culture’s class/race/etc. system was always fake, the “traditional” fake-science. fake-rationale tropes have been exposed as the lies they always, intentionally, were.

    All that’s left to these self-hating, pitiful but dangerous failed human beings is to cling to a particularly stupid, virulent, often self-harming sort, casually group-defined (so that it’s undeniable, since no one ever is responsible for defining it clearly, even and especially to themselves) magical-thinking: “Whatever we say is reality is reality, despite the real reality.”

    They know – they really do! – that it’s all just lies, that the “best” they can do is, for example, what Hamas did last year and what Israel is continuing to do, since if they’re murdering others their sick ideas really MUST be important and their mealy-mouthed, lying claims MUST be real.

    What useless, sad sh-ts almost a third of homo sapiens are. And 99% of the locals are now in one political party here in the US.

    Thank goodness that, in their hearts, they want desperately to lose.

  16. raven says

    There has actually been a lot of research on who the antivaxxers are and why they are reality deniers. We don’t have to guess here. Here is one such study.

    Low education levels were one of the main reasons to be antivaxxers.

    New Research: Low Education Levels Strongly Tied to Being Unvaccinated, Major Contributor to Ongoing Hesitancy
    By Jo Napolitano January 25, 2022 edited for length

    As schools across the country struggle to keep their doors open amid the Omicron surge, researchers have found a strong correlation between the unvaccinated and low levels of education.

    It found more than half of unvaccinated American adults who reported strong hesitancy to the vaccine had a high school education or less. Five of the top 10 reasons for bypassing inoculation included lack of knowledge about its benefits and the risks of remaining unvaccinated.

    A lack of confidence in the shot itself followed by concerns about side effects and distrust in government were listed as the greatest concerns among the vaccine hesitant, according to a draft version of the study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.

    “Vaccine hesitancy is a complex problem across the U.S.,” said Saif Khairat, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the study’s principal author. “And the root cause of that problem is different for different people.”

    Vaccination rates vary widely by age. More than 84 percent of U.S. adults age 65 and older are fully inoculated, according to Mayo. The figure drops dramatically for children ages 5 to 11: It tops out at 48.4 percent of young children in Vermont and just 5.3 percent in Alabama. The CDC authorized vaccination for this age group in November.

  17. DanDare says


    There is vaccine hesitancy and then outright anti vaxx.
    And the regular crowd of everything deniers feeding their own egos on it.

  18. Hemidactylus says

    Sadly backlash toward perceived heavy handed COVID policies like mask and vaccine requirements may have fed into the rise of authoritarianism, though that trend was already happening due to perceived threats due to immigration and what would eventually be called wokeness in the culture wars. Just more paranoid delusional stubborn reactance.

    Ironically I discovered a more contingent authoritarian streak in myself reflecting on my own early response to the pandemic threat, trusting in science and technocratic expertise. See:

    Authoritarianism is widely conceived as destructive phenomenon that threatens liberal societies. However, some scholars suggest that authoritarianism is beneficial both for individuals’ sense of control and goal attainment within groups. In line with this reasoning, collective problems, such as the COVID-19 crisis and climate change, may go hand in hand with increased levels of authoritarianism. While individuals may generally reject the abstract ideas of authoritarian rule and intolerance, societal threat may require individuals to weigh liberal values against needs for collective unity and action. Thus, individuals are expected to show less support for abstract authoritarian ideas compared to authoritarian ideas that are directed at dealing with a specific societal crisis (crisis-related authoritarianism). Following the notion that authoritarianism serves as an antiliberal means for achieving collective goals, relative increases in crisis-related authoritarianism hinge on the rejection of the means being outweighed by the perceived importance of the goal. While authoritarian disposition captures general tendencies to accept the means, trust in science serves as a proxy for the perceived importance of COVID-19 and climate change mitigation. The relative increase in crisis-related authoritarianism should be particularly pronounced among individuals who are not predisposed to authoritarianism and who trust in science. Findings from a cross-national survey experiment in Germany (N = 1,480) and Spain (N = 1,511) support this reasoning. Participants answered four items covering authoritarian submission and aggression either on an abstract level (control condition), or applied to the COVID-19 crisis or the climate change crisis. Participants were more supportive of authoritarian ideas targeted at a specific collective problem as compared to abstract authoritarian ideas. Furthermore, the differences in authoritarianism between the control condition and the two societal crisis conditions decreased with authoritarian disposition and increased with trust in science. Exploratory analyses suggest that the main differences across experimental conditions are driven by authoritarian submission while the interaction effects are rather driven by authoritarian aggression. The study underlines the role of authoritarian ideas for collective goal attainment that exists above and beyond stable personal dispositions. As such, it sheds light on the conditions under which citizens conceive authoritarianism as justifiable.

    So yeah, though perhaps COVID’s kill rate is too low to flirt with Schmitt’s “state of exception”. Softer touches like so-called “vaccine whispering” based on motivational interviewing (see Adam Grant’s synopsis in Think Again) would be preferable if effective. Trying to persuade people with reasoning and facts isn’t working very well compared to bad actor misinformation and deliberate disinformation campaigns.

    A much higher kill rate virus going pandemic will topple us both with the disease and the civil war it sparks. Necessary government heavy handedness would provoke the militias and other freedumb fighters.

  19. Jazzlet says

    jimf @9
    I wasn’t blaming schools or teachers, this kind of thought and emotional pattern starts in the home where our earliest models of how to think and behave are modeled by our parents and their friends, which is why it is often (but certainly not always) passed down the generations.

    Dennis K @ 10, stuffin @12
    I didn’t say they would listen if you didn’t despise them, I said they were less likely to listen if you insult them, that’s just basic human relations. And I agree that many are choosing not to “upgrade their thought process” and are terrified of the new, desiring simple answers and certainty where there are none to be had, thus making them prey to the kind of people that are their leaders who exploit their fears and offer lies to soothe. I don’t know the answers, I just know being rude does not help, although I do understand that it can be an enormous relief to be rude to people who disregard what you say.

  20. Hemidactylus says

    DanDare @17
    Good point. The vaccine hesitant may be more reachable. Basic fear of needles may lead to some apprehension. Every time I get a vaccination I wince. I manage to overcome my hesitance. That I still get COVID updates despite how crappy I feel the next day speaks to something. But hesitance for others may involve fears due to misinformation that centered on the MMR shot plus general mistrust of the government bureaucracy and understandable mistrust of Big Pharma.

    Adam Grant in Think Again spoke of a range of views toward climate change that binary focus on deniers fails to reflect and which may be detrimental to resolving the issue. Not every person who is vaccine hesitant is comparable to RFK Jr, Mercola, Rogan or Aaron Rodgers.

    I was kinda happy with Travis Kelce, the football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, doing commercials encouraging getting flu and COVID shots together. I don’t know how successful that campaign was. Maybe it fed forward into the Swiftee movement too. Who knows. They are the new Posh-Becks power couple.

  21. gijoel says

    The thing that always gets me about antivaxxers is that they rail about Big Pharma making billions, but completely ignore the large amount of money that prominent antivaxxers make from selling sugar pills.

  22. seachange says

    #19 @ Jazzlet

    Having a fetish for being a goody two shoes is a fetish.

    Negging wouldn’t be a thing if it didn’t work ever. Part of ‘doing the dominance thing’ that they crave is asserting it’s true and that they will suffer if they don’t comply.

    Also if you treat certain people as if they might likely be right or might be right, many of those who have the mindset that in each and every human interaction there must be suffering and this suffering must be assigned? They tend to interpret that allowance as the actuality of you agreeing with them in entirety you are just lying about it. Because otherwise that suffering would be yours and not theirs.

  23. John Morales says

    raven makes a good point, and so does nomdeplume.
    But of course, there are multiple factors at play.

    Political legitimacy and vaccine hesitancy: Disability support workers in Australia
    Policy and Society, Volume 42, Issue 1, March 2023,
    Pages 104–116,
    Published: 10 January 2023


    People with disability are an at-risk group in the COVID-19 pandemic for a range of clinical and socioeconomic reasons. In recognition of this, Australians with disability and those who work with them were prioritized in access to vaccination, but the vaccination targets were not met. In this paper, we analyze qualitative data generated from a survey with 368 disability support workers to identify drivers of COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy and why the implementation of this policy may have experienced challenges. We identify a range of themes within these data but ultimately argue that a major driver of vaccine hesitancy in this group is a mistrust of government and an erosion of employment terms and conditions. Drawing on the policy capacity literature, we argue that the “Achilles’ heel” for the Australian government in this case is the critical policy capacity of political legitimacy. This finding has important implications for where the government needs to increase/build policy capacity, strengthening its efforts and better relating to organizations that can be helpful in terms of developing public health messaging for disability support workers.

  24. silvrhalide says

    I rather resent the idea that this is an emerging problem — it’s been around as long as I’ve been alive, and longer.

    It’s been around since Jenner invented/discovered the first smallpox vaccination.

    @5, 7, 9, 10
    These people aren’t ignorant, they are stupid.
    Ignorance can be fixed. Stupid is to the bone and is frequently fatal to both the carrier and bystanders. (Check out the Darwin Awards sometimes. Plenty of award recipients took out their friends, neighbors and loved ones too.)
    There is PLENTY of information about how safe and effective the Covid 19 vaccine is. (Spoiler–the internet is for more than just porn. Apologies to Avenue Q.) Antivaxxers just don’t want to hear it.
    It’s also worth noting when it’s their life on the line, they beg for the vaccine. Once the reality of consequences set in and when it’s too late for the vaccine to work.

    “I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections,” wrote Cobia, a hospitalist at Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, in an emotional Facebook post Sunday. “One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.”

    “A few days later when I call time of death,” continued Cobia on Facebook, “I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same.”

    “They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.”

    Ignorance is sometimes an unfortunate fact of life and is generally easily fixed. Stupidity is a CHOICE.

    BTW, not loving the choice of descriptors for the unvaccinated. “Lower end humans”? That’s the kind of language from people who don’t look fully dressed without a white sheet or a swastika.

    @16, 20
    Sure, kids will blindly believe their parents when they are young. And education is certainly a factor. But I’d also like to point out the not-insignificant number of kids of antivaxxer parents who are desperately trying to get vaccinated with the standard childhood disease vaccines without their parents finding out. Those kids changed their minds in the face of information from their friends, the internet, social media, etc. It breaks my heart that the kids are told that they can’t legally consent to lifesaving medical treatment which is pretty much standard in the developed/industrial world.
    Those are the kids who woke up in the face of reality and made (or tried to make) reality-based decisions.
    Same thing for adults who were strictly homeschooled by their parents, and decided to make different choices for their kids.

    I don’t buy the excuse “well, that’s how I was raised” either. You are a fucking adult. You are responsible for your own decisions. OWN IT.

  25. torcuato says

    “No credible authority claims a vaccine will simply stop transmission with 100% certainty in its effectiveness.”
    So, Dr. Myers, you are denouncing Dr. Fauci as a non-credible? Here’s just one instance where he made that claim.
    And here’s one for Rochelle Walensky, for good measure:
    Amusing to see how the Masks Forever crowd is rewriting history…

  26. wzrd1 says

    The big hitter antivaxxers during COVID reminded me of the film Contagion, minus the arrest at the end.

    torcuato @ 26, Fauci never claimed 100% efficacy. Ever. Nirvana syndrome much?
    As for masks, given the militant and occasionally armed resistance to anything mask in the US, can’t figure out why policy makers had problems staying in sync. Odd though, masks work well everywhere in the world save the US, where apparently, surgeons all die in the OR from asphyxiation due to their masks or something.
    The very first naysayer over masking was in China in the late 1800’s, saying, “Just what I’d expect from a Chinaman”. He refused to mask, died of pneumonic plague three days later. Dr Wu’s staff masked, they all survived. I’m sure that France lauded their deceased physician as a fine leader in his field…

  27. John Morales says

    “torcuato” as the ‘nym:

    Amusing to see how the Masks Forever crowd is rewriting history…

    Rather stupid people are easily amused by their mistaken perceptions.

    Also, they don’t really know how to use the ellipsis properly.

    And, of course, they don’t understand temporal , so (as this specimen did) they confuse the present tense with the past tense.

    And, also of course, they inject their own wishful thinking into their claims, thus the Masks Forever silliness.

    (Quite the specimen, this one)

  28. silvrhalide says

    @26 Seriously, The Hill? Why don’t you quote the Weekly World News while you’re at it. Give us an update on Bat Boy.

    Even in the link, the context of Fauci’s comments are pretty clear. But if you want to remove all context and any words that might contradict your viewpoint and selectively lift words out of context and string them together so they say what you want them to say… sure, go ahead. If that’s the hill you want to die on.

  29. DanDare says

    There is a thing known as the intelligence trap.
    Highly intelligent people can be very good at defending flawed positions and convincing themselves they are right.
    To defend against the trap people need to learn perception changing skills, concept exploration, holding current ideas back for a creative pause and so on.
    Unfortunately things like debate and argument cause people to dig in.
    Getting people to explore instead is very difficult however.

  30. silvrhalide says

    Unfortunately things like debate and argument cause people to dig in.

    If things like actual debate (as opposed to Gish gallop and other asininities) cause you to “dig in” [your heels] and double down on an indefensible or wrong idea, then you aren’t as intelligent as you like to think you are. People who are actually intelligent realize that there is always more to learn, that science is constantly changing as new information comes in, as opposed to people who think they’re intelligent, who will double down on the one idea that mistakenly wandered into their otherwise empty heads, because it’s theirs, not because it’s any good. If your ideas/positions can’t withstand good-faith debate, then they weren’t all that strong/defensible to begin with.

    See The Simpsons: Girls Just Want to Have Sums (Season 17)

    Lisa: Oh my god, I was wrong! And by being corrected, I learned! And no one cared about my feelings!

  31. DanDare says


    Debate is a formal system with a dialectic, an opposition. For and against, yes and no, pro and con.

    Each person is expected to do the best they can for their side. In school we learned to argue even for a side we did not agree with.

    In effect, and in real debates, you see little exploration. Claims and rebuttals but no proposals.

    Generally in argument the same thing happens. If you watch creationist discussions for example you see them looking for gotchas and ignoring or deflecting what is presented. Sometimes they do that with incredible skill.