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Covid lesson: trust the public with hard truths (nature.com)
509 points by hncurious 3 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 789 comments





The article is discussing the media and government being intentionally vague or even misinformative because they don't trust the public, but it backfires and causes more distrust. The flip side that wasn't discussed is the belittling and censoring of voices that were skeptical of the narratives, which engendered even more distrust. Their strategy of information control backfired, and they doubled down. Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine.

In my opinion the biggest example of this was the poor mask guidance early on in the pandemic that was subsequently reversed. Zeynep Tufekci had a very good piece in the NYT on this: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/opinion/coronavirus-face-...

The real fear was that there would be a run on masks by the public, making them unavailable for hospital use. Also, at the time, there wasn't clear evidence of the effectiveness of masks by the public (although there was some evidence with earlier respiratory infections that mask use by the public is beneficial).

But instead of just saying that, the message from the vast majority of public health officials (and media types like Sanjay Gupta) was that "masks don't work for the public". It's not hard to go back to March 2020 and find lots of videos to this effect. This all spectacularly backfired a couple months later when health officials told everyone to wear masks.

And what made me slightly angry was that many officials tried to say something like "well, we have new data now". Which was somewhat true, but also conveniently swept over the fact that there was never data that said "masks don't work for the public", but health officials didn't have a problem saying that in public earlier.


This matches a lot of my own experience in trying to convince people to take reasonable precautions and get vaccinated. And I was one of the first in line for my age group in my state. You have to do things to build trust first, and you have to be willing to admit that some of the measures taken are farcical and have no basis in science.

People will listen to a reasonable, nuanced discussion. They won't listen to someone who hates them.

The answer to masks being uncomfortable is to have a reasonable discussion about when masks are really necessary and which masks are good (N95), meh (surgical), or useless (cloth) and help people find more comfortable masks, take more breaks, etc. Not the Reddit way of putting up videos on the front page of their 109 year old grandma wearing a cloth mask over her oxygen mask for 5 seconds and mocking anyone who grumbles about how wearing a mask for an entire 12-hour factory shift is uncomfortable is a weak loser... missing the fact that they grumble because they're actually wearing a mask.

If we focused more on helping people comply with rules and explaining things calmly and rationally and being clear about what we do and don't know and took much softer approaches, this wouldn't be so bad.

There are still people willing to listen out there, though. But not a lot of people are interested in actually talking.


'just follow the rules'... that's exactly how we get the blind unreasonableness we're seeing everywhere. you need to examine your assumption that masks are doing anything at all in most common situations, and then consider what's actually reasonable vs. what you've rationalized yourself into.

humility is missing in your thrust to convince others of your correctness.


I think you meant to reply to someone else, because you're quoting words that I didn't write.

If I was running things, I would tell people that they have no power to punish anyone whatsoever and design the Covid rules with that in mind, making them focused entirely on helping people instead of controlling them.


> "If I was running things, I would tell people that they have no power to punish anyone whatsoever and design the Covid rules with that in mind, making them focused entirely on helping people instead of controlling them."

to be fair, i agree that we should avoid punishing people for making different risk calculations, and resultant choices, because as a population, it's advantageous to have a variety of strategies employed simultaneously to any potential catastrophe. folks who are trying to coerce a singular "right" approach are literally wrong in their meta-approach.

however, the phrasing of your initial comment fails to recognize that a range of responses could be entirely valid, and suggests 'helping' people find the one right and true way. the better phrasing and intention is to admit that many approaches can simultaneously be valuable, and focus less on being right. being humble is recognizing that no one of us (or even a group) ever has perfect and complete information, and that we should act compassionately and acceptingly towards our fellow humans in light of this truth.

yes, we should share information with each other, but we should also accept that people will actualize that information differently because we're each touching different parts of the elephant[0] and are acting in accordance with our different senses.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant


Well, I agree that there are valid reasons to make different risk calculations, however, part of that calculation has to be the chance of catching and spreading Covid to people who have higher risk.

I personally have almost no risk from Covid. But if I don't take precautions I could easily kill grandma, who can't vaccinate, and others at the nursing home.

I agree that there's no one true risk calculation for everyone, and there are costs whatever we do, but a lot of this would be solved if we were trying to help each other instead of fighting.


> "...I could easily kill grandma..."

see, there's the hyperbole that makes you lose credibility. ~95% of those 65 and older in the US are vaccinated. visiting with grandma (or any family, for that matter) is an instance where wearing a mask (and certainly a number of other potential mitigations) could make a difference, so use your brain to make that assessment, not some brainless heuristic infringed upon you by an irrelevant affiliation.


> ~95% of those 65 and older in the US are vaccinated

My grandmother can't vaccinate for medical reasons and I have other specific health reasons, including past issues with the flu, breathing troubles, general poor health, and the fact that she's 100, all give me reason to believe that she has special risk factors.

The place she is at has had Covid deaths and there are others of similar age with similar risk profiles.

> so use your brain to make that assessment, not some brainless heuristic infringed upon you by an irrelevant affiliation.

Please, I haven't done any sneering like this to you and you don't know my grandma's situation or her medical history. I have solid medical reasons to believe that Covid would threaten my grandmother specifically, far more than the general population.

That said, I'm not particularly cavalier about a 1-2% risk of death from Covid, even though I know that rate is a moving target (and hopefully getting lower over time with better treatment protocols, vaccinations, etc.). Climbing Everest is something like a 5% risk of death and you can see a trail of bodies on your way to the peak. I see no personal reason not to take a vaccine with a risk ~0.0002% [1] (though I know that some people do have specific medical reasons not to and yes I know of the study that accidentally inflated the risk by 25x due to bad math) and I do wear a mask indoors or when mandated, though I also realize that I'm fortunate enough not to have to wear a mask for long factory shifts or such and I have sympathy for those who do have such problems.


this isn't about your grandma (may she live many more years), but the sanctimoniousness (and misguidedness) of your comments.

your chance of death from covid is likely (much) less than 0.2%, an average that's disproportionately (and unfortunately) inflated by the elderly and unhealthy. the elderly and unhealthy are the folks who we should encourage (but not force) to get vaccinated because of the elevated risk. everyone else can, and should be allowed to, make their own risk-aware decision.

> "and I do wear a mask indoors or when mandated..."

and therein lies the crux of my critique. you've outsourced your health decisions to politicians/bureaucrats more interested in their own skin than yours, and yet, make confident claims about the correctness of those decisions. if you're wearing masks as mandated, but not around friends and family (i.e., social situations where you're spitting at each other in close proximity), you're just performing safety theater. and factory workers don't need your sympathy or your mask mandate, since most are distanced enough from each other that a mask literally does nothing more for their safety.

the disinformation you seem to have internalized is why this is all so frustrating, and why we need to route around the mediopolitical gatekeepers trying to drown out the 'hard truths' with their relentless deluge of crafted messaging.


> your chance of death from covid is likely (much) less than 0.2%

EDIT: I had to address this, too, but even if I assume that figure we get 15.6M dead people once the world is infected. I agree that I have a low personal risk, it's not making grandma die of not breathing--something we know painfully well because of how grandpa died grasping for every breath--that I'd like to avoid. Yeah, there's a DNR order, but I don't wish that misery on anyone.

> and therein lies the crux of my critique. you've outsourced your health decisions to politicians/bureaucrats more interested in their own skin than yours, and yet, make confident claims about the correctness of those decisions.

See, this is an unwarranted assumption on your part. I wear them as mandated because, well, it costs me nothing in general to wear a mask when unneeded. I already mentioned that I don't have to deal with, say, 12 hour factory shifts.

> if you're wearing masks as mandated, but not around friends and family

I do wear masks when it makes more scientific sense and I haven't been visiting friends & family in the first place. The few times we did, we did wear masks.

So your criticism is just really off base here. You don't know me, you don't know what I do, and you seem to be reaching to find any criticism despite not being in any position to know anything about me.

Why?


my apologies for being overly critical of you particularly, because that’s not the strict intent, as there is a larger audience to consider. it’s hard to thread the needle between the personal and the general on an open forum like this.

i do stand by what i said in general however. masks are an insignificant mitigation in most situations (but not for grandma). we can reduce deaths at the margin (like vaccinating the elderly and unhealthy), but without a sterilizing vaccine, many were very likely going to die no matter what else we do/did. it’s ok (better, even) that we don’t all think the exact same things and do the exact same things, since that more completely explores the solution space. in that vein, share information, rather than trying to ‘help’ or convince.


Apology accepted. And on the point of sharing information, I can agree with you. I do want to see more of that because I doubt that any of us knows everything about this. Please continue to share whatever information you find and how you came to know it.

It's crazy how you brush aside the elderly and "unhealthy" as people who can die without your consideration and you think their deaths only 'mess up' the numbers. They are treated like an undesirable population whose deaths shouldn't be taken into account.

Shouldn't we vaccinate, wear masks and social distance if only to help the elderly and "unhealthy"?


The virus isn't going away. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they can, but it only has a limited and temporary effect on reducing transmission.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02689-y

You can't seriously expect people to continue wearing masks and social distancing forever. That would be absurd.


> ‘Shouldn't we vaccinate, wear masks and social distance if only to help the elderly and "unhealthy"?’

you’re nakedly appealing to emotion here, and baiting for an inflexible, naïve answer. that’s a despicable kind of rhetorical move that doesn’t serve to push our collective understanding forward, but rather attempts to coerce and strives for conformity. it’s diametrically opposed to the point made by the linked nature article.

if the question was, “should we take measures to protect the elderly and unhealthy, who are at elevated risk?”, then ‘yes’ is an easy response (and embedded in my previous comment), because that both invites collaboration and admits a variety of potential measures, without ego or mediopolitical posturing. more importantly, it doesn’t presuppose that everyone must be coerced to vaccinate, to wear masks illogically, and to lock down randomly to achieve that objective.


> see, there's the hyperbole that makes you lose credibility.

It is not a hyperbole, and it saddens me to hear this level of ignorance in this forum.

The COVID-19 mortality rate for the age >65 is over 20%. That's over 1 death per 5 infections.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics_of_the_COVID-19_pan...

> ~95% of those 65 and older in the US are vaccinated.

No, not quite. It is estimated that 95% of the total US population of >65 received at least one shot, but the percentage of fully vaccinated people in that age group is around 84%.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-19-vaccine...

However, these numbers are averages. Willingness to get the shot varies widely across the US. There are regions within the US where barely half the population took a single shot. For instance, in Idaho, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Mississippi less than half the population took even a single shot, so the majority is still totally unvaccinated.

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/these-state...


The CDC says that the covid IFR for the 65+ cohort is 9%, not 20%.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scena...

> it saddens me to hear this level of ignorance in this forum

Ahem.


> The CDC says that the covid IFR for the 65+ cohort is 9%, not 20%.

It seems you did not noticed that the data I presented was provided by the CDC.

https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Provisional-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Sex...

Your misconception is that you've tried to compare apples to oranges, as you tried to compare IFR estimates with death/infection ratio, which aren't the same thing at all.

Nevertheless, I'm sure no one would make the mistake of interpreting a 10% IFR as being negligible, thus even with that contrarian nitpicking the point still stands.


"Death / infection" is a meaningless number unless you accurately measure the number of infections. Which is what the Infection Fatality Rate attempts to estimate. Which is why the CDC posts that estimate that I linked to, which is 90,000 deaths / 1M infections, or 9%. Straight from the horse's mouth, as they say.

If you're going to be this arrogant then you need to get your facts straight. Yes, 9% is nothing to sneeze at, the difference between 9% and 20% is quite material.

You're displaying signs of Dunning-Kruger - by saying things like "1 death per 5 infections" I'm not wholly convinced that you understand what an IFR is. Tone it down.


I lived with my parents for all of last year and my mom was going thru chemo, so at the time, the threat to her life from covid was very present in my mind. That has gone away since she got vaccinated and I'm grateful. At the same time, my best friend's parents are not vaccinated and I worry that they will get very sick and/or die. My great uncle died from covid. I agree that maybe the phrase "easily kill grandma" was hyperbole from the other poster, and yet i don't know their grandma's situation and the way I read it, their grandma cannot be vaccinated.

Regarding the vaccination rates, I don't think they are as high as you had said/estimated. What I found[0] said 65-74 was around 80% fully vaccinated in the US and 75 and up was around 77% fully vaccinated. If I did the math correctly on my phone, the difference between 80.83% fully vaccinated 65-74 year olds and 95% fully vaccinated is 4,474,231 people. The diff between 77.1% of 75 and up and 95% of them is 4,027,214. While estimating 95% when the percentages were 80.83% and 77.1% may seem insignificant, combined, operating on a large set of people, the difference between your estimate and what I see reported by the CDC adds up to 8,501,445 people...which is just the difference, not the total number of people not fully vaccinated in those age groups. I also think that those percentages are not evenly distributed across geography, as some places have higher vaccination rates and other lower ones, which could make it lower than 80% or 77% in certain pockets.

I'll be the first to admit I don't know if I did the math right above and that I know very little about how statistics work. I think it is very hard for many of us to avoid exaggerating and bending data to align with our fears. Just as I think you were doing your best to estimate the percentage of people fully vaccinated, I assume the original poster was doing their best to estimate the risk to the life of their grandma.

[0]: https://usafacts.org/visualizations/covid-vaccine-tracker-st...


perhaps i misheard it, but i literally heard the 95% for over-65s figure this morning on the radio, which seemed to be quoting the cdc (but again, it didn't have my full and undivided attention). the difference could also be first dose vs. 'fully vaccinated'.

At least this link says even for first dose it's only 91% and 87%, again, which could be off, yet seems as if it would be accurate.

Again, I don't know. What I've learned this year is that statistics can be very unintuitive and I know so little about how they work, that in uncertain times like these, I almost feel reliant on choosing someone to trust who I think understands this stuff better than I.


@nuerow cited nytimes[0] on the 95% estimate in another comment[1]. for the purposes of my argument, the precise number isn’t important, just that it equates to “most”.

and incidentally, that’s the shape of most arguments on most things, because we’re embedded in unbounded uncertainty. the most precision we can have about most things is ‘a little’, ‘some’, ‘a bunch’, ‘most’, etc., not something like 54.736%, despite how enticing precision like that can be. it’s mostly engineering where precision like that is practical, available, and useful.

[0]: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-19-vaccine...

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=28848408


I think precision also matters when dealing with large numbers. If it's 60% plus/minus 30%, not such big deal if dealing with 10 people, it'd be either 3, 6, or 9 people, a range of 6 people. But if it's plus/minus 30% when dealing with a population of 100,000,000, that's a range of 60,000,000 people.

That being said, yes, I agree there are many situations where precision doesn't matter that much and that qualifiers work sufficiently to describe the general sense of the situation. I think what actually drove me to write my precision rant was ironically where you stated that "easily" was hyperbole, which I took to mean as you believing it was not an accurate or precise enough description of the actions that might kill the grandma. Perhaps this thread wouldn't have happened if the person wrote "I might possibly kill grandma." I don't say that facetiously—I think these disagreements about the accuracy and precision of our observations of the world can lead to so much conflict, as it has for me in my life.

So, in a way, I'm grateful for you going back and forth with me, as I've learned even more deeply that while other people may seem to use too much or too little precision to me, I may use too much or too little for them.


yes, it’s miscalibrations of risk, but not necessarily numerical imprecision, that prods my reaction. it’s possible to kill grandma, in many different ways, but it’s not probable, unless intentionally reckless or malevolent. risk is inherent to life, and we need to be continually adjusting our risk assessments so that our individual and collective behaviors approach consistency.

I think the challenge with "easily" "possible" and "probable" is that they are imprecise and often very subjective. One person's "possible" could be another person's "probable."

Looking at stats from Nov 2020 for infection fatality rates[1] (I didn't know the difference among infection fatality rates, case fatality rates, and crude mortality rates until after I had read this[2]), a female over the age of 80 who contracts covid-19 had a 5.759% chance of dying, or approximately a 1 in 17 chance. Is that probable or possible? I suppose it might be relative to one's normal chance of dying. Perhaps her odds of dying from breaking her hip are much higher and therefore much more probable, so covid becomes a possible cause of death. But also, that was for 80 and above, so maybe at 100 the odds are much higher than 1 in 17. However, with new monoclonal antibodies perhaps they're much lower.

I think sometimes I struggle to have conversations on accuracy of risk calculations without getting more precision. Yes, I don't think it needs to go into 4 decimal places, as that precision is very hard to achieve in non-engineering settings as you had mentioned. I also think sometimes words can be way too nebulous and imprecise to bring clarity between two people, as I've done a lot of work with language, emotions, and conflict, and very often (how often is very often?), conflict comes down to different interpretations of the same word.

[1]: https://www.acsh.org/news/2020/11/18/covid-infection-fatalit... [2]: https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid


yes, that's the calibration aspect of it. for instance, we implicitly accept a 1% lifetime chance of dying in a car accident because of the great utility of automobiles. that's a useful calibration point because it has (nearly) universal acceptance and application.

a 6% chance of dying is nothing to sneeze at, but it's still far from probable, which by definition is more likely than not (>50%). and while it's 6 times death-by-car, it's also dependent on contracting covid in the first place (a prior, in bayesian terms). and that prior probability depends largely on whether the grandchild has covid themselves and how contagious they are (how much and where the virus is), and given that as an additional prior, what relevant precautions they take. this chain of dependent probabilities is also why most precautions have marginal effect (because multiplying lots of fractional numbers results in a smaller fraction). none of this chain of reasoning requires great precision by the way; a single digit of significance at each step being plenty for sound decision-making.

finally, note that a 100-year-old has a 30-35% all-cause chance of death: https://www.ssa.gov/oact/STATS/table4c6.html . the addition of covid risk is not immaterial, but relatively not overwhelming.


I appreciate these points, especially about the chain of dependent probabilities. Things can become much less likely depending on many different variables and such.

I guess for me, and maybe for the person with the grandma as well, emotions sway my perception of how risky something is or not, especially with covid. While my mom was going thru chemo, I was already worried that she might die from cancer, and then more so that I would bring a regular flu to her when she was immunocompromised and accelerate that process. Covid-19 stopped me in my tracks, a level of fear I can't recall feeling, that just by being in the same room with my mom and having conversation with her, I could possibly cause her death.

If a grandma of mine were to die from a broken hip, which is probably much more statistically likely than covid-19, I most certainly wouldn't feel as much anger towards myself and regret as if she would die from covid-19 and I had thought I gave it to her.

When my parents got vaccinated, I felt a huge relief, knowing that their probability of dying seemed to drop even more than where it was, almost to zero (I believe), which I probably had originally exaggerated due to fear, and yet, almost all of that fear disappeared for me.

I guess if anything, this thread has helped me pause and reflect on just how much my own emotional state can influence how I see risk, both amplifying or minimizing it away from its more mathematical reality. Thank you for helping me realize this.


awesome, outsized emotional influence on risk assessment is tough to talk about rationally, but it's so important to public policy discussions, not to mention our daily decisions. it takes a lot of emotional sturdiness to self-examine that way.

regarding covid risk, it makes sense to take precautions around the elderly and infirm, because while the risk isn't overwhelming, it's still relatively significant, and feeling relief by taking those precautions is totally understandable. it's just the extrapolation of that kind of situation to blanket public policy that really doesn't make sense (because risk varies so widely for the whole gamut of daily circumstances).


> awesome, outsized emotional influence on risk assessment is tough to talk about rationally, but it's so important to public policy discussions, not to mention our daily decisions.

Yeah, the more I think about, I wonder just how many pandemic decisions have been made by conflicting emotions, especially conflicting fears. Me afraid of my mom dying of cancer + giving her covid-19, others afraid they'll lose the restaurant that they've poured their life into, others afraid the government is using covid-19 as an excuse to gain more control over their lives and steal their property, etc. I talked with a friend the other day who isn't vaccinated and said, "Ya know, if I get covid and die, maybe it's my time." Made me think just how much more I seem to fear death than that person does.

I was listening a little to Sanjay Gupta's conversation with Joe Rogan and one point he made that I liked was talking about how sometimes the conversation about covid-19 risk becomes life or death, overlooking the possible negative effects of just having the virus itself.

> it's just the extrapolation of that kind of situation to blanket public policy that really doesn't make sense (because risk varies so widely for the whole gamut of daily circumstances).

I agree in that risk is widely distributed and it's one of the reasons why I love the idea of decision making at different levels and the concept of federalism in general. I think where it can be a struggle, especially in our current forms of government, is when people cross geographical boundaries. As people move from one place to another (and maybe even as we communicate and therefore virtually feel in many places at the same time or in this one large place together), standardization almost becomes required to make things work. Setting aside the conversation about medical validity of vaccines for a second, one thing they do is help to standardize someone's status for communication to other entities. As someone who (used to) travels a lot internationally, something like a vaccine passport (which they've done for yellow fever for years) makes it easier to verify someone's medical status. Possible to do with covid-19 positive tests as well, just maybe more complex, not sure.

Anyway, I get the feeling you and I could go back and forth for hours on probably any topic lol.


> I would tell people that they have no power to punish anyone whatsoever and design the Covid rules with that in mind, making them focused entirely on helping people instead of controlling them.

How effective do you believe your approach would be? An unenforceable rule is merely a suggestion, and one which relies on responsible and informed decision-making to be followed.

If anything, the current state of affairs shows that ignorance and irresponsible behavior runs rampant, and we're seeing reckless idiots putting everyone around them at risk.


The alternative is a world where a ~66% majority (if that) can override the remainder on their medical decisions - which is about as personal as decisions can get.

The "force them to do what I say" approach will cause more damage the more effective it is. If this is an option for vaccines, there are a lot of things out there that are more important than COVID.


> The alternative is a world where a ~66% majority (if that) can override the remainder on their medical decisions - which is about as personal as decisions can get.

I'm sure that those who repeat the "rights and freedom" mantra are also aware that there is a tradeoff between individual freedom and the ability to live in a free society, which requires tradeoffs between your own personal freedom and the individual freedom of everyone around you.

The case of Typhoid Mary is a great example. Should she be entitled to dictate her "medical decisions" and not be subjected to any form of quarantine?

Your argument is actually not about freedom at all, but about exceptionalism, entitlements, and excluding yourself from any responsibility or duty towards ensuring that the priviledges you enjoy are also made available to others.


> Your argument is actually not about freedom at all, but about exceptionalism, entitlements, and excluding yourself from any responsibility or duty towards ensuring that the priviledges you enjoy are also made available to others.

The technical term I prefer is "basic human rights". Like right to work, right to freedom of movement, right to associate, etc, etc. That might be a bit entitled I suppose.


> The technical term I prefer is "basic human rights".

If that's what you're going with, please keep in mind that basic human rights include right to health, and your refusal to comply with basic health and safety precautions violates "basic human rights" of everyone around you.

So, your argument isn't really about "freedom" but this false sense of entitlement where no rules or obligations should apply to you while the whole world should be forced to accommodate your whims.


> your refusal to comply with basic health and safety precautions violates "basic human rights" of everyone around you...

1. I mean, I'm vaccinated. So pardon me for not taking that outburst seriously.

2. That is a stupid argument. We haven't managed to eradicate the flu, I caught it the other year. So it isn't obvious how someone being unvaccinated can expose you to extra risk - COVID is still going to be around and you're still going to catch it eventually - if you haven't already. Probably several times. There is no credible plan to eradicate the coronavirus.


But we have managed to eradicate smallpox, thanks to widespread vaccination campaigns. Not to mention that the flu vaccine saves many lives each year, which is why it's mandated in many areas of life. Perhaps you should dial back the anti-vax sentiments.

Sure, but smallpox may literally be the only human disease we've ever managed to do that with. If Wikipedia informs me correctly.

COVID is much more similar to the flu, which we have not managed to eradicate. It has already manoeuvred around the generation 1 vaccines.

If vaccine is mandated, you're still going to eventually get COVID. It isn't clear how your right to healthcare is being violated here - all the roads lead to the same outcome. Israel, for example, has followed pretty much the pattern we can expect to see. There are still COVID outbreaks.

> Perhaps you should dial back the anti-vax sentiments.

What anti-vax sentiments?


We managed to eradicate smallpox because there are no animal hosts and we have a highly sterilizing vaccine. Those conditions do not obtain with COVID-19. I encourage everyone to get vaccinated if they can, but SARS-CoV-2 will never be eradicated.

Right to health is not guaranteed. Nor is safety! They get pumped into pursuit of happiness, but again, you'd better have some good legs, or a hell of a wheelchair.

Modern civilization and freedom may come with some obligations and strings attached, but at no point do those justify anyone else as a matter of normalcy, forcing medical intervention or procedures on you unwillingly. We all hope everyone has the good sense to come around eventually; but forced medical procedures is not it. Down that road lay too much atrocity fodder.


To be fair, "helping people comply with rules" and "just follow the rules" are pretty much synonymous.

Properly understood, they're on opposite sides of the equation and as mentioned, I'd prefer not to do any punishment at all, because I feel like that cuts off most of the nonsense. So that means giving people masks if they don't have one or making reasonable accommodations where possible and making interventions about safety.

But I know it's not quite so easy and especially now a lot of people are hardened and less willing to work together to smooth things over.


> But I know it's not quite so easy and especially now a lot of people are hardened and less willing to work together to smooth things over.

The whole point of enforcing public health and safety rules is that a significant percentage of the population is uninformed/misinformed and shows poor decision-making skills based on their personal risk perception and how they value the impact of their own actions on everyone else's risk.

If it only takes one ignorant fool to spread a deadly disease to dozens around him, how do you expect to mitigate or contain a pandemic?


That's the point, you can't. That's why I believe that softer interventions like this would've reduced the number of people who turned hard against this as they wouldn't have nonsense to point at like that guy who got arrested for being alone on the beach or whatnot.

The resistance is proportional to the force used and the polarization of the populace. I'm trying to reduce those factors. Look at all the non-polarized states and you see that people aren't trying to manipulate each other into doing what they want, they're trying to help each other.

This isn't typhoid Mary, you can't just quarantine one person. I hope that we can patch the vaccine escape from Delta with boosters, but even that is unclear.


"Prefer" is pretty woolly, what happens when push comes to shove? "Well thank you for offering me that mask, but masks simply don't work" [hands you a copy of the DANMASK19 paper]. Do you punish the person why defies you or not?

Yes, it's not easy. In general I prefer interventions like avoiding them, offering them an alternate way to shop (online/someone will gather a list of the items they want/etc.), or similar measures. I doubt there's any perfect answer.

I do feel if things had been like "here's a mask" from the start, though, that there wouldn't be nearly as many people refusing them.


It isn't just humility as many such measures are by nature precautionary without any basis in facts at all. Certainty is certainly wrong, especially when we are talking about risk management. That will affect the message negatively.

Unless I'm a qualified medical researcher, how exactly am I supposed to "examine my assumption?"

exactly how you form opinions everyday without having deep knowledge of a given domain. perhaps also read up on the appeal to authority fallacy[0].

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority


> exactly how you form opinions everyday without having deep knowledge of a given domain

Go out and talk to a lot of people.

A decent chunk of the population form bad opinions about a lot of things and hold them until they die.

Thinking is hard, learning/researching is exhausting, a lot of people will, amusingly, work very hard to avoid it :-)


sure, but we all hold crazy beliefs and bad opinions, not just a decent chunk of us. the amazing thing is that if, instead of trying to convince each other so hard, we averaged all our opinions together, we’d be collectively right much more than would seem possible. politics literally opposes this astonishing natural phenomenon. politics and ego are the enemy, not the wrongness that pervades the opinions of individuals.

Maybe you need to do some reading. Appeal to authority is a fallacy only when the appeal is to an unrelated authority.

If I rely on public health authorities in determining how to deal with the pandemic, I'm in the clear, logically speaking.


If you rely on reliable public health authorities for pandemic-related advice, you're in the clear, logically speaking.

If you rely on unreliable public health authorities, you might feel OK about your choice, but you're not in the clear, logically.


How did you get informed enough to decide which public health authorities were the right ones to trust?

I don’t think any of them are reliable enough to cite, on their name alone, as the foundation for a logical argument where “because X said so” is treated as absolute ground truth. That’s the essence of the “appeal to authority” logical fallacy.

Are they trustworthy enough to modify behavior in ways that appear proportionate to the risk when they make an recommendation and show their reasoning and whatever data they have? Yes, of course, but that’s no longer based on their name/reputation alone and, because it’s only a temporary behavior change, it has a much lower standard of proof.


^ Now come on folks I’m waiting for the answer too

Government authorities don't always convey scientific information, so you shouldn't trust them without question. I think the CDC has enough bodies in their basement that they need to account to any trust issues. That doesn't mean they will always lie to you, but you have to get secondary sources if you are critical.

And no, it isn't true what you say about the fallacy. It remains a fallacy if the only argument for a statement is authority of course.


You should really cite something to back up your claim that non-N95 masks don't help.

>You should really cite something to back up your claim that non-N95 masks don't help.

I suspect that depends on what someone means by the word "help."

N-95 masks have filters that (IIUC) are fine enough to block most SARS-Cov2 containing droplets from being inhaled.

Other masks do not have such filters.

However, that's not the rationale for encouraging widespread masking. Since many COVID infections are asymptomatic and transmission is certainly possible for those who are pre-symptomatic, the rationale is that non-N95 masks don't protect the wearer, but rather those around the wearer, as they trap some (more or less, depending on the materials in such a mask) SARS-Cov2 containing droplets, making an infected person less likely to infect others.

So, if by "help" someone means "this will help keep me from being infected by others," then that argument is correct.

However, if by "help" someone means "this will help keep me from infecting others, and with widespread use of masking, help others from infecting me" then that argument is specious.


> People will listen to a reasonable, nuanced discussion.

Is this actually true in the today's world of social media and 24x7 news cycle? I honestly can't think of anywhere (of any popularity) that still engages in nuanced discussion. Probably because people don't tune in.


> People will listen to a reasonable, nuanced discussion. They won't listen to someone who hates them.

The victim argument is standard rhetoric, but they can choose to do what they want. For one thing, I haven't seen much hate at all. Could you give examples of it on a significant scale? Some leaders expressing hate? Mostly, I see resignation.



If anything, the Herman Cain Award is a place to vent frustration about the wave of reckless and irresponsible behavior perpetrated by a largely uninformed/disinformed segment of the population which happens to also be highly vocal and even militant regarding their personal ill-informed beliefs.

The Herman Cain Award focuses mainly on reporting cases of individuals who are eggregiously contrarian and even hostile in their self-righteous militance opposing basic health and safety measures who end up falling victims of their own actions.

If anything, the subreddit documents causes and effects, and showcases the expected risks and consequences of this sort of attitude.


I don't see the Herman Cain Award subreddit as a "place to vent frustration". I see it as an orgy of shadenfreud and a place to mock the dead, no matter how people try to spin it.

That is a lot of rationalization you had to go through for that judgement. I think it is a ridiculous excuse.

[flagged]


I disagree. Perhaps not specifically these subs but the sentiment certainly involuntarily spreads opposition and one main purpose of subs like these is to have something to feel superior about. There are many like that, maybe these aren't the worst offenders.

I enjoy some of those myself from time to time, but it is what it is and has nothing to do with education and is more focused on self gratification. Just enjoy the pleasures in moderation.


> I disagree. Perhaps not specifically these subs but the sentiment certainly involuntarily spreads opposition and one main purpose of subs like these is to have something to feel superior about.

No, that's not really true at all. For a clear example, here's a link to a post from /r/HermanCainAward that popped up in /r/popular right now

https://www.reddit.com/r/HermanCainAward/comments/q701sk/tir...

Every single time I stumbled upon a post from /r/HermanCainAward in /r/popular, the theme has always been the same. It's pretty much a one-trick subreddit.


If you would like, I can pull upvoted comments from the subreddit where people are bathing in the catharsis of their dead political enemies.

> (...) where people are bathing in the catharsis of their dead political enemies.

Taking a vaccine is not a political issue, except to a radical bunch of anti-intellectual militants who for some reason still hold a few cognitive dissonances tied to the last election round.

To put things in perspective, there are countries which already are in the high 90% of total vaccination rounds, have a residual incidence rate, and have already went back to normal, simply due to the fact that they didn't had to deal with conspiracy theorists that adopted denial as a election strategy.


Interestingly, that subreddit has convinced some people to get vaccinated. Otherwise it's basically https://old.reddit.com/r/leopardsatemyface (covid edition) with a lot of venting frustration at folks who willfully spread the virus and the misinformation that keeps it spreading.

The success cases I've seen were people talking to their family members, which is a reasonable approach.

The subreddit itself with some of the hateful "these people deserve to die" kind of comments is actively harmful.


Plenty changed their mind due to seeing the subreddit. You can find a bunch by searching it for "IPA" and the twitter account https://twitter.com/YassIPAqueen shares a bunch as well.

I don't think the hateful comments are the reason people are changing their minds though. I think it's just seeing example after example of people who think like they do facing the consequences of their actions which really drives home the point. On the plus side, I think some of the outrage over the tone has gotten people to check the place out when they might not have otherwise. I wouldn't recommend the tactic for general public outreach but it does seem to work for a certain segment of the population and we're at the point now where people are trying everything they can think of. I thought the "funeral home" ad was an inspired idea https://edition.cnn.com/2021/09/21/us/covid-vaccine-billboar...


I think a lot more people would be convinced by images of these ICUs and seeing the impact of not being vaccinated as well. However, let's not pretend that the whole point of that subreddit is to "encourage people to get vaccinated". It's to feel good about people (who disagree with you) dying. Maybe if we remembered that some of these unfortunates had more to their lives than being anti-vax, we could be a bit more compassionate and more of them would be convinced in participating in measures against the coronavirus.

> Maybe if we remembered that some of these unfortunates had more to their lives than being anti-vax, we could be a bit more compassionate

Schadenfreude plays a big part for sure! From what I can tell though the fact that these people have families that love them and children that depend on them isn't lost on the subreddit. It just makes people more angry at them for not taking the simple steps that would have saved their lives and spared a lot of needless suffering. When you have people pridefully hurting everyone around them it's going to cause some resentment. They don't just leave their families with emotional grief and guilt they will carry for the rest of their lives, but also with massive amounts of financial debit due to medical expenses which would be unheard of in other developed nations. That too is usually something of a self-inflicted wound.

I don't agree with the gleeful hateful comments, but I can easily see how compassion is starting to wear very thin. I also wish we had more of a view into ICUs and what goes on in hospitals and funeral homes. I don't know how to do that while still respecting the privacy of the people suffering though.


>It just makes people more angry at them for not taking the simple steps that would have saved their lives and spared a lot of needless suffering. When you have people pridefully hurting everyone around them it's going to cause some resentment.

Those feelings are being used to justify behavior I truly find abhorrent on the HCA subreddit. While the feelings in and of themselves may have some basis, they don't excuse that the whole purpose of that subreddit is to "piss on the graves" of the antivaxxers who died.

> I don't know how to do that while still respecting the privacy of the people suffering though

The privacy of the people suffering was never a concern, and the website administration only stepped in [0] once some bad press [1] came about, partially due to those privacy violations.

I really sympathize with your position. I do see a lot of "aggressive anti government" sentiment and I disagree with a lot of their points. However, I also disagreed with the Chinese "Human Flesh Search" [2] and find it deeply troubling that our society has developed one of our own especially against people I disagree with.

[0] https://old.reddit.com/r/HermanCainAward/comments/pwo28t/rhe...

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/reddit-s-herman-cain-c...

[2] https://www.tilburguniversity.edu/sites/default/files/downlo...


There's a point to sharing how Covid has ruined people's lives, yes. It's the sneering and hate which causes problems.

EDIT: I feel I should clarify that I'm not saying everything on the sub is bad, just the sneering part of it is not good. Sharing stories of how Covid has hurt people is fine and should be done. Cheering for people to die? That's just ghoulish. Yes, I know they're not all doing that, but I've seen more than a few such posts on the front page of Reddit. I don't bother reading that subreddit, though. I don't need other people's stories of how Covid has hurt friends of mine, I have my own.


What political leaders are posting there? Public health leaders? Even medical personnel? Because those people should probably be fired and replaced if they are publicly associated with it.

> there was never data that said "masks don't work for the public"

Actually there was plenty of data saying that masks don't work for the public.

For example, https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal...

And there are many others - that was just an easy one I found today. Some similar studies even showed an increase in flu transmission among the subject population wearing masks.

There were plenty of articles (such as the Tufekci one you cite) at the time explaining that normal folks don't know proper mask discipline, such as how to fit masks and avoid fomite transmission.

In this situation with limited supply it makes sense to preserve masks for skilled people who are facing numerous likely transmission sources, especially on the front line of providing health care.

The new data was that fomite transmission is not a strong vector for COVID19, that even modest mask technology is a good source transmission interrupter, and that the contagion window is well in advance of active symptoms.

This new data meant that the flu based studies were not representative.


IMHO it was just a stupid call, because in the face of conflicting data, it would have been a better default option to recommend masks. That's easier to walk back than "oops, we were lying because we don't trust you rubes enough not to hoard, even when explicitly instructed not to hoard." In the beginning of the pandemic I, with effectively zero sewing skills, made a cloth mask out of spare clothing. They could have had an infomercial showing people the most effective cloth mask designs they could sew at home. That's easier to walk back to "oh, cloth doesn't work that great, we recommend N95 now" when the supply of those was adequate.

In short, they could have pretended that the public is not stupid and just told the damn truth.


I agree. Wanting to keep supplies to healthcare workers wouldn't have even been all that hard. Thanks to the horrific amount of consolidation in retail they could have gone to only a handful of major players like amazon and walmart and said "Please pull these masks off of shelves and help us save them for healthcare workers" and that would have kept them out of the hands of the vast majority of the population. A few might have tried ordering them from overseas or spent hours trying to get them from random places online hoping that they were getting the real thing and not overpriced knockoffs, but most people were not going to do that, especially if the reasons they shouldn't were communicated to them.

Claiming the masks are useless to the public but critical for healthcare workers made no sense. I mean, I think most people would accept that putting just about anything in front of your gaping virus-spewing face holes would have some benefit. Health agencies have pushed for things like the vampire cough/sneeze for ages to reduce the spread of all kinds of things, although the crook of your elbow is hardly a panacea.

I think either way we'd have ended up with a bunch of dumb or selfish people who refused to put a mask on, and there were already plenty of people distrustful of the CDC and WHO but they sure didn't do themselves any favors.


At the beginning of the pandemic, there were a lot of problems that required "thinking outside the box," and the US wasn't up to the task. China banned mask exports for a time. Large N95 exports might still require a license in Korea. The Korean government politely asked Samsung in January 2020 to import a few tons of meltblown plastic, and in March instituted export limits and mask rations to secure the domestic mask supply. (The plastic was then allocated from Samsung to mask manufacturers, and when the manufacturers tried to flex their newfound market power the government threatened to take them over.)

Meanwhile the US continued to allow foreign entities to hoard and export masks and meltblown plastic, and didn't make any effort to secure or guarantee domestic production. It would have been so easy for the national stockpile to place an order for 5~10 billion masks, and then set themselves up as an additional link in the supply chain to hospitals which buffers against fluctuations. I imagine they were limited by their legal framework and budget.


I am not sure if going to e.g. Amazon or Walmart would have worked. If this is timed incorrectly it is easy to cause needless mob hoarding -- see toilet paper de-buckle...

That said yes blatant misinformation backfired royally. I recall at the point already people were calling bullshit and ignoring the "do not need masks" guideline.

This did not happen only in the U.S. or just due to the masks. E.g. the handling of Astrazeneca and other vaccination complications have instilled fear and also a sense of mistrust.

I think there would be a few people not wearing masks or not vaccinated but the percentage would be much lower -- low enough that we can progress forward. The moment masks and vaccinations became a political tool in the U.S. and there was no political solidarity it was game over. Couple that with lying and can you really blame people not trusting the government?


> Thanks to the horrific amount of consolidation in retail they could have gone to only a handful of major players like amazon and walmart and said "Please pull these masks off of shelves and help us save them for healthcare workers" and that would have kept them out of the hands of the vast majority of the population.

Early on, Amazon and other online medical supply stores actually did this themselves. Restricted surgical masks to medical professionals only.


> They could have had an infomercial showing people the most effective cloth mask designs they could sew at home.

In fact, eventually they did something like this. The Surgeon General of the United States produced a video showing how one could make a quick-and-dirty mask with a t-shirt and rubber bands... dated April 4 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PI1GxNjAjlw


Exposure matters. I don't think the SG has that many Twitter followers. :)

I feel like there was a real missed opportunity for the President to do, well, Presidential things. Like if whoever was President had done a series of prime-time infomercials that had this kind of information. The kind of TV event where literally every major network would carry it live.

In my wildest dreams I imagine Carl Sagan as President. Or Mister Rogers. Can you imagine how different the response could have been if a careful communicator and good educator had taken the biggest stage, gave us the straight dope, talked to us like adults and children alike, and made us feel like we were in it together. Instead we had the biggest stooge desperately trying protect his only accomplishment, the record stock market and historically low unemployment from cratering because he was only worried about himself.


I agree that it was stupid to take that route. You could always say it was a precautionary measure if effectiveness is low (it is for most masks). Although there is a limit on what you can propose here and it might cause a backlash if you do that too often and may affect future and more efficient measures.

But err on the side of caution for a new form of virus isn't that hard to convey. It was the hobby enforcers of rules that did the most damage in my opinion, with badly sourced data. People should focus to adjust their own behavior accordingly instead of that of others.

If supply for masks was critical, this should be communicated as well. There would be a run on masks, but it shouldn't be a problem to set aside contingency supplies for hospitals. This is what they should have focused on.


Explicitly instructing the public not to hoard is probably the fastest way to induce hoarding behavior. People will hoard two extras so that their family can have those as backup rather than risk them being sold out to the person who hoarded 10 extras when it's time for resupply.

> Actually there was plenty of data saying that masks don't work for the public.

... (a year of arguing and studies ensues while a pandemic of a new and not-well-understood virus spreads out of control) ...

> The new data was that ... even modest mask technology is a good source transmission interrupter, and that the contagion window is well in advance of active symptoms.

A wasted year and all that rigamarole just to figure out what Asian societies have known for decades, and common sense untainted by politics should easily conclude. Masks are a cheap and easy way of reducing airborne transmission.

The US and other Western countries that botched this really need to learn a few things:

- how to learn from other societies that have more recent experience with certain things like airbone pandemics than we do.

- how to do better cost-risk-benefit analysis. Masks are an extremely cheap, easy and minimally invasive means of mitigating potentially serious and vastly more costly systemic bio-risks.

This NIH attitude, and notion that we have to spend a year doing studies to figure out what a little back-of-the-napkin risk analysis shows and other societies already know from first-hand experience, is absurd.


No, actually, there's still no data that mask mandates work. You can simply look at case graphs for different countries, and try to figure out when mandates were added or removed. It can't be done, although introducing changes to the case curves big enough to notice was the only justification for the policy. Given the short serial interval any mandates should have made a clear and obvious impact on case numbers within days, but that never happened.

"we have to spend a year doing studies to figure out what a little back-of-the-napkin risk analysis shows"

Both risk analysis and the studies proved wrong. The real world data is the ground truth here, because that's what the policies were designed to affect.


You're fighting against such an ingrained level of belief in one's superiority that's it's almost impossible. The US, especially.

The article "hn_throwaway" cited was March 17th, 2020, and indicates the emerging understanding well.

San Francisco issued a mask mandate on April 17, 2020.

So that delay was mid February to mid April.

So help me out here since you say it three times.

Where is that "wasted year"?


> This new data meant that the flu based studies were not representative.

I don't think it's a huge stretch to say that having some conflicting data on the effectiveness of masks to reduce the spread of flu is not the same as having data on the effectiveness of those same masks to reduce the spread of a novel virus.

Throw in distinctions between types of masks, estimates for how well people will use/handle/fit them, and things get very complicated very quickly. Distinctions like that can seem like splitting hairs, but they matter and it makes messaging difficult. I totally get why they wanted to keep supplies for healthcare workers and how hard it would be educate everyone on all the factors, but they really could have handled it better and been more honest.



If masks worked effectively, it would be quite simple to find a strong correlation between cases and areas with lax mask usage. Instead it is all over the map (pun intended).

I think it's also worth pointing out that even with them saying masks aren't effective for the public, there was still a run on masks. I don't have the exact date, but when I looked for n95's at my local hardware store in March 2020, they were all gone and this was definitely before we were told to wear masks. And soon after we started getting stories about hospitals running low on PPE.

I am not saying what the right messaging move was/would have been. But all I do know is that no matter what, masks were going to get run on. I also know that, at least from an American perspective, no matter what the government told people to do, there was going to be a contingent of people that would do the exact opposite because we are a stubborn and distrustful people.


> American perspective, no matter what the government told people to do, there was going to be a contingent of people that would do the exact opposite because we are a stubborn and distrustful people.

Right, but you have to start somewhere. The reason we are distrustful is because past experience with the US government has taught us to be distrustful. The first time the US government applies this idea to trust the people and give truthful information, it probably won't go super well. People will still doubt and mistrust. Trust is built over time, not just by saying "yeah, we've been lying forever now, but trust us, we're going to start telling the truth now".

The answer shouldn't be "well, the people aren't going to trust us anyway, so we shouldn't bother being truthful". That's just self-fulfilling the lack of trust, and perpetuates the problem.

Someone else pointed out that telling the truth can also allow you to use social pressure to get what you want. As you point out, telling people "masks don't work so don't bother hoarding them" didn't work; people still hoarded them and there was a shortage. And people who hoarded early could later put on a smug grin and say, "yeah, I knew what was going on from the start and did the right thing". If the government had instead said "masks can help, but we need to reserve the supply for hospitals and first responders", then you create social stigma around hoarding masks. It won't stop hoarding 100%, but it can help. At least you probably won't be worse off than the shortages we ended up having anyway, and, meanwhile, you've taken a step that increases trust. And you paint the hoarders as anti-social and selfish.


When the message was "masks don't work for the public", it was translated to "well they work, but not for you" and thus to "grab as many masks as you can before you are relegated to the no-mask-for-you public bin".

The messaging was crude, obvious, untrue, and ultimately self-defeating. It only takes a small minority of people to buy up everything, especially small, cheap, lightweight objects sold in quantity packaging.


> ...create social stigma around hoarding masks. It won't stop hoarding 100%, but it can help...

That only works in a society with a certain baseline of trust, accountability, and empathy. If you remember 2019, things were already hyper-partisan, a large minority of the population was in a cult of disinformation, and the media was reeling from the shift away from print and moving towards a clickbaiting 24-hour news cycle.


If they were open and upfront about limited masks and reserving N95 and other PPE for healthcare workers there was a possibility of a social stigma of individuals buying up and using N95 and PPE. Like how scalpers get the stink eye and angry stares when they take all the toilet paper, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Sure the masks might not have all gone to the right place but I imagine it would have been better than telling people you don't need masks.

Toilet paper scalpers... Last year I scoffed at the people buying two or three packages of toilet paper. I thought that was selfish, and refused to participate in that hysteria. Then a few weeks later, I was wiping my ass with paper towels for a month because I ran out of toilet paper and couldn't buy more. It got me thinking that I should buy a bidet. It also got me thinking that if I had been "part of the problem" and bought more toilet paper than I needed, I would've had enough for myself.

It convinced me to keep a reasonable amount in reserve at least. I don't expect another run on it like before, but toilet paper isn't likely to go bad sitting on a shelf. I can keep a few extra packs around 'just in case' and I can't see the price of toilet paper doing anything but going up in the future, so getting a little extra now makes sense.

This mentality actually was part of the problem. One person buying a few packs is nothing compared to a lot of people thinking they need to increase their stock by just one pack.

Not to accuse you, it's the sane thing to do. But part of the shortage wasn't caused by hoaders, but by a lot of people stocking up a little.


I agree. it's kind of unavoidable, but I took care to only grab a little extra over a long period, and hopefully if people do the same then the next time there's a problem in supply they won't have the sudden pressure to buy up everything available and the jerks who buy up pallets and fill the backs of pickup trucks will be stuck again with product they can't move.

$35 Non-Electric Bidet Toilet Attachment https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075MMHQX7

Takes a few minutes to install. I recommend it if you don't want to spend $$$ on an electric Toto.


Like mattresses, office chairs, monitors, and other things that will get a lot of use over their lifetime, this is one of those things worth spending a little more on. Unless you're the type of person who also likes the shock of cold showers. The Totos are worth every penny.

You're not wrong, but not everyone can have electric service put in near the toilet. I have a Tushy myself, which is a similar non-electric device.

Bidets also sold out pretty quickly, along with exercise equipment, hair clippers, and so on.

Toilet paper shortage was caused by shift from commercial to residential purchasing, with different packaging/distribution/purchase size characteristics. It's not a convenient item for scalping due to low value per volume (comparing to hundreds of $1K iPhones easily fitting in a car trunk.

One temporary solution would be for businesses to distribute / sell rolls of their no longer needed toilet paper to employees. Employees might not have a compatible dispenser at home, but in a shortage they could put it on a flat surface and peel off as needed. Lack of out of the box thinking...

Businesses did sell their stock. But the distribution lines to businesses rapidly collapsed due to lack of demand (or not in the case of essential businesses), and it wasn't viable to keep them open to just distribute commercial toilet paper.

I dunno, I ended up buying some scam toilet paper on Amazon that was the tiniest roll of paper I've ever seen with fraudulent pictures thereof.

Doubtful. Just think about the toilet paper shortage; a common household item that never would have had a supply shortage if people just maintained their regular buying patterns.

Now think of masks; a non-household item that a small percentage of households carried. Even if people were reasonable and only bought an amount to cover their needs, that would have introduced hundreds of millions of new buyers for that item.


There would have been a supply shortage even if people just maintained their regular buying patterns, simply because they started to use their home toilets much more and their business toilets much less, and those are different products (sometimes literally physically incompatible with the holders) with different supply chains, so an unexpected switch from people using product A to product B is inevitably going to cause a supply shock.

Solution, be honest: "Masks work, but we don't have enough and need them for hospitals so you're not allowed to buy any. Wrap a tshirt around your face instead, it's probably better than nothing."

The government cannot easily quickly ban the buying/selling of a certain thing like that. Just not how it works, far too slow moving.

Huh come to think of it, banning the sale of masks would have been the most brilliant strategy to get people wearing masks.

Imagine if instead of putting out a press release, they had quietly banned selling masks by retailers and then 3 days later when people caught wind of it explained the shortage mean they were only for hospital workers.

All the anti government reactionaries that are now anti-maskers would be the most ardent mask wearers.


They were able to completely shut down entire sectors of the economy pretty quickly quickly.

States did that, and still not on the timescales we are discussing.

> no matter what the government told people to do, there was going to be a contingent of people that would do the exact opposite because we are a stubborn and distrustful people.

Americans are this way because the government continually gives them a reason to. The lying through the pandemic, the Iraq war, it just goes on.


Thank you for clarifying.

This is why I don't know what the right answer is on the messaging. The US government, and nearly every government, has a history of lying to people. The other side of the coin though is that during those early months, and well into lock down, everything was up in the air about the virus, how it transmitted, and how to fight it. If I was in the position of how to convey that information to people, in the most honest way possible, I don't know if I would have done a better job (or fucked it up even more).


I've disagreed with the general global response at essentially every step. I think any reasonable person would have done better, and get the feeling that there are likely ulterior motives and disgraceful politicised actions to explain how bad the response was.

In particular, in the beginning there were very clear indications given by Taiwan and China that there was a dangerous virus spreading among the people. Yet sick Chinese people were free to spread over the world for months with no response except down-playing it. They practiced the opposite of the precautionary principle and horrendous risk management.

When politicians knowingly lie to everyone's faces and take harmful actions against the people, pushing toward a more authoritarian society at every opportunity, how can you have any trust and not wonder about conspiracies?


> Yet sick Chinese people were free to spread over the world for months with no response except down-playing it. They practiced the opposite of the precautionary principle and horrendous risk management.

At what point did the spread in the US stop being driven by sick Chinese people? I don't know the answer, but my impression was pretty darn early - far before politicians were taking the virus seriously as a policy issue. Sometime like early February or even late January.


> At what point did the spread in the US stop being driven by sick Chinese people?

After the first initial cases (that could be tracked directly to travel from China; e.g. that one guy in Snohomish county in the Seattle area), it was already spreading on its own by then.


Yeah if that's the case, the GP seems dumb.

> Yet sick Chinese people were free to spread over the world for months with no response except down-playing it.

> When politicians knowingly lie to everyone's faces and take harmful actions against the people, pushing toward a more authoritarian society at every opportunity, how can you have any trust and not wonder about conspiracies?

Wouldn't pushing toward a more authoritarian society been not allowing sick Chinese people to travel?

Do you think it would have been OK to implement restrictions at the start of the pandemic, just not now?


Doing health checks and restricting foreign nationals arriving from specific high risk areas is not extreme at all, that has been done plenty of times. I don't think it is comparable at all to the unprecedented restrictions that become normal in the last 1-2 years.

>Do you think it would have been OK to implement restrictions at the start of the pandemic, just not now?

Yes. In the beginning nobody knew how dangerous the virus was, so risk management should have been much more strict. It could have been a virus orders of magnitude worse than covid.


> In the beginning nobody knew how dangerous the virus was, so risk management should have been much more strict.

That won't work. Right now we have a pretty good idea of how dangerous the virus is, and plenty of US citizens don't want to participate the risk management of wearing a mask or even vaccinating. Hell many governors are outright forbidding vaccine mandates. Those same people aren't going to go along with strict risk management when the risk is unknown.


The same people I knew who were buying canned food and masks in the beginning of 2020 while the governments and health organisations said it was nothing are now the "antivaxxers". Humans are rightfully afraid of the unknown. I fit into this group

However, the next pandemic could be very different now that covid has been used as a political tool and people think of such a relatively mild illness when they think of 'pandemic'.


I still think the pandemic should be managed. I agree the world could've done better at the start, but I don't think that nothing should be done now. Just my opinion.

My understanding is that US outbreaks weren’t even usually sourced by Chinese travelers. Wasn’t the early NY outbreak actually found to have been through Europe? And that was pretty early. I doubt any restrictions from only certain countries would’ve slowed anything down. We would’ve had to do shit Australia did, total closed borders even to our own citizens abroad…

> The US government, and nearly every government, has a history of lying to people.

This is something you should work to fix rather than just say things like "but the other party lies a bit more, so I also have to lie to defend myself! And people doesn't listen anyway so why does it matter if I lie?" etc. I see so much bullshit people use to defend their sides lies and deception here.

To me ensuring the government stops lying and deceiving the public is priority number 1, every other issue is second to that (as long as the country remains a democracy). This goes for your side, no matter which side it is, and no matter how much the other side lies and deceives, I'll condemn you if you lie and deceive. If you disagree then you are a part of the problem, and people like you are the reason the government can freely lie and deceive the public as they do. Governments only stops lying and deceiving when the public strongly reacts to it every time they do, ignoring it just because it helps your cause is how they can continue to lie and deceive.


I agree to an extent, but at the end of the day it's unrealistic. The government is an entity made up of people with their own biases, problems, and their job on the line if they fuck up. I think there is a meme of honorable government employee who will resign before letting down the American people, but the reality is most people (and government employee's) would be more concerned about covering their ass.

This is a long way of me saying that people are liars, the government is made of people, so the government will always lie. Same for partisan pissing matches. The important thing to me is how they react when new information comes to light, or they are caught out on their lies. Or when the lies are big enough (I.E. lead to great suffering), repercussions are put on the table.


> This is a long way of me saying that people are liars, the government is made of people, so the government will always lie.

I live in Sweden, and our politicians seems to be a lot more honest than both sides of American politics. So from my perspective you aren't even close to hit the theoretical "politicians are people, people lie" limit. And until you at least gets somewhat close to it I'd argue that you should strive for it rather than let politicians run wild with lies and deception as you do now.

A good start would be to stop with the "Bundle a million unrelated bills and call it the 'Bill of Freedom!'" thing that is going on. Those bills are there to sow division and hate by saying things like "Our enemy are against freedom, vote for us to get the bill of freedom accepted!" etc.


I am willing to admit being wrong on this. I limited by my experience being only with the American system. From the inside looking out, it is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking fixing this system is impossible.

"Our politicans seems to be a lot more hoenst". Are they though?

I know in Canada the government is just as corrupt, it's just better at keeping out of the press and squashing it quickly.


America is like that from foundation! Distrust in the government is in this nation’s DNA! Right now Gov. Abbott is taking a major stand against Biden’s vaccine mandates.

I hear this a lot, but there's no reason why this has to be the case. The government has a lot to say in how much the people trust it. If they make the first move (and probably the second, and third, and fourth) in being trustworthy and trusting people with information, they can change this perception.

It would take decades at minimum, probably longer than our lifetimes, but this doesn't need to be a foregone conclusion.


One of the most frustrating things about this for me, is that this pandemic has highlighted just how important it is that the public have trust and faith in science, doctors, medicine, and in government agencies like the CDC. For far too long we've allowed private companies put their profits over human lives and it's hurt that trust. We have seen scientists taking money from corporations to publish bullshit studies for harmful products, doctors accepting bribes to give dangerous drugs to people who don't need them, regulatory capture weaken regulatory agencies and oversight, and time after time there are no meaningful consequences when it happens. It's hard to blame people for their skepticism. Yet even now I haven't seen a whole lot being done to change any of those issues. Instead it's immunity for the sackler family, dishonesty from the CDC, a doctor makes headlines all around the world for telling patients that their illness is caused by daemon sperm and alien DNA, but still has her medical license, etc.

"put their profits over human lives"

The government has a price per life when setting airline and automobile standards. Is that putting "profits over human lives"?

Stop with the ridiculous rhetoric.


This is some sort of sarcasm right? Arguing that the abhorrent actions of companies like Nestle, DuPont, Phillip Morris, DeBeers, and Purdue Pharma are anything remotely equal to setting federal safety standards while saying I'm guilty of "ridiculous rhetoric"?

The point of the comment you're replying to isn't that we don't just distrust the government now, it's that distrusting the government was expected of all citizens by the people who founded the country. We have an amendment that basically says "if the government becomes tyrannical, use guns to make them stop." Some people think that we are supposed to distrust them, always.

No, I get that, and I explicitly reject it as "part of the country's DNA". Talk and assumptions like that merely perpetuate the status quo.

It's a governance technique meant to curb excesses of the ruling elite, informed by the historical frequency of ill behaved governing bodies and their miscellaneous maltreatment of the governed

That also causes significant loss of life, both domestically and abroad.

The punishment feels, to me, disproportionate to the crime. Things like having permission to shoot someone for breaking into your house.


What leads you to conclude that defending yourself with up to/including deadly force against an intruder with unknown (but quite reasonably presumed to be criminal) intent is unreasonable?

Breaking into an occupied residence is a quite serious crime and I don't think it's reasonable to require the inhabitants to sit down over tea and find out what the invader's intentions are before mounting a defense.

Don't want to get shot after breaking into someone's house? It seems like there's a pretty straightforward way to avoid exposing yourself to that risk.


There was a gun in the house when I was a kid. Explicitly to protect the family against intruders.

Number of times intrusions occurred: 0

Number of times the gun went off by accident: 2

Number of times a drunken adult gave the gun, loaded, to a kid: 1


Irresponsibility and negligence are certainly sad but not very good reasons why people should be stripped of the ability to defend themself and their loved ones

They are precisely the best of reasons why people should be stripped of such dangerous things. We don't let average people fly airplanes, neither should we let average people shoot firearms.

Right after evil, incompetence is the next worst thing for handling dangerous tools.


Though a bit of a tangent, it's quite reasonable to be able to use force against an intruder in your own house. At least in the US the police have no duty to protect or even respond, and depending on location may be many minutes or even tens of minutes away.

It's quite difficult to glean the (true) intent of an intruder, and the possibilities include burglarly, rape, and murder so it's quite reasonable to protect yourself.


It's not a bug, it's a feature.

The idea is that power corrupts everyone. Thus the system should be set up that no one person has too much power and the citizens should be constantly suspicious of those that hold power.


That's why I don't think it's possible. The priorities and operation of the government change whenever the administration/majority changes. Having decades of consistency like that just isn't going to happen.

That's a fair point. This isn't something that can really be legislated (at least not effectively), so you need successive administrations to be on the same page with this, which isn't likely.

> America is like that from foundation! Distrust in the government is in this nation’s DNA!

I've heard this, but I don't understand it. Can I trouble you to express why you think this is the case?

> Gov. Abbott is taking a major stand against Biden’s vaccine mandates.

Isn't that also the government?


No, that's not really the reason. Those things just further solidified the pre-existing distrust/suspicion.

It's built into the American ethos and the documents founding the republic itself. Having lived in multiple countries it's clear the US government doesn't necessarily lie more than others (often less!), it's just that American start with the premise "The government is probably lying to me".


In some Eastern European country they know that politicians are lying to them and are pocketing money. They do not even try to hide it. They even admitted it! What changed? Nothing. It is still an on-going issue and no one does anything.

My father works in Taiwan and he was aware something bad was coming down well before it hit US news. This was late January 2020, and by then most all of the masks at the stores were sold out, followed shortly by the cleaning supplies. I would say the majority of buyers were shipping these back to family in Asia or they were prepairing for the peak that hit a few weeks later.

I bought a bunch of N95 masks the day after I heard China was locking down Wuhan. There were still plenty of masks at regular prices at the time.

I bought them right around the time officials started admitting they were helpful.

$120 for a box of ten N95 masks.


I'm baffled that anybody ever thought they weren't helpful. As if we haven't been using masks against airborne diseases for the past hundred years. But suddenly they would be useless against Covid. Then they point to one or two studies as if they support their argument, when there were at least as many at the same time showing the opposite. Also ignoring decades of evidence of the efficacy of masks. I thought I was taking crazy pills. The default for all airborne disease in the absence of significant evidence (particularly in the case of a novel one) is to use masks. Anything else is pure idiocy.

By the time officials admitted they were "helpful" (because of course they were, there's nothing particularly special about Covid in that respect), it was already way too late to get masks. Because anybody with any basic knowledge of disease and medicine had already bought up all the supply long before.

Another way of looking at it is in a betting scenario. I want to make money. The two options I can bet on are

a) Based on decades of scientific evidence, buy fuck loads of masks on the likelihood of them being anywhere from moderately to highly effective.

b) Masks are useless based on two early studies in a highly unstable situation with little accurate information and low confidence, counter to established medical practice with no other basis in reliable evidence.

Guess what I'm betting on. Further, the risks associated with being wrong are far lower with option A than with option B.


Oh I agree completely. I think at the time many of us could read between the lines and see what was really happening: They were preventing a run on masks, and medical professionals needed all they could get.

I don't like being lied to, but in this case I think I have some forgiveness because the end goal was justified (at least in my mind). It's such a weird feeling though, I'm very conflicted about it.


I don't think people assumed that it was coming to the US, but covid was definitely in public awareness by late January.

Some proportion of those people are disaster preppers that bought a ton of masks, just like the toilet paper people.


Not just masks, anything that was vaguely safety related. I had to stop resin 3d printing because I couldn't get:

* Solvents-- IPA, methylated spirits etc.

* Nitrile/Latex Gloves

* Respirators (the kind used for painting)


Yeah I didn't buy a resin printer early bird special because I couldn't get masks gloves or isopropyl

> But all I do know is that no matter what, masks were going to get run on.

To add to this, there were several mask runs in late 2019 and early 2020 in China, HK, Taiwan etc. People were buying out entire inventories of masks to sell online.

By the time the pandemic became a problem in the US, there was already a global PPE shortage, and people were doing the same thing that happened in other countries, where they'd buy up supplies of PPE just so they could sell it for profit online.


I really think this will go down as The Big Mistake that lost the public's trust in the US and made compliance for every subsequent measure difficult to sell, and opened the door to nutters.

This is a pretty privileged viewpoint imo.

This one small thing lost the public's trust?

Not the fact that cops used to pull me over for no reason because I lived in a poor neighborhood? Not the fact that my family member's lives were ruined because of tiny drug-related infractions? Not the fact that we went on a pointless 20+ year war for no reason (just the one within my lifetime)? Really. Wearing a mask is the breaking point here?

How easy are people's lives? They have everything going for them except they have to wear a mask so THEN they lose faith in the system.

Fucking spare me.


I think you are misinterpreting. They lost faith in medical experts. I don't think hes talking about the US system as a whole but instead trusting the advice that vaccines are safe, masks work, etc. Medical advice.

Can't blame that on the CDC's pandemic response either. Scientists take money to put out fake studies for dangerous products, medical journals publish absolute trash for cash, doctors take bribes from phrama companies, phamra companies bury evidence that their products are killing people and push for more sales, the FDA bypasses it's own process to push out new dangerous drugs as regulatory capture weakens what little oversight exists, and nobody is being held meaningfully accountable for any of it.

If our entire goal was to erode the trust of the American people in science and medicine we couldn't have done a better job. We lost the game before the pandemic and haven't done a thing to turn that around. The sackler family pays a fraction of their profits and get immunity forever. Stella Immanuel still has a medical license. Corporations continue to put profit over human lives and can poison whole populations with no risk of prison time. It doesn't bode well for the future.


Just so I understand, the one thing about flip flopping on masks cost them to lose faith in all medical experts? Doesn't that seem a little unreasonable? I agree we shouldn't have flip flopped on masks, but I don't think making a whole narrative out of that makes sense.

Closing borders is racist. Two weeks to flatten the curve. Don’t mask. Mask. Stay Inside. Trump didn’t close the borders fast enough! Double mask. Protest crowds are not superspreaders. Trump Rallies are superspreaders. School is dangerous, distance learning is good. Go outside, inside is bad. Dems-don’t trust Trump Vaccines. Biden/Pelosi - we can’t mandate vaccination. Dems-you must trust our vaccines, they are effective. Biden/Pelosi- we are mandating vaccines. No mask if vaccinated. School is good, kids don’t get it. Still mask if vaccinated. School is bad, kids are getting it. Vaccine boosters because they are not as effective as we thought.

Did I miss anything?

Edit: added some punctuation for clarity


Most of these can be blamed on the awful pile of dung that is the modern news media, not actual institutions like the CDC.

Admittedly, very few people go direct to source here, instead only learning about things through the news media.


Closing specific borders because you don't like the people who come through that border is racist. Closing them all probably wouldn't have done enough anyway since it would have to be combined with mandatory and strictly enforced total lockdown to also prevent the spread internally.

We were able to affect the curve. Maybe it would have been flat or even inverted if people actually stayed home for 2 weeks.

They said not to use masks because hospitals needed them. They weren't sure at the time if the masks were effective enough for others to wear them anyway. Later we both got our supplies in order and determined that even cloth masks limit the spread by significantly reducing the radius around you that is dangerous. We said masks weren't needed for the vaccinated because there was solid safety against the original strain. A few months later, the delta strain became a problem because people didn't do enough to stop the virus from spreading, so we had to go back to masks since the vaccine only partially protects against delta.

Protest crowds were certainly dangerous when it came to spreading the virus. However those people were also far more likely to be wearing masks than people at Trump rallies. Also there's a difference between pushing back against people getting murdered by police and people all gathering to hear a politician that they were already going to vote for tell them all the things they wanted to hear.

I don't want to put any more time into this comment, but I think I've made my point that the changes have been logical.


Yes, you have appropriately conveyed all of the political talking points that attempt to tie logic to the illogic behind some of those flippy floppy positions. The changes are only logical when viewed from a political lens. The party behind all that political exploitation of the pandemic I listed never measures it’s success by the outcomes of their policies, only by the virtues behind their intent (Just as you have done here). Perhaps that is how you think to measure success. Me? I measure success by public trust and successful results. The US government and its experts are sorely lacking in both of those areas.

Ya, people who have problems with dynamic situations (e.g. best practices continually changing via new information coming in) have had real problems with this pandemic. They wanted a static stable unchanging story from the onset, and were very disappointed and anxious when they didn't get that.

But everything you’ve written above is simply condemning authorities because they didn’t have the best solution from the onset.


This wasn’t an evolutionary change of best practices. This was waffling from one extreme to another, then back again. When you do that, people will lose confidence in leadership.

Everything I wrote above condemns authorities not because they didn’t have the best solution from the start, but by all appearances never had a solution at all. Additionally, one party by my observation spent more time trying to exploit the pandemic for political power gains rather than treating it as a problem to solve.


Exactly. The CDC went from masks don't work, to everyone wear masks, to no masks if vaccinated, to wear a mask even if vaccinated. In 18 months.

18 months is a long time. I’m ok with plans changing to find something that works. But again, I understand that a lot of people crave the single right answer from the start.

Can we at least expect a mostly or even somewhat right answer after 18 months?

If we have a dynamic situation, why is it necessary at every step of the way for governments to arbitrarily ban things and then mandate them? Could they not just offer strongly worded advice in line with their levels of confidence?

It is still unclear - and will remain so for some time - if the lockdowns and knee jerk emergency measures were worth the cost.The economic ripple effects have started to appear and we'll have to see how bad it gets.


The changes above weren't caused by "best practices changing via new information", they were caused by political and ideological imperatives.

I mean, seriously. Protests are incredibly deadly. Not BLM protests, those are fine. No, now BLM has run its course protests are illegal again. Obviously that isn't anything based on "new information", and nor have the other changes been so motivated.


No, masks aren't the only thing, it's just that it's somehow become the symbol for the whole thing.

But we've got a whole series of documented lies from Fauci. He's admitted to lying about herd immunity numbers [1]. He's had a whole sequence of confrontations with Rand Paul, first claiming that the USA wasn't funding the research there (we were), and then claiming that it wasn't "gain of function" research (it didn't precisely fit the technical definition, but a common sense parsing of the description is that it's exactly what they were doing).

And right from the start, we've got the WHO lying, apparently to cover China's butt. The WHO demonstrably knew that covid-19 could be transmitted between people, and that it was airborne, yet claimed publicly that it had no evidence of either, and went as far as to praise China's response to the outbreak. [2]

[1] https://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2020/12/25/dr-fau... [2] https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/14/asia/coronavirus-who-china-in...


It's much easier to lose trust than it is to earn it. Lie just once and you can wipe out years of hard-won good will.

Isn't it a bit unreasonable to lie but expect people to still trust you as they did before? This is not some new premise that the authorities got blindsided by; Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. They should have known better than to lie, no matter the motivation for a lie.


I saw the flip flopping on masks and thought it was silly for them to do that. However, I also was not going to not get the COVID shot over that, because, based on my own assessment, getting the shot made sense.

Anyway, I'm just surprised a whole narrative was built around something I would consider really not a huge deal. Folks could buy masks anyway, even without them being recommended (I did). It's not like masks were illegal to buy or something.


> Folks could buy masks anyway

They couldn't for a while though, and that's an aspect of the whole fiasco that really bugged me personally. The initial claim was that we do not need masks, because they are not effective and because if we all buy them then hospitals will run out, so I did not buy any. Then, we were told that we all must wear masks, and there were none available. I was re-using a disposable mask for several days at a time because I had no idea where to get them. It was really frustrating to see wealthy politicians and celebrities telling everyone to "just wear your mask!" because the rest of us could not find any to wear.


Yeah, fair, I still don't know what them recommending this earlier would've done though. It just would've made the shortage sooner, right? It seems that's what they were trying to prevent. I do get that people don't like that they were lied to though, and then mandates were hard to follow when implemented, if people couldn't acquire masks. The pandemic exposed, and continues to expose, issues with our supply chains. If there was an abundance of masks to start with, I don't think the government would've flip flopped on masks in the first place, but since supplies were what they were, I'm not sure there's a good answer here.

I don't have a good answer either. I understand public health at a national level is about being pragmatic and doing things that actually work, and I can honestly understand if they acted the way they did to try and give hospitals some lead time to stock up before the masses did. But even if this was the case, they have not told us about it, and continue to deny that anyone ever said not to mask up. The tweet[0] from the surgeon general was deleted. The CDC page[1] has been taken down. So not only did they lie, they are now lying about lying, and I'm not going to forget that the next time I'm told to "trust the experts."

[0]: https://web.archive.org/web/20200229123317/https://twitter.c...

[1]: https://web.archive.org/web/20200229164715/https://www.cdc.g...


Just wondering, are they currently lying about having made these guidelines before? I haven't heard anything about that myself. I also do remember some news articles saying the government's mask guidelines were so hospitals could stock up (maybe it was once they flip flopped, I forget, it was over a year ago, but I do recall reading that).

I think it's possible they deleted old content to make sure invalid data isn't out there on the web to be cached, linked to, quoted, etc.

However, if they really are lying now (i.e. making current statements) saying that they never flip flopped, then yeah that would be weird.


They never denied saying that they told us not to mask up.

You don't want people linking to obsolete information under the surgeon general's twitter. There is no way to flag a tweet as "for history only ignore the actual advice as what to follow." Meanwhile, the old "don't mask" mandates are in the CDC's website in their archives, which are purposefully hard to find (for similar reasons, to ensure you know you are going to historical and not current publications).


Different people have different experiences. Different people have different thresholds for trust. Different people have different prior experiences. Some people have witnessed and been harmed by more lies than others. What does or doesn't seem like an overreaction to you, me, or others is going to be different to one degree or another to every individual. What you judge to be a small inconsequential lie may seem like a much bigger deal to other people who have other experiences and viewpoints. That's why the mask lie was not merely silly, it was flat out idiotic. Those responsible, the liars, assumed that everybody else would have the same tolerance for falsehoods as themselves. That was a myopic assumption to say the least.

(I got vaccinated too, but I have no particular animosity towards those that haven't. They are, if anything, victims of the government's long history of being untrustworthy.)


Yeah, based on what you said, I agree it was idiotic. I personally still don't think it's a hill worth dying on though, but that's just my opinion.

Not just that. In the UK the government are claiming that the virus effects everyone equally and yet everyday the deaths are concentrated in the 60+ brackets. Their latest program has them claiming all pregnant women need the vaccine because it's putting them at massive risk of the worst ventilator and yet the figures show just 20 pregnant women in the last 4 months needed the machine and the other 100 people were fully vaxxed.

EDIT:Forgot the bit where the JCVI recommended against vaccinating the under 18s but the government ignored the science because vaccines=good

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/jcvi-statement-au...

And I also forgot the Whitty charts which led to a winter lockdown and 4000 deaths per day. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8908503/Was-lockdow...

And then there's immunity through infection which stopped being a thing in 2020.


I’m going to call bullshit on everything you just said.

> the UK the government are claiming that the virus effects everyone equally

I haven’t heard anyone from the government say that.

> claiming all pregnant women need the vaccine because it's putting them at massive risk of the worst ventilator and yet the figures show just 20 pregnant women in the last 4 months needed the machine and the other 100 people were fully vaxxed.

Here is literally an article from a few days ago that shows 1-in-6 are pregnant women and that the vast majority have NOT had the vaccine.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/oct/11/one-in-...

You know what, forgot it. If this doesn’t prompt you to reconsider your sources, refuting every single point you made won’t either.


> In the UK the government are claiming that the virus effects everyone equally

No they aren't. Some disreputable news sites may imply that, but government representatives have not said this.


> Just so I understand, the one thing about flip flopping on masks cost them to lose faith in all medical experts? Doesn't that seem a little unreasonable?

Have you never heard of racism, bias etc? Yes, when a representative for a group does something then that will affect peoples views of that entire group and not just that person. Humans are irrational like that.


Yes I do understand that. I just hope people would put things in perspective and be a bit more rational. I think racism, bias and all that comes from people taking hard line stances on things, possibly things they inherited from their upbringing, political party, etc. If we take a hard line stance on this as well, I don't see what value we are adding. The way I look at the mask guideline was that it was a mistake but it was an evolving situation with the pandemic, so I understand why some of the actions taken, in retrospect, were not ideal.

Trust is irrational by definition: you are trusting somebody is being truthful without any proof. However, refusing trust after it has been broken even once is rational: not only you still don't have any proof but now you have the evidence that that person/entity can lie to you. You might have heard this saying "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" what do you think it's about?

What you are saying makes sense in a limited context, however, applying it to changing mask guidelines does not make sense to me.

I think rationality is also figuring in all the factors, like an evolving pandemic and supply chain issues, but that's just my opinion.


Generalization from experience isn't irrational or specific to humans. It's a basic part of any cognitive process. Animals are great at generalizing from experience.

The reason there are social taboos against very specific kinds of generalization is because in the past powerful and evil governments have implemented horrible policies on the basis of such generalizations. But that's an argument against letting governments pass such laws, not an argument against any form of generalization about groups of people.

In this case, public health professionals have been observed behaving as a group in very specific and abnormal ways over a long period of time. It is not merely reasonable to generalize about public health at this point, it would actually be irrational not to do so.


We were told that Fauci and the CDC speak for the medical establishment. And that if you disagree with them you were anti-science, and Google/Twitter/Facebook would censor you. I still trust my doctor, I long ago stopped trusting the political "doctors."

Sorry, I don't have an answer for you. I was just trying to clarify the context with a more charitable interpretation of GP's point.

Most of the folks that lost faith during COVID are the ones consuming online rightwing disinformation and also mostly listen to a cable news network and political party that is lying to them for their own political gain.

Pretty sure it's not the only one, it's just the most visible one (the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak). There are tons of other examples above (turning down the music in gyms etc), just not talked about as much. You are reminded about those absurd, knee-jerk reactions when you look at masks (unfortunate given that of all the measures, masks seem to atleast do something).

Yes. The majority of the population doesn't experience the things you have, as unfair as that is. So I think the person you're replying to has a point.

Yo, chill with the assumptions. Nothing about this article/discussion has to do with your comment.

The public hasn't trusted the US government in a long time, probably since Nixon. Recent examples of lies are Iraq WMDs, Iraq involvement with 9/11, Afghanistan progress, and NSA surveillance. Follow that with persecution of whistleblowers and the government seems like it's gone rogue to many.

Pre-Nixon example of high levels of distrust: https://news.gallup.com/poll/165893/majority-believe-jfk-kil...

>Americans were skeptical about the "lone gunman" theory almost immediately after Kennedy was killed. In a poll conducted Nov. 22-27, 1963, Gallup found that 29% of Americans believed one man was responsible for the shooting and 52% believed others were involved in a conspiracy. A majority of Americans have maintained that "others were involved" in the shooting each time Gallup has asked this question over the past 50 years, except December 1966, when exactly half of Americans said someone in addition to Oswald was responsible.


The reality still is, if you don’t carefully specify the kind of masks people are supposed to use (or even specify they have to use non-medical masks!) the effect, if any, is so small it isn’t measurable.

It’s just such a great virtue signal that people keep clinging to it.


It’s a damn religion at this point. The masks most people wear do basically nothing. Wearing an effective mask (for some value of “effective”) is not comfortable at all!

People keep repeating that particulate masks are not comfortable. I don't think this is universally true. Sure, some combinations of face shapes and specific mask models might be uncomfortable, but that is going to be true of anything that is supposed to be form fitting (e.g. shoes).

For me, I had issues with 3M products, but once I switched to Honeywell, I haven't had any issues. In addition to being more comfortable, I have an easier time getting a better seal with Honeywell masks. I think this is in part due to the fact that they have more substantial gaskets.

Higher end masks also tend to work better for me. If you are having trouble with disposable N95 masks, look into N99 or P100 masks or upgrading to a silicone mask. I personally find the Honeywell RU8800 to be very comfortable and I don't have any issues wearing it even on long hikes. This is especially useful when it is smoky.

Another benefit of silicone masks is that it is trivial to test the seal with your face. Poor fit is a common problem with disposable masks and is often cited as a reason why they are ineffective for normal people. Based on my anecdotal experience, roughly 90% of the people I have seen wearing disposable particulate masks in public are obviously wearing them incorrectly. It seems like it would be worth reading the instructions when your safety is on the line.


Just keeping a majority of an infected but not symptomatic persons spit from traveling around the room would seem like a win even if being in the presence of mask wearers being safer is harder to establish than the effecacy of mask wearing and it won't help if those most likely to spread the disease because they won't be careful aren't wearing them.

Personally I've found n95 mask's with head straps more comfortable than cloth masks with ear straps.


Why not always wear a mask? Why have we decided this one specific illness deserves this level of “safety”?

>>>Why not always wear a mask?

Facemask usage has been common in Asia, I think largely due to SARS ( I didn't live here back when that kicked off). It's normal for customer service staff to wear masks even if they just have a mild sniffle/headcold.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/culture-shocked/2020...


Yeah, I remember the stories about how covid was under control in Japan because of the masks. Until it was out of control, of course.

Facemask usage is common in Asia mostly due to air pollution, especially in places like China or South-East Asian countries.

TLDR: COVID has both a higher actual body count and a much higher potential body count along with asymptomatic transmission that makes masks which we have every reason to believe decrease transmission by decreasing the amount of fluid breathed out and thus the amount of virions spread through the environment even when cloth masks are worn imperfectly. Models of both chance of transmission and severity of disease decrease with dose of infectious particles.

The utility of preventative measures is defined by an estimate of the relative utility of mitigating vs not mitigating.

Covid is widespread in the community, deadly, very easily transmissible, and transmissible by asymptomatic carriers. This means the single most effective measure we have to avoid spreading illness, simply staying home when we feel ill, cannot and in many cases will not be practically effective alone because people wont practice it.

A mask lets someone who doesn't know they are contagious decrease the chance of spreading the disease in that time frame and it forces immoral people who go to work with their coughing and blowing their snotty nose to at least keep some of their mucus to themselves.

With various mitigation measures we have still lost over 700k people. There is every reason to believe that had we treated it like the flu which we callously spread by not even staying home when we are ill, not bothering to get vaccinated or mask we would have lost 2-3 million people based on the fatality rate experienced by individuals early on not to mention the challenged that would have been faced by our overwhelmed health care system. This is not even to speak of the long term damage to the bodies of survivors.

There is a tendency in those who complain about current health care measures to compare our costs despite countermeasures with the callously unmitigated costs of lesser challenges like the flu. As costs have mounted this becomes increasingly unreasonable as even the mitigated total grows much higher than the cost of something like flu.

We don't make everyone mask up during flu season because the ugly truth is we are ok with killing 50k mostly old people in flu season. We make this choice every time we go out of the house knowing we are sick and work sick knowing we will infect 5 more people who will infect 5 more people and so forth.

By contrast even with drastic mitigations in many case we still lost 350k in 2020 and will probably lose over 400k in 2021.

We have established that in the realm of infectious disease COVID is notably different from the next worst competition.

One could easily argue that behaviors like bad diet lead to as many unnecessary deaths but infectious disease unlike bad diet is something that the vulnerable cannot mitigate. Nobody chases you down and stuffs double cheeseburgers down your gullet but someone may silently exhale death while you all shop for your groceries or work together.

Thus the reason for our elected representatives to on our behalf to set ground rules to protect us from our fellow citizens irresponsibility.


The goal of public health officials is to reduce the overall amount of deaths / infections / disease spread. The goal is not to ensure maximum survivability for a specific individual.

The mask guidance made perfect sense in this light. For the overall benefit of the society, masks were prioritized for health care professionals rather than the general public, in the face of limited supply. But of course wearing a mask improves your individual survivability so you should wear one even if public health officials tell you not to.

The same thing is currently happening with booster (third) shots. For the pandemic to ease worldwide, it is deemed more important to send vaccines to poorer countries with low vaccination rates rather than using them as third shots in rich countries. But if you want to maximize your own chances, of course you should get a third shot.

Public health officials deal with the whole population. You deal with a population size of one. It's a net win for them if their health policy reduced disease by a large proportion in one half of a population but increased it slightly in a different half. It's game over for you if you happen to be on the wrong side.


But public health officials are royally screwed if nobody trusts them.

Importantly, I am NOT arguing that health officials should have changed their guidance in early 2020, I'm arguing they should have changed their messaging. "It's vital that people don't go out and buy masks because if you do hospitals will run out of masks and then we're all screwed" is very different from "masks worn by the public don't work".


I think of myself as someone who "follows the science" and the fact you present is what keeps me skeptical of expert advice. Another example was when the question of which vaccine to get was being asked. Any doctor who knew they were being interviewed, said to get the first one that's available to you. I can see this making sense from a population standpoint, but if I'm personally not trying to get COVID, then of course I'm willing to wait some amount of time to get Moderna/Pfizer rather than J&J. It's just like being told "don't panic", and I honestly don't know if there's any resolution that doesn't involve light deception.

There is a data indicating masks are not effect source control for respiratory illnesses.

https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/26/5/19-0994_article

I think the single study that supported cloth face coverings of no particular standard of performance was a mechanistic study that depends on the belief that respiratory illness spread is a direct function of the distance water droplets of an arbitrary threshold size travel from a simulated sneeze. Which, of course, is so obviously true it needs no supporting evidence.


> is a direct function of the distance water droplets of an arbitrary threshold size travel from a simulated sneeze. Which, of course, is so obviously true it needs no supporting evidence.

Except it turned out to be false, the primary mode of transmission for sars-cov-2 is aerosols that can spread throughout a room (hence the need for good ventilation), not droplets that quickly fall to the ground (which was what social distancing and masking was predicated on).


I may be reading it wrong, but I believe they were being sarcastic with that last sentence.

Telling people they didn't need to wear masks was a horrible idea. The worst decision by the public health apparatus (as opposed to the political leadership, which made a lot of blunders at various levels) in 2020 and probably the entire past 100 years.

I don't know anyone who defended that at the time or now. On the other hand, I don't know anyone who thought masks wouldn't work well either. Everyone I knew ignored that.


Ha thats just the tip of the iceberg!

The medical professional community still continues to blunder here!

Exhibit A:

“Ah! Its affecting young people!”

Like the 1918 flu?

“What no, people in their 50s and 60s!”

The public doesnt call this young by any colloquial definition, so why would you say that the one time the public needs communication from you?

Exhibit B:

“Let’s reduce potential strain on ICUs!”

yeah sure I’ll stay home for that and put dating on hold during the prime of my life for a bit

“Let’s make sure nobody gets COVID ever!”

Ehhhhhh …. and now mitigation detractors all have ammunition to ignore every mitigation measure because it doesnt work 100%


I can't speak to what politicians were saying, but I heard a number of virologists and epidemiologists saying that "masks weren't necessary" because 1) convincing most people to use them consistently and correctly is very difficult, and 2) because it was thought that the virus was spread only by symptomatic individuals, who produce larger droplets by coughing or sneezing and which transmit the disease through contact with contaminated surfaces or by close proximity (hence, social distancing).

"Then there is the infamous mask issue. Epidemiologists have taken a lot of heat on this question in particular. Until well into March 2020, I was skeptical about the benefit of everyone wearing face masks. That skepticism was based on previous scientific research as well as hypotheses about how covid was transmitted that turned out to be wrong. Mask-wearing has been a common practice in Asia for decades, to protect against air pollution and to prevent transmitting infection to others when sick. Mask-wearing for protection against catching an infection became widespread in Asia following the 2003 SARS outbreak, but scientific evidence on the effectiveness of this strategy was limited.

"Before the coronavirus pandemic, most research on face masks for respiratory diseases came from two types of studies: clinical settings with very sick patients, and community settings during normal flu seasons. In clinical settings, it was clear that well-fitting, high-quality face masks, such as the N95 variety, were important protective equipment for doctors and nurses against viruses that can be transmitted via droplets or smaller aerosol particles. But these studies also suggested careful training was required to ensure that masks didn’t get contaminated when surface transmission was possible, as is the case with SARS. Community-level evidence about mask-wearing was much less compelling. Most studies showed little to no benefit to mask-wearing in the case of the flu, for instance. Studies that have suggested a benefit of mask-wearing were generally those in which people with symptoms wore masks — so that was the advice I embraced for the coronavirus, too.

"I also, like many other epidemiologists, overestimated how readily the novel coronavirus would spread on surfaces — and this affected our view of masks. Early data showed that, like SARS, the coronavirus could persist on surfaces for hours to days, and so I was initially concerned that face masks, especially ill-fitting, homemade or carelessly worn coverings could become contaminated with transmissible virus. In fact, I worried that this might mean wearing face masks could be worse than not wearing them. This was wrong. Surface transmission, it emerged, is not that big a problem for covid, but transmission through air via aerosols is a big source of transmission. And so it turns out that face masks do work in this case.

"I changed my mind on masks in March 2020, as testing capacity increased and it became clear how common asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic infection were (since aerosols were the likely vector). I wish that I and others had caught on sooner — and better testing early on might have caused an earlier revision of views — but there was no bad faith involved."

"I’m an epidemiologist. Here’s what I got wrong about covid."(https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/04/20/epidemiolo...)


Its funny with this mask thing. In Sweden we never had very wide mask usage, and I'm not sure what our "CDC" is saying about masks now, but I still think they are very sceptical tbh.

Part of the problem is that the layman doesn't understand the way scientific communication works.

When asked do masks stop the spread of the virus, the answer is factually no, and people then go and spread that about like masks do nothing. People don't want to listen to "No, masks don't stop the spread entirely but provide an x% reduction in airborne particles" because they've already zoned out


> The real fear was that there would be a run on masks by the public, making them unavailable for hospital use.

No, that wasn't the real fear.

> But instead of just saying that, the message from the vast majority of public health officials (and media types like Sanjay Gupta) was that "masks don't work for the public". It's not hard to go back to March 2020 and find lots of videos to this effect.

This was the real fear. They were telling you then what they really believed. (And there was plenty of evidence supporting it.) The statements now to the effect that they were lying all along for the greater good reflect the idea that it's better to be perceived as an evil genius than as a buffoon. They do not reflect reality.

Compare https://slatestarcodex.com/2020/04/14/a-failure-but-not-of-p... :

> A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post on face masks. It reviewed the evidence and found that they probably helped prevent the spread of disease. Then it asked: how did the WHO, CDC, etc get this so wrong?

> I went into it thinking they’d lied to us, hoping to prevent hoarders from buying up so many masks that there weren’t enough for health workers. Turns out that’s not true. The CDC has been singing the same tune for the past ten years. Swine flu, don’t wear masks. SARS, don’t wear masks. They’ve been really consistent on this point.


> The real fear was that there would be a run on masks by the public, making them unavailable for hospital use.

Ironically the run on masks had begun months earlier. I snagged a box of N95 construction masks in late Jan 2020, and they were totally gone everywhere by early Feb


> But instead of just saying that, the message from the vast majority of public health officials (and media types like Sanjay Gupta) was that "masks don't work for the public".

The CDC never really said that "masks don't work for public" [0]. Some other health officials and media did. Now, if you relied on the CDC for information everything would be more or less fine. The two things that make this situation worse is - (1) An ever-changing landscape of information and (2) "Whom to listen to?" problem. We are not good at (1) itself, because we are terrible at updating our priors. Then, you throw in (2) in the mix and there's mass confusion.

Zeynep Tufkeci can say that "oh tell the truth" but there's no guarantee that her version of communication would play better than what we have.

[0] https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e3.htm


The link you shared is from March 2021

https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volum...

From a now-deleted tweet from February 29 2020

https://web.archive.org/web/20200229123317/https://twitter.c...

> @Surgeon_General

> Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!

> They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!

From a now-deleted webpage

https://web.archive.org/web/20200229164715/https://www.cdc.g...

> CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.


Yep. The memory-holing is already going strong. In another year, all those "now-deleted" links won't work anymore, and everyone will keep claiming the government never lied, and you'll be a nutter if you claim the government ever said masks don't work. You'll be banned from all forms of conversation, and labeled "alt-right."

The techno-utopia is awesome.


Given that one of Fauci's emails shows the same opinion on mask inefficacy, I believe the lie came in the 180 about face claiming they do work (and there wasn't any cost to imposing them).

The government never said that masks don't work, because "the government" is a thing which does not speak. The former US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who was appointed by the former president, claimed that masks don't work in his now famous tweet "STOP BUYING MASKS". Fauci did not say this; Fauci instead said that for several reasons "there’s no reason to be walking around with a mask" at that time. The White House Press Secretary was absent, so there was no comment from the former president's Press Secretary. Which of those voices, or lack of voices, or any other voices, would you say qualify as the statement by "the government"? Unless you're a 2-dimensional South Park "nutter" character, you should realize that "the gubbmint" does not share a single voice, if it has a voice at all.

If you're treating the government as a solitary nebulous entity, then accountability goes out the window. It's important to keep the individuals that make up the government accountable and responsible, as President Biden has with Jerome Adams, who is no longer the Surgeon General. Accountability is also why Fauci still serves as the NIAID Director of the NIH.


>The government never said that masks don't work, because "the government" is a thing which does not speak.

The government speaks plenty, it just has many voices. All the ones you hear are specifically chosen people to speak on the government's behalf, they are even told what to say. I'm not really sure what you are trying to justify with that opener. I mean you realize people on this form are more intelligent than the general population, right?

>If you're treating the government as a solitary nebulous entity, then accountability goes out the window.

I think qualified immunity has a lot to do with it. Also the fact that most of the machine wasn't elected and runs the same way regardless of who we put into office.


The Surgeon General tweeted [0]:

> Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus

The CDC's main page had much more nuanced advice (as of late March 2020) [1]:

> Wear a facemask if you are sick... If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

I agree that the distrust that we are currently seeing has many different sources. It is hard to have consistency when many different organizations are communicating their own messages based on different views of the problem. Even if you could fix that messaging, it would not have addressed the issue of deliberate disinformation.

However, statements like that tweet from the Surgeon General were indefensible based on evidence and clearly damaging to public discourse. Not to mention being nonsense: why would we prioritize masks for health care providers if they weren't effective?

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20200302023223/https://twitter.c... [1] https://web.archive.org/web/20200325234207/https://www.cdc.g...


Even the nuanced CDC advice was very bad at the time. In Feb 2020/early March 2020 countries with strong tracing programs were already reporting presymptomatic spread and large outbreaks via the air (following airflow) in enclosed restaurants and workplaces. In such a context "wear a mask if you are sick or caring for someone sick" is really not good enough.

And in hindsight, we now know that Covid is most contagious just as symptoms first appear.


Maybe you really believe this, but to me it comes across as gas lighting. I know what I remember, all the blabbing heads on the media were telling us to stop buying masks because they won't help us. Maybe you earnestly believe otherwise, but I think this line of argumentation will never be accepted by the vax-avoident. On the contrary, it probably contributes to their perception that they are still being lied to, and consequently, will only strengthen their resolve.

You're spreading YET MORE misinformation and you're trying to fool Americans into believing a history that doesn't exist! They're not buying it, and all you're doing is breeding further distrust.

If there was a run on toilet paper, wouldn't there be a run on masks?

But seems securing masks for hospital use - compulsory acquisition or paying above market rates - would be a better solution.


Edit: Everytime I point this out, I get hit by multiple downvotes

That's a pretty poor example since people had already decided covid wasn't even as dangerous as the flu.

The recipient of the highest civilian award in the US said this to his 15 million audience.

>"It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump," Limbaugh said Feb. 24 on his radio show. "Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus … I’m dead right on this. The coronavirus is the common cold, folks."

>"The drive-by media hype up this thing as a pandemic," Limbaugh continued.

Most popular cable channel said this about Covid while Covid was raging in Wuhan and Italy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAh4uS4f78o


Yeah you're getting downvoted because your championing Limbaugh and Fox News, known liars. Probably in your reality they're champions of truth, but seriously, your reality has some blind spots. Big ones.

Your citing quotes from the beginning of the pandemic. Hah, ever noticed how situations evolve and grow? Dubya didn't react when he heard about a plane hitting the first WTC tower because like everyone else, his aides probably evaluated it as an accident and not the start of an attack.

And sure, Limbaugh got awarded "the highest civilian award", but from a president who's a scumbag to a lot of other human beings. Biden also has this award, in your reality is Biden as honourable as Limbaugh? Or maybe Biden's medal wasn't worthy of him because it was "scumbag" Obama who awarded it to him?


>Yeah you're getting downvoted because your championing Limbaugh and Fox News, known liars. Probably in your reality they're champions of truth, but seriously, your reality has some blind spots. Big ones.

Uhh, I am saying the opposite. I am just pointing out the misinformation spread which has nothing to do with CDC mask advice.


I'm not sure how your examples counter what the gp is saying. Are you suggesting that the government didn't need to lie about mask effectiveness because some people weren't taking COVID seriously? Because obviously enough people took it seriously to cause a mask shortage anyway.

I'm not convinced by that narrative. I think there is still limited proof that masks make any noticeable difference. But the public demanded mask mandates (unlike things like vaccines this is very noticeable so for many people it gives them a peace of mind that something is being done), so the officials delivered. But to save face, they invented a story how they always knew masks work great, but didn't want people to do a run on masks.

This. The officials dig up a scientific story that justifies going along what their electorate among the public demands, then they back up with a cohort of white coats on TV.

Simon says we don’t have masks, so science finds masks useless.

Simon says wear masks, so science finds masks important.

It says “We’ll lie to your face just for the lols”. Also, my government inoculated AIDS to 10,000 patients in 1985 and took 6 years to admit it. This science, is not science. It’s very diligently pruned for political profit, and it works.

So “I’ll take my vaccine in 6 years” is a reasonable answer in a former communist state.


I believe a Joe Rogan podcast of the time, that I watched on youtube, featured an expert who claimed masks were basically useless

(speaking generally here at those I've seen share the same rage, not accusing you directly)

I just cannot wrap my head around being so upset that a public official lied you're willing to sever friendships, familial ties, and sacrifice your career because you refuse to follow sane and frankly manageable guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's not even that the messaging is currently or has been conflicting now. It's like carrying a grudge for years over the smallest of infractions. Are people so bored, they have nothing going on other than to get in a big tizzy about having to wear a mask?

My life has been far more impacted by university security towing my car back when I was 19 and me using a credit card to get it back. Leaving me with debt I couldn't afford for the next year or so. I clearly remember my parents, and all adults in my life, telling me to "suck it up" when I complained how unfair it was. I believe I was far more justified using the parking space at a place I paid 6 grand a semester to attend than any of those adults are now to enter private property for free without wearing a mask.

Why is it only during a global pandemic, with millions of lives on the line, do these same people all of a sudden care about the tiniest bits of hypocrisy and unfairness of our society? Of all the things to be upset about, they choose the one thing that has been proven since mid-2020 to SAVE lives? I literally cannot wrap my head around it. Just wear the fucking mask! Not wearing a mask is such a weird hill to die on...


>"because you refuse to follow sane and frankly manageable guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19."

As a point of order we can't treat "manageable guidelines" as a monolith as there have been a ton of "guidelines" and rules imposed over the last three years that were dubious, farcical, or overly intrusive. Like supermarkets cordoning off the greeting card aisle because social gatherings like parties were prohibited. Or gyms being told not to play music above a certain BPM because more intense exercise could enable Covid to spread more easily [1]. Going to the beach alone can get you arrested, but standing in a crowded Costco is acceptable. And so on. There's a lot more to the resentment and outrage than people simply being upset at the inconvenience of wearing a mask.

Plenty of small business owners and restaurateurs had their livelihoods destroyed because the government went back and forth on restrictions and enforcement.

[1] South Korea to ban music over 120bpm in gyms, in response to Covid spike : www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20210712000804


I often hear criticisms like this (and it's perfectly sound criticisms).

My counter-argument is that, at the time, given our resources and our understanding we had to take wide scale measures and a lot of compromises were made and negotiations happened between people, institutions, governments, etc. so that we wouldn't just shut down everything. I believe most of the time these oddities and weirdness are consequences of those compromises and it's still the case.

Sometimes it's easy to frame things like that and sometimes it's not (especially when the measures is only put in place for 3 days or a week. Eg when they asked people to sit alone next to train windows, rather than all next to each other or when they cordoned off books in supermarkets so bookstores that just reopened could have clients). I don't know how far off the mark I am.


You're probably overestimating covid risk (there are other polls similar to this one - this is the most recent): https://news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/354938/adults-estimat...

The media's addiction to "scare articles" as well as the government's willingness to promote noble lies puts a lot of weight towards covid risk being heavily propagandized. On top of that, complying with government orders simply because you're afraid is a dangerous way to live.

The scariest thing is how quickly propaganda can convince people others are not worth of life. The cheering of unvaccinated covid deaths is abhorrent.


>The scariest thing is how quickly propaganda can convince people others are not worth of life. The cheering of unvaccinated covid deaths is abhorrent.

I like to study history and I recall an interview with a German who lived during the holocaust. He was asked if he thought the holocaust could ever happen in the US and replied that it could happen anywhere, it's just it wouldn't necessarily happen the same way as it did in Germany. If it ever happened in the US, it would be its own unique flavor of holocaust. It was pretty chilling. People don't even realize the moral road they are traveling when they praise deaths for political "gotchas"; I guess that's what makes going down that road so easy.


Ironically that comes up with wildly inaccurate estimates itself.

> we take the average population totals over the relevant periods for each population (March 1, 2020-Aug. 9, 2021 for the unvaccinated population and Dec. 15, 2020,-Aug. 9, 2021, for the vaccinated population). The adjusted population of vaccinated people comes to 83 million and 295 million for the [un]vaccinated population

330 million Americans, less 83 million vaccinated Americans equals 247 million unvaccinated people, not 295 million.

They are also deliberately ignoring CDC estimates.

> CDC epidemiologists estimate that the actual number of hospitalizations may be 1.8 times higher than the reported number.


Begads! A Selfawarewolf in the flesh!!

It doesn't have to be rational. Vaccines mandates are already common for school children, nurses, (and maybe teachers, but I'm not sure about that one)

The rage over masks (and things like "CRT") is being intentionally stoked to win elections. The plan is to make it an us vs them issue. Again, it's intentional and cynical.

If you stoke rage about mask wearing (and vaccines) you can position yourself as also being a valiant anti-mask/anti-vax candidate and win elections on this issue.


>It doesn't have to be rational. Vaccines mandates are already common for school children, nurses, (and maybe teachers, but I'm not sure about that one)

Even this argument ignores nuance.

The vaccines in these schedules are mandated for 2 reasons

1. The diseases they treat directly impact their population in a major way in large numbers

2. Immunization not only prevents the negatives impacts of 1, but also prevent the spread.

As an exmaple for #2. Take Pertussis and TDAP. Even adults that have children will often get a booster. The reasoning is sound there, you reduce the chance of transmitting pertussis to an infant. This is especially true for premature babies that may not have had the chance to get the anitbodies from the mother, assuming she got a booster during pregnancy.

As of right now. COVID-19 has a pretty small impact on children directly ( hospitalization rates at their peak were like 1.9 per 100k for under 18 [2]) . And even nationally its much smaller than any of the diseases used to compare it to (like Measles which has pretty severe complications in like 30% of those that contracted it, regardless of age [1])

AND the vaccine isnt particularly proven to reduce spread [3]. To add insult to injury, CDC specifically stopped even recording breakthrough infection rates unless they were severe as of May 1, 2021.

So it would make sense to question a vaccination mandate for those under 18...

[1] https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/meas.html [2] https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_3.html [3] https://context-cdn.washingtonpost.com/notes/prod/default/do....


Is your argument that COVID-19 does not impact the population directly in large numbers?

Yes basically. Major complication rates for those under 18 are very low, especially when compared to other diseases in these vaccine schedules (in my example I used measles which was closer to 30%) [1][1.1][1.2] .

By far most of the major complications as a result of COVID are in populations over 45 OR with those with pre existing conditions. This qualifications are almost nonexistent in the under 18 population. At best, the hospitalization rate for those under 18 was about 1.9 per 100k. There have been, according to CDC data, 499 deaths as of 10/6/21 for those 0-17 yo [2][3].

Add to that there is evidence that vaccination doesn’t necessarily prevent transmission, and there have been breakouts where up to 70% of those involved were vaccinated it’s not entirely unreasonable to question a vaccine mandate for that population [4]. Additionally as of May 1, 2021 the CDC stopped really tracking breakthrough rates and only tracks them if they result in hospitalization, which makes it hard, if not impossible to really gather data on how effective the vaccinations used in the US are at preventing transmission.

So theres plenty of arguments to be had about being skeptical of even this argument "vaccines are mandated for kids" as it applies to THIS specific vaccine.

[1] https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_3.html

[1.1] https://gis.cdc.gov/grasp/COVIDNet/COVID19_5.html#virusTypeD...

[1.2] https://imgur.com/a/8oENuRn

[2] https://data.cdc.gov/NCHS/Provisional-COVID-19-Deaths-by-Sex...

[3] https://imgur.com/a/0W1oqlH

[4] https://bit.ly/3auVBjh


But what about the 499 deaths? Wouldn't those have been prevented?

That’s a pretty silly assumption. Those numbers are low enough it could just as easily be exigent reasons (autoimmune diseases, compromised immune systems). 2x more kids die from congenital anomalies. About the same number for heart heart defects per year. [1]

Those numbers can easily be intermixed. Not to mention kids with severe asthma or other respiratory diseases.

There’s no data that would say vaccinations would have done anything for those 499 people.

Not to mention the way many did a lot of these stats is if someone had covid and died from any cause, they were often included in the numbers.

[1] https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1804754


There's something horribly wrong with your link [3].

"The first study saw a drop of 78%, and the second 41%, in infectiousness — with the large difference in numbers perhaps explained by the fact that the estimates are based on a very small number of vaccinated people who were infected and then infected others. ... The results correspond well with studies conducted elsewhere. One analysis3 of some 365,000 households in the United Kingdom, published on 23 June, estimated that individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 were 40–50% less likely to spread the infection if they had received at least one dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine or that developed by the University of Oxford, UK, and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, UK, at least three weeks previously. A study4 from Finland, posted as a preprint on 10 July, found that spouses of infected health-care workers who had received a single dose of the Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine or that produced by Moderna in Cambridge, Massachusetts, were 43% less likely to get infected than were spouses of unvaccinated health workers." (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02054-z)

"The study shows that people who become infected with the Delta variant are less likely to pass the virus to their close contacts if they have already had a COVID-19 vaccine than if they haven’t1. But that protective effect is relatively small, and dwindles alarmingly at three months after the receipt of the second shot. ... Unfortunately, the vaccine’s beneficial effect on Delta transmission waned to almost negligible levels over time. In people infected 2 weeks after receiving the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, both in the UK, the chance that an unvaccinated close contact would test positive was 57%, but 3 months later, that chance rose to 67%. The latter figure is on par with the likelihood that an unvaccinated person will spread the virus." (https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02689-y)


Maybe this. There seems to be an issue with formatting

https://bit.ly/3auVBjh


Government-imposed vaccine mandates were never common for access to private establishments, as is now the case in NYC and LA

Philosophically speaking, It's one thing for the government to say you must be vaccinated to attend public school. It's quite another thing for them to say you must be vaccinated to enter a privately-owned gym.


Or: you must be vaccinated to go to school, AND you must go to school (until you turn into an adult). This means that you have no choice. Not getting vaccinated means you cannot go to school, and not going to school means you may be taken away from your family, or your parents getting into legal trouble. That, and of course not being able to go to school has its own repercussions.

I have a child attending private school and vaccinations are required by the state. (CA) So that’s at least one exception to that.

> I have a child attending private school and vaccinations are required by the state. (CA)

No, they aren't.

CA has announced that it will have a school student vaccine mandate, once vaccines for children are fully approved, and not earlier than next school year in any case.


Or to work remotely.

> If you stoke rage about mask wearing (and vaccines) you can position yourself as also being a valiant anti-mask/anti-vax candidate and win elections on this issue.

I'm trying to stoke awareness of how oxygen is known to be toxic, how ventilation is known to be harmful, and how patients' oxygen levels can be improved by using the antidote to oxygen toxicity that has been mostly forgotten by Science™ [0]. Sometimes patients benefit from a little extra oxygen, but it's a very fine line between helpful and too much.

Would I win an election? Maybe an anti-mask/anti-vax candidate will just adopt my term, and point out the harm being done: Medical Hyperventilation causes the deterioration supposedly being treated.

[0] https://www.taxiwars.org/2021/06/folly-medical-hyperventilat...


> The plan is to make it an us vs them issue. Again, it's intentional and cynical.

Why doesn't everyone see things clearly for what they are. If its obviously 'the plan' .


Because they started labelling such arguments as right/left wing propaganda. Labelling any criticism against you as enemy propaganda is a common strategy in authoritarian regimes, and it works really well as long as you have sowed enough hate against the enemy in people.

So even though the plan might not be obvious to those who live in the authoritarian regime, it is often very obvious for outsiders that for example the democratic peoples republic of Korea isn't really a democratic republic.


I'd argue it's because propaganda works.

I agree with you pretty much 100%. My anger is that, by not being truthful, I feel like health authorities played right into the hands of the conspiracy theorists and everyone trying to sow doubt that this is some big power grab.

To be fair, with policies like mandating masking outside, or banning outdoor activities long after it was known there virtually no outdoor transmission, or forcing vaccinations on people who had covid already, or deafening silence on any health improving measures people can take (did we really need studies showing exercise improves covid outcomes? well we have them now, after 2 years passed), or no mitigation of aerosol transmission (we have dentists installing HEPA filters, and nothing in hospitals), it is really easy to play right into the hands of conspiracy theorists...

Well, it's also a big power grab so that doesn't help.

A power grab by who? Mask manufacturers? People who don't like to look at lips? I am baffled by the belief that asking people to wear masks, in the middle of a pandemic, is a power grab by anyone.

If anything, an intervention that would make it safer to open up more businesses and public spaces should be seen as a great thing for reducing the power needed to shut these spaces in the first place.


I wasn't specifically referring to masks, but now see that the thread had gone that way. I would say, however, that doing good and grabbing power are not mutually exclusive.

I, too, am baffled by beliefs (in general) and would suggest any new powers given to authority be viewed with extreme suspicion and of limited duration before enacted.


Everyone is grabbing for their own power, for their own reasons; they feel this tailwind but they assume that it means they're right, not that they're temporarily useful to other parties with their own agendas.

Never waste a crisis.

> I just cannot wrap my head around being so upset that a public official lied you're willing to sever friendships, familial ties, and sacrifice your career because you refuse to follow sane and frankly manageable guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It's not even that the messaging is currently or has been conflicting now. It's like carrying a grudge for years over the smallest of infractions. Are people so bored, they have nothing going on other than to get in a big tizzy about having to wear a mask?

It's rare, but some of us developed actual health issues from the mask itself, be it the reduced airflow or excess humidity from trapped exhalation. I didn't make the connection for myself until this spring when the mandate was lifted and my problems completely went away.

So, I have no intention of wearing masks ever again, regardless of mandates.

It's not just a grudge or being stubborn when people are asking you to actively hurt yourself.


Emotions can, and often do guide people to do stupidest decisions of their lives that will effectively ruin it, or even kill them. You can't reason with such a person. And getting through the firewall of those emotions, for somebody often on the opposite side of the argument is practically impossible. I suspect IQ level plays a role too (critical thinking not only towards the world but also oneself).

The more you push, the more resistance there is. Doesn't matter how right you are and how wrong they are.

What covid highlighted like thermonuclear blast is how many people in general population are weird, naive, paranoid and basically... dumb, for the lack of better words. Also how internet amplifies the good and the bad equally.

200 years ago it would be just some random quiet weird dude that you don't have desire to talk to, today its a self-proclaimed patriot who thinks got the ultimate truth in contrary to general population. In their own echo chambers, this spirals into some pretty weird crowd mechanics.

There is no win of argument. There is no going back. In this regard we moved a bit back to the middle ages. And yes, politicians fucked up pretty big time, almost every single one.


The wonderful thing about your statement is it is unclear just what “side” is correct.

You say “ The more you push, the more resistance there is. Doesn't matter how right you are and how wrong they are.”

That applies a ton to a bunch of ”pro mitigation” people out there who absolutely refuse to look at the data and science. Both strongly show that covid “badness” is very strongly correlated with age to the extent that the median age of death is higher than the average human life expectancy. Kids are almost completely unaffected by covid.


One only need look at Sweden and their results. They took minimal action, allowed the youngest to remain in school w/o masks, and only canceled large events. We are now starting to see the all-cause mortality stats and they are proving Sweden's approach minimized the most harm.

Do you have a source that Sweden minimized the most harm (and the definition of harm in this case)? I’m not saying this is wrong I just haven’t heard of this fact before and I’m interested in reading the study for myself. Thanks!

E.g. their COVID deaths per capita stats place them at, I think, about position 50. The UK with much harsher restrictions sits at position 25.


And there has been this background ambient energy of "Big Pharma is evil, the Sacklers ..." (which I find rather scapegoaty for the Sacklers in particular) which just immediately ran afoul of "You should definitely trust in these vaccines produced by Big Pharma, the ones we have been telling you are so greedy/evil/incompetent."

Then you have some discussion of what "gain of function" means and ...

Well, the distrust the American public has in Science! has been earned over decades. The ever-changing food pyramid (according to the whims of whatever lobbying group), reefer madness scares leading cannibis to be Schedule I of all things (harmful, of no utility), cigarettes are healthy, we need to put these forever chemicals into your sofas so you don't catch on fire (oh well they don't work but we are leaving them in), thalidomide, diethylstilbesterol ...

And all of it has been sold with a pat and a don't worry your pretty head about it. COVID-19 is just another photon in the background radiation of Science We Tell You To Trust.

It's a shame, my BS was in a hard science, but when I run into skeptics, well, they've learned it and we've earned it.


The American has good reason to distrust science (see my other comments), but Thalidomide is not one of them. To its credit, the FDA did not approve thalidomide at the same time as other countries thus mainly preventing the birth defects.

Of course, then you read about Diethylstillbesterol, and your faith in american public scientists is once again crushed.


> the ones we have been telling you are so greedy/evil/incompetent."

I haven't seen any claims of incompetency, only of greed (to the lev of being evil) - is that an actual theme or did you just lump that in? It's a significant different in this context.


Is this not the same pattern that happens to every human endeavor though, and not just science? Business interests step in and market themselves as good faith experts creating enlightened progress, when really they're con artists trading on the reputation of the real experts to sell harmful products.

The same problem happens in the tech world with two decades of "don't be evil" and messaging about the fantastic future, culminating in the Big Tech dystopia. The whole time it has been obvious they've been building a massive humanity-crushing surveillance/control machine. But up until recently, even on HN, the prevailing groupthink has been to unquestioningly drink the corporate kool aid. "It's hard to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it"

Technologists, scientists, etc themselves aren't the problem. The real problem is that our society encourages con men at every turn - from the individual rejection of boring experts (filled in by charismatic charlatans), to advertising (since everything is relative, fraud is fine), to the utter lack of punishment after a con blows up ("white collar crime"). We've put business expedience above honesty, essentially equating morality with profitability, with the result being that every institution has become hollow.


> Well, the distrust the American public has in Science! has been earned over decades.

If we split apart what the power structures say is "Science" and what Science actually is, we find the same dynamic as been since time immemorial. A priestly class with their guarded knowledge, meted out to us poor rubes in oversimplified commandments. A monk class whose esoteric studies are hidden from view, filed away in the annals of religious letters, Scientific journals, dissertations in libraries...the like.

What a time to live in though! The internet and YouTube and open access journals--Science has never been more accessible and understandable, animated, and illustrated, like it is now!

But we are in a wash of disinformation and misinformation and lying and rage, too.

Yes, the power structures are coming unglued. But Science is about truth. If only we could get our pants on and coax the crazies off the ledge.

> it has been sold with a pat and a don't worry your pretty head about it.

It's because we are treating grown adults like unruly children, dumbing everything down to the least common denominator, at times striking them with an iron rod, at times bending over backwards because Biology class was boring in highschool and the last thing we can afford in the age of distraction is to be boring!

No! We should make Science fun! If we are going to treat people like kids because they don't know Science then at least make it fun for them to catch back up! We should get people excited about discovering and learning new things again, the way a Carl Sagan could. Instead of threatening, we should be seducing and luring people into the terrifying prospect of finally figuring out how shit works.


Not just US, I would say there's a large number of very well educated people even in well off countries who have a large amount of hesitation toward this mainly due to information handling and lack of transparency. (Yes there is a very vocal anti-vax nut job crowd, but frankly that will always be there, and is always different to those who object to policy decisions on moral grounds of their failings and the deaths that poor policy leads to)

The only nice message for "please take a vaccine for something that won't kill you "is "please take it to stop it killing others". Given the USA seems to treat getting ill as a personal failing that will destroy your life and society turns it's back on you I'm not shocked that it would fall on deaf ears.


I don't think it's an issue of seeing illness as a personal failing - that's just dismissive and an unhelpful characterization.

People I know that choose to not get vaccinated yet are largely resistant to the 'do it for others' push because we've been told that the vaccine is so effective that the 'others' should be safe anyway, unless they've chosen not to get the vaccine too. That leaves these people with a risk assessment based solely on their own health, age, etc.


Well, it's worse than that.

The "for the good of society" messaging has been very unstable, even moreso than normal for public health messaging. It's been a mix of: the elderly will take the vaccines because they're at high risk and then life can go back to normal. Then it became all adults need to take it to build herd immunity (the concept that in 2020 was supposedly some sort of a-scientific conspiracy theory), then it became life won't go back to normal even with high vaccination rates, then passes were introduced that have an exception for testing i.e. they look like an attempt to stop spread of the virus, but then it became clear that vaccines don't stop the spread yet the passes remained the same or even had the testing exemption removed. Then it became something about hospital capacity but they started firing healthcare workers en-masse, then it became all teenagers need to take it to stop schools closing and/or to protect their mental health (UK justification), but schools closing is itself a government/union policy, now Pfizer is trialling vaccines for babies. So who knows what the justification for that will be. But, we can be sure they'll find one.

It's been less than a year and that's not even all the changes in vaccination messaging, just the ones related to why everyone has to take it even if they don't personally want to. I'm honestly not sure I even got them all. That's been combined with very strong messaging that anyone who doubts the perfect omniscient competence of the public health establishment are crazy loons who need to be purged from society, with some of the nastiest and most aggressive tactics deployed by western governments against their own peoples for a long time.

Really don't see a way to recover trust in vaccination after the rollercoaster messaging over this year. There's no consistency anywhere which strongly implies the collectivist goal is chosen, then scientific-sounding justifications are invented to justify it. By next week this comment will be out of date and more stuff will need to be added to the list.


What government group said that the non-vaccinated were safe anyway? Do you have a single source?

I suggest you reread the parent post. I think you have inverted the message.

I think distrust is a larger extant problem for a variety of reasons. Antivax is a manifestation of it, but not unique.

In my personal life, I was deeply affected by the guidance that was given by authorities on 9/11 re: evacuation. The decision made by the police was pragmatic “we don’t know the downside of evacuation, which creates more problems as the situation at ground level is bad”, but killed more people than it saved. I have a close friend who is alive today because he chose to ignore the instructions, and has suffered from survivors guilt for not taking more people with him.

My way of handling that is that I get well acquainted with my buildings and evacuation procedures, and get myself and my people out if anything happens, and don’t care about the PA. It’s a selfish position that may create more hazards to others, but that’s my position.

I think antivax and hesitancy is a similar attempt to address risk, but with an impact that mostly affects others. The same industry that gave you opioid addiction gives you a vaccine. The vocal anti-everything people are able to pull on that string of doubt.


>In my personal life, I was deeply affected by the guidance that was given by authorities on 9/11 re: evacuation. The decision made by the police was pragmatic “we don’t know the downside of evacuation, which creates more problems as the situation at ground level is bad”, but killed more people than it saved. I have a close friend who is alive today because he chose to ignore the instructions, and has suffered from survivors guilt for not taking more people with him.

The Grenfell Tower fire in London is another example of this. If you look at the official timelines for the fire; when the fire was reported, when the fire spread, when the fire started killing people, one thing becomes clear: if building evacuation had begun when the fire was reported, then few if any would have died.

Official instructions for people living in London highrises was, and to my knowledge still is, to stay put. The building only had one staircase and everybody rushing for it might have caused a stampede... except that was bad advice even so. The fire was called in at 0:54 and isn't known to have spread to another unit until 1:15, more than twenty minutes later. If a building wide fire alarm had triggered an evacuation at 0:54, there would have been plenty of time to get virtually everybody out through that single staircase. The first reports of people trapped by smoke arrived by 1:30, nearly 40 minutes after the fire was called in; 40 minutes after the general evacuation could have begun. A general evacuation was not called until 2:47, nearly two hours after the fire was called in. Two hours too late.

My two take-aways from this: I have a lot more trust in American fire codes, particularly an appreciation for the importance of running general evacuation drills twice a year (the whole building clears out easily in five minutes.) And secondly, that I would never trust the British government's recommendations in an emergency; I would look out for myself instead and evacuate immediately, damn the consequences.


The more I deal with various government systems/entities, the more I realize the level of incompetence and misinformation that exists. Also the lack of transparency and accountability.

> "please take it to stop it killing others"

Given that the vaccine doesn't work to stop transmissions, I'd reckon this was just another way for the "experts" to further loose trust with the public.


> Given that the vaccine doesn't work to stop transmissions,

Nothing is perfect, but vaccination reduces transmission significantly:

> Two studies from Israel, posted as preprints on 16 July, find that two doses of the [Pfizer] vaccine ... are 81% effective at preventing SARS-CoV-2 infections. And vaccinated people who do get infected are up to 78% less likely to spread the virus to household members than are unvaccinated people.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-02054-z


Important to note that both of these studies are on pre-Delta variant patient sets, so unlikely to represent current real world impact on transmission from vaccination. This [0] is the most recent I've seen, and it suggests the reduction in transmission against Delta is smaller and wanes rapidly, even with the mRNA vaccines.

[0] https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.09.28.21264260v...


The experts selling it? The experts politically mandating the pisspoor sales contracts?

Or the experts who say a natural response to covid is better and that they'll be sued for saying this publically after the reddit "I know science mob" is through with them?...

Frankly it was about capacity. If enough get critically I'll we go into triage and kill oaps by prioritising treatment. The fact the vaccine is linked with less severe symptoms proves it would statistically save lives. The crowd insisting children get vaxed are just hypochondriacs or those who fail to understand statistics. (Or those refusing to share vaccines with the at risk in foreign countries who will almost certainly die compared to have to take time off school...)


Looks like we agree? That people should take the vaccine to save themselves (from having to go into the hospital and be triaged...)

But frankly if our healthcare wasn't stretched to breaking point we wouldn't be seeing so much triage.

And if the vaccine actually was a complete vaccine at the same efficacy of wet vaccine from other diseases then transmission would drop and we wouldn't be talking about boosters, catching it after vaccination and frankly the estimates of total hospitalisation rates due to covid were about as reliable as a chocolate tea pot.


Frankly it justified the huge expense in buying the defective product after contracting away the right to sue IMO... Given the media reporting in the really days made this vaccine seem like it'd be a guaranteed "cures what ails ya"...

Just look at data of percentage of people vaccinated in the western world where supply is actually available for anyone to take the vaccine right now. The US is last.

There is something specific to the US here.


And look at the geographical distributions of low vaccine rates. Is very low in very wealthy parts of the UK where house prices are astronomical vs high dentisty pupation centers.

Why should most of London be at a higher vaccination rates than Oxford or Cambridge city centres? There is clear hesitancy here of some small groups that live near universities and make up <5% of the population. (Source ONS UK stats)


It is hard to understate the damage. The loss of national cohesion, the exacerbated division caused by the "choose your own reality" consequences of no longer having trustworthy institutions. And maybe worse of all, the self-fulfilling nature of distrust. When you do not trust someone, and they know it, they have no incentive to behave in a trust-worthy manner. It will take a long time to dig the country's self-image out of the hole dug during the pandemic.

>consequences of no longer having trustworthy institutions.

Those institutions just spent years getting called deep state by half the country, systemically racist by the other half and in the pockets of entrenched and moneyed interests by both. Color me shocked that nobody trusts them.

The same people who were so happy a year and change ago to earn cheap internet virtue points trotting out tropes about about how the noble FAA has been neutered by Boeing and the revolving door are complaining that people don't trust the CDC. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

This is a feedback loop. The lower the expectations from these institutions (government, academia, etc.) the less they have to lose by behaving poorly and the more they will behave poorly. It will get worse until it gets so bad it starts getting better.


See "The Evolution of Trust" which was posted on HN a few times, simulating how trust is created and destroyed, with reference to game theory. I don't think it covers institutional trust, but is interesting nonetheless:

https://ncase.me/trust/


> It is hard to understate the damage.

It is hard to overstate the damage.


> The loss of national cohesion,

It may be you have the causality backwards here.


Like pretty much everyone in this thread, who are at the very least failing to acknowledge the fact that this is a feedback loop.

I'd be a lot more willing to acknowledge the notion that the media and government are so terrible if the alternatives that most people have chosen to trust instead weren't so laughably bad sources in comparison.

This isn't people making an informed judgement about what sources to best trust, it's people being caught in a wave of bullshit and not actually thinking about anything. A lot of the comments here in this chain are just part of the wave.


Vetting an information source can be extraordinarily difficult in this day and age, at least for those looking for more than confirmation of their world views. There is an ocean of well funded, profession disinformation out there. Telling BS from fact is barely doable for the technical elites who gather in this forum and it certainly cannot be expected from the average citizen. This is why the corruption of our sense making institutions and the unavoidable loss of trust is so devastating to the fabric of our culture. This is a very big deal and blaming the stupid rubes that believe obvious BS (to us smart people anyway) might feel good but its not just missing the point, it is actually making things worse.

An interesting hypothesis, somewhat damaged by the fact that trust in the CDC was uniformly high across political affiliations pre-pandemic: https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/04/09/public-holds...

> Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine.

Some never will. But it's been less than two years. If they started telling the truth, the real truth, the hard truths, and kept at it, consistently, for two or five or ten years, at least some of them would come around.

Oh, yeah, and if you stopped trying to manipulate and force them. Treat people like grown-ups, even when they disagree with you, even when you think they're wrong, even when you think the data proves they're wrong. In case you[1] haven't noticed, people aren't robots that will do what you want. They are fiercely independent, and they resent being forced into something, and they will fight you just because you're trying to force them, whether or not what you're trying to get them to do is a good thing.

[1] "You" here does not refer to you, gentle reader. It refers to the "you" in authority who think that they can force people to get vaccinated without it backfiring spectacularly.


Fully agree.

One of the best takes I read on this argued that the public health institutions failed the US because they were so intent on forcing outcomes ("don't buy masks") rather than, as you said, simply saying hard truths and giving guidance.

People can tell when they're being talked down to, and there's been a lot of that since this started. I don't even think anyone's doing it maliciously, they're just really, really bad at PR.

Now, I think there are plenty of people who over-corrected for this and love endlessly nursing a grudge against Evil Big Government. That's on them.


Genuinely asking: how does this compare with other safety mandates like seatbelts? Those were also government mandated and highly unpopular for the exact same reasons.

Seat belt mandates:

- Have accumulated evidence of well quantified effectiveness, however small.

- Have no practical downsides, even speculative.

- Practically are not 100% enforceable, and therefore are not 100% adhered too. Technical means of enforcement (like beeping) are lame and easily bypassed, at least for now.

- Are related to a man-made activity of reasonably increased danger and, importantly, licensed. Someone may choose not to participate in such activity (driving), with relatively low downsides. Public health mandates are, effectively, an attempt to license the mere existence.

- Do not have religious symbolism attached to it. No one is ever yelled on by strangers for not having a seatbelt fastened. No one has a sticker on their facebook photo saying "proudly wearing my seatbelt".

- Seatbelts are "reversible", i.e. you don't wear them for life. You are not forced to have seatbelt mounting points implanted in your body. You cannot "un-vaccinate", though, if it ends up a bad decision.


> Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine

I suspect it's more than just "the vaccine" (assuming "the" refers to the covid vaccines); it's an overall regression in the trust of health officials that will take decades to rebuild.

We had a pretty well built system of trust for health officials. Everything from a standard set of vaccines being a requirement at schools to CDC guidance being taken fairly seriously. There were folks who distrusted this system, but it was (at least I felt like it was) _fringe_.

The COVID response put all of these systems in the spotlight. It made a lot of people who previously trusted the system ask questions they never bothered to ask before. They may have asked these questions about how COVID was handled, but these are _general questions_ about the trustworthiness of the official health channels. The doubt that was sown isn't isolated to COVID. Regardless of where you personally stand on any of this, the way "official" channels handled the pandemic burned trust for a large portion of the population.

Fixing this is going to be a long road.


I think what frustrates me is not that we would doubt the trustworthiness of these institutions, I think it's a pretty common ebb and flow of trust, but how so many people seem to try to convince so many other people to distrust these institutions. The "they're lying to you, they're gonna take everything from you" rhetoric which doesn't necessarily create the doubt or fear but seems to amplify it, driving society further apart.

In a way, I agree a lot with the original article in that one of the best ways to flip the switch and rebuild trust is to lead with trust...of people's intentions and abilities.

This year has challenged me and I think so many of us in how to not only trust our institutions but our friends, neighbors, and family. I hope that we recognize it's ok to doubt and that most of us have no idea what we're doing, we're trying our best to get by, including those who frustrated me with their arguments to distrust others.

It may be a long road and yet, super clichély, it starts with some of us taking the first step.


"they're lying to you ... rhetoric"

I think it depends on the definition of rhetoric you are using, and how you've framed the argument. Not everyone who said "they're lying to you" also said "they're going to take everything from you"

I think the point of this article is that official health channels _were_ being dishonest - through their use of rhetoric, lying by omission, etc.

Saying official health channels were dishonest during COVID doesn't fit the common definition of "rhetoric."

Official health channels were playing a trolley game and didn't trust the public to be "in on the game." Without knowing the game, you don't know which set of tracks you are standing on. If you know a trolley is coming, and the official channels have demonstrated they are being dishonest, you should not trust them when they tell you "switch to this track, we promise we aren't sending any trolleys down it." At best, you are the lucky group being put on the life boats. At worse, you are the smaller of two statistics.

Some of the trolley games I saw early on, where I personally lost trust in these channels:

---

What they said: this isn't a pandemic.

The game: this is a pandemic, but we don't want to cause a rush on supplies.

If you weren't buying supplies in preparation for the imminent lockdown, you were standing on the wrong set of tracks and the official health channels lied to you.

---

What they said: the public doesn't need masks for this pandemic

The game: we need to make sure hospitals have masks

Masks worked to reduce the spread of COVID under specific circumstances. You should have been wearing one during the early days of the hockystick. If you didn't go out and buy a few early on, you were standing on the wrong set of tracks and the official health channels lied to you.

---

Trust is earned, not given. You don't earn my trust by sending trolleys barreling down the tracks at my friends and family.


> I think it depends on the definition of rhetoric you are using, and how you've framed the argument. Not everyone who said "they're lying to you" also said "they're going to take everything from you"

> I think the point of this article is that official health channels _were_ being dishonest - through their use of rhetoric, lying by omission, etc.

What I meant by "they're lying to you and going to take everything from you" rhetoric was more about the litany of TV commercials and certain TV hosts that seem to pepper their sentences with very emotionally loaded words that imply evil intent or almost a malicious indifference to not just actions by the CDC but by so many institutions in society. I think I just feel so frustrated and overwhelmed by a constant hum I hear of "the world is out to get you."

That being said, I strongly agree with you that many parts of the US Federal Government, including parts of the CDC, communicated in a way that would lead people to distrust them, either through lies of omission, flat out lies, false certainty, or conflicted messaging across the people and organizations. I agree with the article in that, especially about the masks, many people in the government did not openly express the uncertainty of the situation and trust in the citizens to not only to be kind to each other but to have the ability to adapt and maintain solidarity throughout. I much more appreciated the way that, from what I remember, the New Zealand Prime Minister asked citizens for their help, instead of just telling them what to do or not do (I could be wrong on that, can't find the video at the moment).

---

I appreciate your point about the trolley games. In looking back, maybe one of the reasons I didn't lose a lot of trust in the CDC was because I had other sources around the world, namely a friend in Hong Kong, who was strongly warning me about it and giving me instructions on how to stay safe, from masking, to disrobing in the garage, to washing the grocery bags, etc. I recognize not everyone was as lucky and some people have suffered grave consequences as a result.

Regarding those examples, I think I remember the CDC communicating those differently. Perhaps I'm misremembering, I don't think I ever got the impression they never called it a pandemic. Maybe in Jan and Feb, but I think once the WHO declared it a pandemic and around the time the NBA and NCAA basketball closed, I'm pretty sure the CDC was also calling it a pandemic.

I just found this article[1] from Feb 26, 2020, entitled "Covid-19: Why won't the WHO officially declare a coronavirus pandemic?", in which it says:

> The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the covid-19 virus already meets two of its three criteria for a pandemic: it spreads between people, and it kills.

> The third is that it has to spread worldwide. The virus is now in 38 countries – and counting – on nearly all continents, and those are just the ones we know about. How much more worldwide does it need to be?

It makes me wonder whether the CDC itself even has the authority to declare a pandemic, since it doesn't operate worldwide.

I also found an article[2] talking about how a meme was going around Facebook saying the CDC removed the word "pandemic" from its site, which I don't remember happening and which the article seems to strongly dispute with many links:

> We rate this claim as FALSE. The meme is wrong. The COVID-19 outbreak, though often described that way, is still a pandemic and has been since March 11.

Regarding the wearing of masks, yes, I mostly agree that even if these orgs didn't outright say "you don't need masks" (as the Surgeon General did in a tweet)[3], they still advised them only for people who were working in hospitals, taking care of people who were sick, or who were experiencing symptoms themselves. At least up until April 3, 2020, when the CDC recommended all people wear masks in public[4] (although Trump said he would not).

> What they said: the public doesn't need masks for this pandemic

> The game: we need to make sure hospitals have masks

So yes, I think from the end of February (maybe earlier) until beginning of April, the CDC didn't recommend wearing masks for the general public and those who were in the hard hit areas at those times could have been really hurt and/or killed as a result and I wish they had communicated more clearly and openly about this. I don't necessarily agree the game was explicitly "we know the masks work for the public and yet we are worried people will hoard them so we will lie to them and tell them only hospital workers need them." I think it was a concern they would run out of PPE for hospital workers and I also think they were unsure how well masks would help the general public, mostly because they didn't seem to know covid-19 transmitted as asymptomatically as it has.

---

I guess I just often see trust as a choice. Do I believe that they knew with strong certainty that a mask would help me and chose to lie to me because they didn't trust that I would not hoard them? Do I believe that they were quite scared about hospitals not having PPE, confident that the virus only spread through symptomatic infection, and unsure if masks would actually help people without symptoms?

At the end of the day, I'll almost never certainly know. I guess I just choose to believe the latter because it helps me rebuild trust in them and feel a little safer going forward.

[1]: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2235342-covid-19-why-wo...

[2]: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/09/18/fac...

[3]: https://web.archive.org/web/20200303020926/https://twitter.c...

[4]: https://www.fastcompany.com/90612519/seriously-people-stop-b...


With how governments have behaved I absolutely understand why people would distrust them and to be honest, I have absolutely zero trust in government right now too. They put politics and driving wedges between people to further entrench their positions (a bunch of provinces and our feds all called snap elections during Covid) over honesty and people. Even now instead of trying to assuage the fears of the vaccine hesitant, they just demonise and threaten them.

Personally, the only trust I have is that a bunch of PhDs making vaccines care about solving a hard problem, so I got the vaccine. Not that I was ever worried about Covid itself, I had Covid during wave 1, had contact with a bunch of Covid positive people in wave 2 without contracting it again, etc...


[flagged]


This is a complete mischaracterization, and bordering on a lie at this point.

She was very specific about not taking it because President Trump said so (rightly, given Trump's history of promoting improving treatments). But you don't have to take my work for it, read her's:

"If Dr. Fauci, the doctors, tell us that we should take it, I'll be the first in line to take it. But if Donald Trump tells us we should take it, I'm not going to take it."

Only by omitting the first line can you argue that she was going to refuse the vaccine. And that is exactly what many Right-wing outlets have been doing, and that is a lie.


Your characterization is even more misleading than theirs. Do you seriously think Trump created the vaccine himself and it didn't go through the FDA and scientists or anything else?

The mere existence of the vaccine should be enough for her but no if Trump said something she won't take it.


This is an English subtlety. There is an implied negation of the other condition and an implied independence.

“If my wife tells me to eat cauliflower I will. If you tell me to, I won’t.”

A literal interpretation is that if you tell me to eat cauliflower I will avoid cauliflower altogether. The natural English interpretation translates to “Your endorsement of cauliflower will mean nothing to my choice of action”. Funny, eh?


Why would she say anything at all then? It would be impossible for Trump alone to authorize and recommend the vaccines. To many Democrats at the time this statement sowed doubts about the vaccines. My parents said they wouldn't get "Trump's vaccine". What you are failing to acknowledge is that how you understand the statement is not how everyone would interpret it, and many interpreted it as being against the vaccines because Trump was "rushing" them.

I don't hear this being brought up by Democrats at all. And if you look at the statistics by party on who is getting vaccinated I think it is pretty stark that this is not having much of an effect. So even if that caused some Democrats to think that at the time, they seem to have gotten over that.

Looking at the both the statistics, and what media sources are pushing anti-vax sentiments, I don't think your argument has much of a leg to stand on. It is distorting a statement to try and justify a "they are bad", or a "they are bad too" attitude.


Ironically, those PHDs you trust are the most hesitant

That study turned out to be based on unreliable self-reported education level:

https://coronavirus.quora.com/Is-it-true-that-PhDs-are-the-m...


When the study authors themselves say that the results should be taken with a grain of salt because they used a "novel sampling methodology", that's usually a sign that you want to take the results with a grain of salt.

Source please. I know a number of PHDs, and they were all early in line to get vaccines. I have not seen numbers for PHDs (only MDs), but I would be willing to wager that the vaccine rates for PHDs have been high the whole time. Certainly not without notable exceptions, but you get kooks in every group.

Talking about the ones specifically working for the pharmaceuticals. I don't particularly like the companies, but I trust that the smart people working for them want to solve problems.

Don't really care about the opinions of any random PhD (I know a few, most know their field and little else).


> the belittling and censoring of voices that were skeptical of the narratives, which engendered even more distrust

What are examples of this? Most of the U.S. was quite loose about lockdowns and mask requirements until their specific geography got hit. (For example, I summered in the Smoky Mountains June of 2020. Compared to New York, it was as if nothing had happened. The tone changed by December, after the South had its wave.)

To the extent there was belittling, it was around the promotion of treatments, a set of claims that has always been tightly regulated. (Also, the early, intentional miscommunications around the efficacy of N95 masks, which was horrible.)


> What are examples of this?

Ever tried to express even the smallest amount of criticism? People you know in real life will rip you apart and call you very horrible things.

The gaslighting and level of sanctimonious nonsense has been out of this world.

I’ve been called “dangerous” for merely posting screenshots of public health department data.

People are nuts!


It's not that people are "nuts" as such. They're scared and, more often now, terrified. Scared people aren't known for their ability to reason.

Its why governments often abuse fear for political means. Its rocket fuel for propaganda.


Massive, coordinated, media-sponsored mocking of people who discuss Ivermectin, calling them stupid horse paste guzzlers. I don't know if works for covid, but there is enough serious data and published science for a normal conversation to be had about it, instead of disdain, ridicule and suppression.

It also completely ignores the fact that ivermectin, whatever its merits for covid are, is an actual human medication. It is not a veterinary drug, although it has utility in animals too.

Isn't it as a prescription-only drug for humans (as a dewormer)? In that case, everybody who considers self-medicating with Ivermectin would be using the veterinary supplies (because they can more easily buy the intended-for-horses version), which the associated risks of overdosing.

It's a protease inhibitor as well as anti parasitic. Much easier to get the animal brands. Overdosing is difficult unless your doing it on purpose. People ingesting the pour on cattle version or consuming products that mix ivermectin with other related but unsafe active ingredients likely caused the very small number of legitimate issues.

For me, taking ivermectin and having it clear up my long covid almost instantly was great. Then weeks later witnessing this coordinated take down was a real turning point for me. Hard to trust anything now.


It's an antiparasitic. Prescription only yes I believe.

An example that jumps to mind is all of the media and academics that opposed the theory that the virus was a lab leak in china, primarily because Trump espoused the view. As much as Trump deserved ridicule, that was a perfectly valid theory.

Another that was roundly mocked was Trump's idea about bringing "UV light inside the body" as a treatment. Lo and behold a year or so later.. [0]

>Ultraviolet light treatments introduced into the tracheas of five critically ill COVID-19 patients appeared to be safe and associated with a reduction in the respiratory load of SARS-CoV-2—the virus responsible for COVID-19—in all but one patient, according to a study conducted by Cedars-Sinai.

[0] https://www.cedars-sinai.org/newsroom/reduced-viral-loads-se...


I have no link, but at the time everyone was falling off their chairs laughing at Trump some company was involved in trials of some sort with a similar technology with the FDA.

The human mind is the most amazing phenomenon, simultaneously so amazingly capable yet so silly.



Censorship is not what causes large numbers of US citizens to refuse this vaccine. If the Republicans in leadership positions took this seriously from the start and did not go around casting doubt on vaccination far more people would get the vaccine. If the previous president had not politicized the response to COVID and had simply told his followers to do what the CDC says we would have many millions more people getting the vaccine (and for the matter, hundreds of thousands of people would still be alive).

Don't let the Republicans off the hook. This should never have been a political issue, but Republican leaders at every level of government made this political and continue to politicize the pandemic.


The previous president was and is extremely pro-vaccine. People claim there is a large republican cohort of anti-vax politicians, but there is not. There is a large GOP cohort of anti-vax-mandate politicians, but being against a mandate does not mean being anti vax, unless you're changing the meaning.

> If the previous president had not politicized the response to COVID and had simply told his followers to do what the CDC says we would have many millions more people getting the vaccine (and for the matter, hundreds of thousands of people would still be alive).

You are accusing Trump of politicizing COVID while ignoring Andrew Cuomo, who at the beginning of the pandemic, used COVID, and the fact he was not Trump, for his political advantage, and the media gushed and was happy to give him more airtime than Trump, despite the fact it was obvious from the very beginning that New York State's handling was much worse than Trumps.


Trump literally still calls it the "Trump Vaccine". Also I think people forget how much airtime went into "the vaccine isn't the answer" once Trump started talking about warp speed and the second the election was over it was "the vaccine is the only answer".

I think you can blame a lot on Trump and repubs with regards to protocols, level of concern, being actively anti-mask, etc but it takes a very selective memory to act like Trump wasn't 1000% on board with the vaccine.

Examples:

- Past vaccine disasters show why rushing a coronavirus vaccine now would be 'colossally stupid' By Jen Christensen, CNN Updated 11:34 AM EDT, Tue September 01, 2020

- CNN: The timetable for a coronavirus vaccine is 18 months. Experts say that's risky By Robert Kuznia Updated 2:14 PM EDT, Wed April 01, 2020

- Here's where we stand on getting a coronavirus vaccine By Holly Yan, CNN Updated 1:45 PM EDT, Mon June 08, 2020

- With big talk and hurled insults, the gloves come off in the race for the coronavirus vaccine By Elizabeth Cohen, CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Updated 7:00 AM EDT, Wed May 27, 2020

> (CNN)Ethicists and physicians are concerned that, amid a desire to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic, developers of drugs and vaccines have become overly enthusiastic about the chances their products will work.


Correct. This is one of the few areas where trump seemingly disagrees with his own base. Sites like patriots.win (remnants of thedonald) criticize trump for his vax support.

I am very confused when you say "previous president" and pro-vaccine. Are you not referring to Trump? He was talking anti-vax stuff during the 2016 primary debates. He retweeted conflation of vaccination and autism in 2014.

You are conflating issues. This thread is about the COVID vaccine, which Trump has promoted constantly. Please do not distract from the issue.

Prominent Democrats also cast doubt on vaccine safety. The governor of California essentially stated that he didn't trust the FDA and insisted on doing another safety review before authorizing vaccines for use in the state. This was inexcusable political behavior on both sides.

https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/10/27/western-states-join-califo...


That was done in response to concerns that Trump was trying to push the FDA to approve the vaccines faster to serve his own political ambitions:

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/03/politics/white-house-fda-coro...

https://apnews.com/article/donald-trump-business-mark-meadow...

Moreover, Gov. Newsom's statements did not say that the vaccines were unsafe; he simply said that he was establishing an independent panel of scientists to evaluate the same evidence that the FDA evaluated. At no point did he say that people should seek ivermectim or hydroxychloroquin or that people should just rely on natural immunity.

Even if Newsom did the wrong thing here, it is a far cry from the Republicans, who have pushed the narrative that people should feel no specific obligation to get vaccinated because of "freedom." Trump has stood before crowds of vaccine-hesitant supporters and said, "Get the shot if you want to." Republican governors have echoed that sentiment. The results speak for themselves: Democrats have higher vaccination rates and Democrat-leaning areas have lower infection and lower hospitalization rates compared to Republicans.


Since the inception of the FDA, when else have state governments independently verified drugs like this? It is clearly a signal that one ought not to trust the FDA. Is it any surprise that large cohorts of the democratic party (namely, their non-white cohorts) do not want to get the drug? I am not surprised.

> "Get the shot if you want to."

That is exactly what any sane person should say. Trump is pro-vaccine. He has unequivocally said he has had it and thinks it's a good idea. He's just anti-mandate. You can be pro-vaccine (as in you believe others should get it), while being against a mandate. This is insanity. The expectation that one must believe that the government ought to require a vaccine in order to not be anti-vax is quite the shift of goal posts.


I think you make a good point here that someone can be pro-vaccine while being against a mandate. I hadn't thought of it that way. I don't really see many Republicans going out of their way recommending vaccines though, either. Trump got his in secret initially.

Sensor Mitch McConnell: "I’m glad to share that a few minutes ago, I received a booster vaccination for COVID-19."

https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2021/9/mcc...

You can find plenty more similar statements by Republicans if you bother to look.


Thanks for sharing this. Looks like Senator John Cornyn and Senator Mitt Romney support the COVID vaccines, too [1]. Good to know.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/14/us/politics/gop-covid-vac...


Have you even bothered watching something like fox news before writing your comments. Literally every story about the covid vax they'll talk about how it's important to speak with your doctor because it's an important tool to fight covid but that it's... Up to you

* Senator, not sensor (damn autocorrect)

Except Trump is constantly on conservative talk radio pushing the vaccine. In fact, sites like Patriots.win are full of Trump supporters who criticize him for pushing the vax. that's like the only thing they don't like about him. Just the other day he was on hannity pushing the vaccine.

no disrespect but i know plenty of liberals who will not get the vaccine. the media turned it into a bi-partisan issue when in all actuality it was a government handling issue in which the rest were used as scapegoats. you remember that they gave themselves raises while the rest of us were told not to go into work. which obviously we are gonna listen if we believe that covid is as dangerous as the scientist were saying, the main issue and the reason why blockchain (primary crypto) technology took last year was because of the censorship issues. people do not want amazon to shut down a website because it disagrees with their narrative, they don’t want facebook, reddit or payment processors shutting things down for those same reasons. so the push towards even more decentralizing is going to happen. but to clear things up, this is decentralized together, not the traditional sense of decentralization.

you cannot censor someone you disagree with and expect them to be okay with it. you make them a slave to your narrative, and if they become slaves, they will push to make you a slave as well by whatever means necessary. see texas abortion bans. it’s what Gandhi said, “an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind” or a more modern version would be “that which we resist, persist”. this is common knowledge, when push comes to shove, the shoved push back. but the problem is, we end up in a loop, where both parties lose more and more of their civil liberties to PWN their perceived enemy. it’s odd that a lot of adults don’t understand this basic concept.

down vote all you want, it doesn’t make it any less true


>no disrespect but i know plenty of liberals who will not get the vaccine

No disrespect, just statistics [1].

Democrat:Republican ratio among is about 3:5 among the unvaccinated (and about 2:1 among the vaccinated).

>you make them a slave to your narrative, and if they become slaves, they will push to make you a slave as well by whatever means necessary

With all due respect, the example you gave of that is the behavior of the Republican party (abortion bans in Texas). I can provide many more examples from that side, and it seems to be disproportionately popular with people who support that party.

I don't see this happening with non-Republican supporters.

I also have an issue with "you make them a slave to your narrative". The enslaving effect of abortion bans is easily understood; but in which way was Texas "enslaved" by anything Biden's administration did to do that?

It really seems like you're drawing a false equivalence here, because as far as I can see, it's less eye-for-an-eye and more one of the parties going wild with poking eyes out, and getting hurt and offended by the "narrative" of anyone wearing glasses.

[1]https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/poll-finding/kff-co...


I think the fact that vaccination is only 3:5 demonstrates that it is remarkably close between parties and people should be more thoughtful about characterization. It is not like it is 100:1 or some extremely skewed distribution.

How about the death rate from covid being 3:1 in red vs. blue counties?[1]

Is 3:1 big enough to say that there, perhaps, is a problem?

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/27/briefing/covid-red-states...


I'm still not sure why exactly the claimed problem is party affiliation?

Is there a casual link with being republican and dying of covid democrats are immune to?

Should the CDC list party affiliation as a comorbidity and recommend Republicans reregister as democrats for the health benefits.

Of course not, because we know that there is a more direct causal link with not being vaccinated. We know that people in both party are not vaccinated, but more of the unvaccinated are Republicans (50‰ vs d 30% per your link)

Why attribute deaths and vaccination to party affiliation, when we know it crosses party lines?

If we want to really understand the "problem", we should look at traits that are associated with more than 50‰ of the unvaccinated.


> no disrespect but i know plenty of liberals who will not get the vaccine.

Respectfully, those people have been anti-vax for a while now (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/what-do-le...) and were part of the group that were unpersuadable.

But leftist anti-vaxers aren't a majority of current COVID-19 anti-vaxers. Those are politically motivated groups.


I’m not sure why you’re being down-voted; elements of the counter-cultural left has been skeptical of science for decades.

The profit-motive is at odds with the nobler pursuit of science and companies like Monsanto, Exxon, Dow Jones are on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, distrust of “big pharma” mutates into a suspicion of science in general – and the medical sector in particular. There also isn’t a catchy phrase to describe “big holistic/wellness/organic”.

When people (regardless of political persuasion) give up trying to understand the complexities of reality and instead, look for easy answers that appeal to them on an emotional level, they leave themselves vulnerable to all sorts of wacky ideas (many of which can be traced back to good old-fashioned anti-Semitism like George Soros and a shadowy cabal controlling the world).

George Monbiot recently published an article about this issue from a European perspective: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/22/leftwi...

Article from last year from an Australian perspective: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/05/wellne...


I'm curious: what percentage of the population tries to understand the complexities of reality, by your standard?

5% perhaps. Everyone else is busy working.

That sounds about right, maybe a bit optimistic.

> no disrespect but i know plenty of liberals who will not get the vaccine.

Anecdotally, the liberals I know seem much more open to the science behind the COVID vaccine and I don't know any of them who didn't get the shot.

> the reason why blockchain (primary crypto) technology took last year was because of the censorship issues.

Not sure I understand your point here. I think crypto is being adopted for other reasons considering that the most popular cryptos are pseudo-anonymous anyway. Is it because you think crypto can't be shut down? That is a larger discussion and I would say Bitcoin and Ethereum are less likely to be shut down, at least by the US (since in general it seems like they aren't considered to be securities), but I don't think we can expect that of the entire crypto ecosystem.

In general though, I'm not sure what your main point is. Are you saying that both sides of US politicians are at fault here? If so, I don't disagree.

However, I also think the post you were responding to was pointing out that conservative politicians carry some of the blame here and have been pushing these agendas for their own power play, which I'd also agree with.


> Anecdotally, the liberals I know seem much more open to the science behind the COVID vaccine and I don't know any of them who didn't get the shot.

Anecdotally, most people only know others who view things very closely to themselves.


That is why I used the word anecdotally. I was responding to a sentence that was also anecdotal.

I was mainly referring to this:

> Anecdotally, the liberals I know seem much more open to the science behind the COVID vaccine and I don't know any of them who didn't get the shot.

IME, this is because liberals are highly fractured based on race and class. The democratic party is composed of several groups that rarely intermix and often have competing interests. For example, large numbers of white liberals have few black liberal friends. This is not a value judgement, it's a description of how the world is.]


Why would anybody get vaccinated if they have to continue wearing masks? How does that make any sense at all? It ain’t republicans pushing that kind of nonsense.

And what does “take this serious” actually mean? This is a values thing. A lot of people justifiably get upset that the government wants them to put their entire life on hold indefinitely for a virus they aren’t concerned with. Life isn’t meant to survive. It’s meant to be lived. Life is very short and so far a non trivial amount of it has been spent on this. There is way more to life than a myopic fixation on exactly one single illness.


For the same reason that some people might wear seat belts and continue following the rest of the rules of the road.

Go back a year and see who was saying the vaccine was not safe. Explicitly saying you don't trust the vaccine because your political opponent was president when it was created is political plain and simple.

When your political opponent is an unintelligent charlatan who can’t speak two words without spouting a lie, then perhaps some caution would be warranted where public health is concerned.

Last I checked Trump had nothing to do with the vaccine other than helping fund it (Operation Warpseed). If you think Trump could impact the safety then I assume you think the FDA is corrupt which means we shouldn't trust them when they say it is safe now?

Back when that was the debate, Trump was pushing FDA to "accelerate" approval i.e. do it before the studies analysis was done. Now we know how those studies went, but at that point nobody did yet (and they might have revealed e.g. a lack of efficiency), so yes, if FDA did issue an approval back then then they should have been treated as corrupt for breaching their own process in a way that can impact the safety; and that is why the concern was (IMHO reasonably) raised by various Democrat leaders. Heck, Trump was on record asking officials to alter election results, of course he could also try to overrule FDA if he chose to and wasn't loudly opposed.

>Back when that was the debate, Trump was pushing FDA to "accelerate" approval i.e. do it before the studies analysis was done

There are accelerated approvals as part of the FDA process if there is a need. That is how Pfizer is approved now. Pfizer did not complete all the tests and analysis they typically would have had to go through.

>Now we know how those studies went, but at that point nobody did yet (and they might have revealed e.g. a lack of efficiency

Except like I said above we actually don't know since they have not completed all the studies yet.

>so yes, if FDA did issue an approval back then then they should have been treated as corrupt for breaching their own process in a way that can impact the safety

Interesting.

>that is why the concern was (IMHO reasonably) raised by various Democrat leaders.

I didn't see any Democratic leaders complaining when Pfizer was approved with the expedited process. So faster than normal is fine sometimes.

>Heck, Trump was on record asking officials to alter election results,

Trump says stupid stuff that has nothing to do with this. Biden says stupid stuff. Who cares?

>of course he could also try to overrule FDA if he chose to and wasn't loudly opposed.

He didn't though. Biden could do the same with a sugar pill if some company decided it was a cure for covid. Who cares what somebody could do if they don't actually do it.


You are assuming "they" trust the Republican leadership. this Gallup poll says only 12% of Americans trust congress. https://news.gallup.com/poll/352316/americans-confidence-maj... Lots of other interesting tidbits about trust in there...

> You are assuming "they" trust the Republican leadership. this Gallup poll says only 12% of Americans trust congress.

Congress ≠ the Republican leadership ≠ at least one member of the Republican leadership, or GOP members aligned therewith, enough to overcome dis- or non-trust of the rest.

“Congress” as an institution usually polls really badly when compared to individual politicians in their own districts, because Congress consists of 535 members, 532 of which the person answering the poll had no say in electing and represent people with different interests living elsewhere, and (usually) approximately half of which represent the least preferred of the two major parties, who usually have the power to at least block legislation (thanks to either split between the partisan majority of the House and Senate or, failing that, the Senate filibuster.)

Trust of either party leadership, and particularly voter’s own members of Congress, tends to be much higher than that of Congress as a whole.


These people who don't trust masks trust ivermectin. Just... talk with them. Its obvious. There's one political party pushing ivermectin as a solution, and the other one doesn't.

They want "their side" to be correct on this issue. They don't trust masks because masks were chosen by "the other side". They don't trust vaccines (despite being pushed by Operation Warp Speed by Mr. Trump) because someone else became president and started pushing vaccines.

It was historically liberals who hated vaccines, not conservatives. Conservatives were the ones making lynch mobs to forcibly vaccinate people (still an ugly history there but... seriously. The entire political world has flipped upside down).

--------

This isn't about the message. Its 100% about who trusts who, and who trusts what. This is a problem of ethos, not of facts or logos.


> These people who don't trust masks trust ivermectin. Just... talk with them.

I've talked with them. Some of them believe as you say. Others don't. I think you're doing a lot of pigeonholing; the reality outside defies the neat discrete classification favored in internet conversations.


Ivermectin is a perfect story for our divided times. Republicans believe Ivermectin is very effective by a 22R-6D margin and very + possibly effective by a 56R-19D margin. Conversely, Democrats believe Ivermectin is dangerous by a 64D-18R margin. May I kindly suggest we lay off partisan news?

https://today.yougov.com/topics/politics/articles-reports/20...


My post had nothing to do with any party affiliation. I was simply pointing out the data regarding where trust in our institutions is. Please ratchet the "they"/"other" stuff back a bit. I don't think it is helping us trust each other.

And my post is about the reality of our politics today.

People distrust masks but trust ivermectin. Why? Because certain leaders in certain political thoughts are pushing anti-mask and pro-ivermectin messages.

Its that simple. There's no need to mince words. People trust their leaders. If it helps, its the same reason why some liberals are all "Screw the rich", because they trust Bernie Sanders.

No one likes __Congress__ as an institution, but everyone likes their particular Senator/House rep. If not, those people would be immediately voted out. Its all the _OTHER_ reps that people don't like in Congress. Just as the institution was designed. That's how its supposed to work: you don't like the reps who push for stuff in their state/interests (but not your state and/or interests)... but you like the guy who represents your state/interests.

Perhaps I'm being too brutalistic or simple. But its really how I see things.


> People distrust masks but trust ivermectin.

source? It may also be useful to disambiguate anti-vaxers from anti-vax-mandate-ers. I think they have fundamentally different arguments.

>but everyone likes their particular Senator/House rep.

everyone?

> That's how its supposed to work:

I doubt that the founders intended to build a system only 12% of people supported but maybe...


> I doubt that the founders intended to build a system only 12% of people supported but maybe...

The founders absolutely intended for Congress to be the "we like our guy but dislike every other guy" situation. 100%. In fact, that's 100% evident in the design of the electoral college.

We were _supposed_ to hate other guys so much that Congress would end up choosing the President each time through debate. What was _NOT_ intended was for political parties to creep up and unify the voices of people across state lines (ie: giving actual power to the Electoral College. Woops).

The founders got a lot of things wrong about how people would act. But they got the part right about Congress. What we see today is exactly what the founders intended. (This doesn't mean that the founders are necessarily correct about this issue, but anyone who has studied the Federalist papers / other early writings knows this to be how Congress was designed).

Yeah, people glorify the founders and all that. But they were just people, and they made mistakes. (Have you met anyone yet who believes that the founders were divinely inspired by God? Because I have. There's lots of opinions about how this country was founded) Regardless, its important to understand their intents and the design of this country as part of our debates.

Congress, for better or for worse, is acting just as intended. The reason why Congress can't do anything right now is because we have deep disagreements across this country about what we should do.

------------

> everyone?

Every House/Senator has over 50% of support within their district, by definition. Every. Period. If not, their opponent gets elected next time.

There's some legitimate questions about redistricting and such (Gerrymandering wasn't foreseen by the founders). But Senators are immune to Gerrymandering by nature of how they work. But the reason why we have so many Senators for some areas is because of compromises before the Civil War about slave states vs non-slave states (whenever a "slave state" was founded, a non-slave state would split into two states to satisfy the status quo). There's all sorts of messes that we've inherited from short-sighted decisions 200 years ago (after the founders, but before the civil war).

In any case: the specific complain that I asserted earlier: that we like "our guy" but dislike others, is exactly how the system was designed to work. Only when large groups of people agree on a matter should a new law be written.

> source? It may also be useful to disambiguate anti-vaxers from anti-vax-mandate-ers. I think they have fundamentally different arguments.

I dunno? My parents? My sister's father in law? My coworkers? The lady on the Airplane I talked to? Just talk to people. Its pretty common. Look for watchers of Fox News or One American News networks, and the like. Surely you have someone in your social circle?

IVM is a miracle drug being used by people overseas that CDC isn't allowing. Don't-cha-know? Its the same line being used everywhere, because these people are watching / listening the same arguments from leaders they trust.

I think the smarter leaders are trying to morph the discussion towards drugs that do work (ie: Monoclonal Antibodies), and I'm willing to have a debate on that issue. (Monoclonal antibodies do work, but cost $2000+ per dose. Compared to a $20 vaccine or a $1 mask, its a steep price to pay).

IVM is so stupid I'm not going to debate it seriously.


No, the Gallup poll says 12% Americans say they trust Congress. People say they do not trust politicians, but the fact is that when politicians speak people listen. Politicians know this and that is why they always give soundbite-oriented remarks and lines of questioning in their various hearings and "debates."

>People say they do not trust politicians, but the fact is that when politicians speak people listen. Politicians know this and that is why they always give soundbite-oriented remarks and lines of questioning in their various hearings and "debates."

If people are only listening to sound bites, they aren't really listening. I think most people are staring to realize that politicians are self serving. The reality distortion field is finally starting to wear off.

When shit hits the fan, like COVID, people listen though, they listen very carefully. The current crop of politicians have forgotten how to be leaders though and go through their same ole sound-byte-and-finger-point-for-reelection trope they've grown accustomed to getting them reelected. I think it will cause a few waves in the next few elections, especially as COVID draws out over the next few years.


This is exactly what I'm tracking for the 2022 election - is the public able to separate anti-mask/vaxx choice from anti-vaxxing within their minds? Or will the right be tied to anti-vaxxing by proxy?

I'm leaning toward the latter. Most people I talk to think the right is actively pushing anti-vaxxing efforts despite top federal Congressional leadership explicitly encouraging vaccine procurement (and their former POTUS "inventing" the vaccine!).


The right's story has generally been that people should get the vaccine if they want to because "freedom." Trump literally said this in front of crowds of his vaccine-hesitant supporters. Prominent Republicans like Rand Paul are going around casting doubt on the credibility of Dr. Fauci and the CDC/NIH, and Republicans have done nothing to address the tidal wave of conspiracy theories making rounds among their constituents.

Get back to me when Trump gets on stage at some rally and says, "Anyone who thinks the vaccine makes them magnetic is a moron." Republicans are free to call it a Trump vaccine if they are saying, "Real Patriots do what their country needs, and getting the Trump Vaccine is what we need Real Patriots to do." If that is what it would take to convince people to get the shot I have no objection. Unfortunately I am not seeing that happen; instead what I see are non-committal statements, shouts of "freedom!" and Republican governors preventing local leaders from imposing mask or vaccine mandates in their states.


Trump's own recommendations to his supporters to get vaccinated were not well-received:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/aug/22/donald-trump...

...which makes the politics behind it all the more unusual.


I don't think it is possible to make the distinction. It is too late unfortunately. I'm vaccinated and I'm ok with people making (what i view as) bad decisions. The fundamental issue here is a question about the role of government: let people hurt themselves or have a nanny state. I don't think anyone would listen though and I'll get lumped in with the antivaxxers regardless of the nuances of my opinion.

Unpopular opinion: I'd not let either side off the hook. Politics caused multiple screw ups in the pandemic response. Still is.

Partisan politics aren't a good idea when forming public health policies. Nor is fear. Especially the fear being used for political gain.

The most enlightening aspect of the whole COVID debacle was just how bad politicians are with science. Democrats criticised vaccines just for political reasons. Republicans did also.

As for censorship, that never leads anywhere good. If the public discourse cannot openly mock bad content because it has already been "disappeared" then we are not better off.

I'm just hoping this pandemic doesn't cause a meltdown into outright authoritarianism. We've already seen what nazism and communism did and I'd rather not have society try either of them again.


I don’t even know how to respond to this. The nicest thing I can say is that your comment is both entirely ahistorical and highly indicative of why Republicans don’t trust the CDC.

Yeah, it’s pretty silly to look at how pretty much every opinion regarding COVID-19 follows party lines so closely and conclude that negative opinions about vaccines are caused by public health experts failing to maintain public trust. This defense reminds me of a similar one we’ve seen recently: “this group is only bigoted because they’ve been called bigots by the media for so long.”

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Is it really partisan to point out that Republicans took anti-vaxxing to be practically their identifying feature?

Most anti-vaxxers I know are far left, and most republicans I know have all the other historic vaccines for school and travel, but are more suspicious of the Covid ones due in part to the lack of discussion about natural immunity in the US context (most of them who already had covid don’t want to get the vaccine since they do t think it is worth their time).

Is the problem the lack of discussion or the spread of fake news, disinformation and fear mongering in the US?

Most/all western countries have higher vax rate than the US (and survey says that vaccine usage is lower among republicans in the US), why is that?

You really think it’s due to lack of discussion on natural immunity?


Nobody wants to have a discussion about [enter argument of the month here] because it's all BS partisan politics motivated by the right's outright disdain for all things liberal in America.

The problem isn't a lack of understanding or research for new vaccines, the problem is anti-intellectualism running rampant.


“Nobody wants to have a discussion about [enter argument of the month here] because it's all BS partisan politics motivated by the right's outright disdain for all things liberal in America.”

That is one view, and I have heard the opposite (switch the words right with liberal in this statement).

Unfortunately the truth is lost in the medium of dialog, e.g. see the recent surveys showing how those that watch the media most are also the most misinformed about the risk of covid hospitalizations (>50%??).


The previous administration made this political, and the pandora's box already have been opened. People were swearing they won't take vaccine, before it was even available.

Look at countries where pandemic is not political.


>(25 Feb 2020) U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a walking tour of San Francisco's Chinatown Monday to let the public know the neighborhood is safe and open for business.

>Pelosi, a Democrat who represents the heavily Chinese American city, visited the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, whose owner Kevin Chan, says his business and others are down 70% since the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

>"You should come to Chinatown," Pelosi said before stopping to lunch at Dim Sum Corner.

>"Precautions have been taken by our city, we know that there's concern about tourism, traveling all throughout the world, but we think it's very safe to be in Chinatown and hope that others will come," she said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAEfSHeH4Lc

Not just the previous administration.

This is what is tiring about threads like this, you have partisans on both sides all going "Not me and my side, it was all the other guys."


At that point no businesses US were closed because of covid, but Chinese businesses were unproportionally hurt because president called covid a "china virus".

You're trying to smear somebody that they are making it political while they are actually trying to unpoliticize it.

This was before emrgency was declared. And only 8 people were confirmed in California. Check the timeline: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_COVID-19_pande...


Again, "Not me and my side, it was all the other guys."

The Washington Post reported that six other countries had restricted travel from China before January 30, six did so on January 31, and by the time U.S. travel restrictions became effective on February 2, 38 other countries had taken action before or at the same time as the U.S. restrictions.

In what universe does telling people to get out and gather in groups make sense when there is a pandemic looming.

Looking at the timeline: "The first case of community transmission, because it had no known origin, is confirmed in Solano County, California, on February 26."

So the day after the call to gather, you have confirmed community spread.


IIRC Italy had a similar issue, where authorities initially tried to encourage gatherings to downplay Covid and made public events themselves for PR, there was a "Milan doesn't stop" campaign, etc - while (in hindsight) those were the key weeks where very rapid spread was happening, causing thousands of deaths afterwards

> Looking at the timeline: "The first case of community transmission, because it had no known origin, is confirmed in Solano County, California, on February 26."

Wasn't there a community-spread case in Seattle a little earlier than that?


Agreed, it's especially ridiculous that they said Trump should have been advocating for the vaccine when he did and still does.

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She did say that, just after saying that she would be the first in line if public health professionals recommended it.

This clip reminds me of Colbert because different people map their mental model onto her communication to parse one thing or the opposite thing.

It was still an extremely reckless thing for her to say to score some political points though.

It doesn't to me. What she said it is:

- I won't take it if trump alone tells me to take it

- I will be first to take it if experts give their thumbs up

Some people take the whole thing at face value, some take only the first part and ignore the rest.

In 70s Ford used political pressure to speed up swine flu vaccine development and that had negative consequences.


> It doesn't to me. What she said it is:

That is mostly a nonsense statement, public health professionals and the state recommend the same things. Not all health professionals but it isn't like a vaccine would get rolled out without any health professionals recommending it.

> In 70s Ford used political pressure to speed up swine flu vaccine development and that had negative consequences.

And did public health professionals recommend against taking it then? Or was it just Ford who recommended it against every the wish of every health expert?

I don't see how her statement can be taken as anything but "Republicans are also pro vaccine now, so we need to sow divisiveness in another way!". If she truly cared about peoples health she would have taken the opportunity to unite the people and the politicians over the vaccination issue here.


> That is mostly a nonsense statement, public health professionals and the state recommend the same things. Not all health professionals but it isn't like a vaccine would get rolled out without any health professionals recommending it.

She particularly mentioned Fauci, until 2020 he was respected and known to not being political and served all presidents since Reagan.

> I don't see how her statement can be taken as anything but "Republicans are also pro vaccine now, so we need to sow divisiveness in another way!". If she truly cared about peoples health she would have taken the opportunity to unite the people and the politicians over the vaccination issue here.

I don't at that point we didn't even know if WH wasn't planning to purchase vaccines from Russia (they had them available before Pfizer, I think July 2020).

Once vaccines were available to people, they were approved in other western countries as well, which boosted confidence in them.


You don't think that public health professionals would recommend a vaccine provided by the Trump administration? Think a bit, why did she even bring that up at all? Why not be happy that Trump talked about getting people vaccinated and tell people that vaccination is now supported by both parties and therefore everyone should go and get vaccinated as soon as possible? You don't think that taking that approach would have changed anything?

But instead she pushed the divisiveness to its max here for no reason at all.


What she said, she will trust doctors or scientists over trump.

I have antivaxxers in my family, and it is the reverse, they trust trump over scientists and doctors. And when given argument, that trump himself said to take vaccine and that he took it himself, their response is that it was a placebo and this was step just to appeal to moderates, heh...


Yes, there's a difference between a raging narcissist who can't even seem to tell the truth even if there's nothing to gain from lying and listening to a doctor.

But yeah, keep going with the whole "democrats are just as bad as republicans" thing. Seems to be working.


Really setting the bar high. Group A Being every so slightly better than really shitty Group B thing does not make Group A look very good, just ever so slightly less shitty.

"I beat my kids and my spouse" "You're evil, I only beat my kids"

Not a great argument.


It seems like there's a lot of propaganda premised on the idea that "both sides are bad", it's just "two sides of the same coin," and it's always the people who know nothing about politics and just want to appear superior without putting any effort or though that give this insidious ideology it's breath of air.

What do you mean propaganda? Trump was a fool and a shit president, and Bidens ratings are rapidly trying to reach Trumps. They both suck. Congress is a fucking joke.

I'll gladly accept your insult about not knowing anything about politics, wrong as it is. I choose not to insult you back.


You may not approve of Biden's job so far, but Trump's presidency was on an entirely different level of bad. Trump's failure to fully divest himself of his business interests left doubts about the intention of every decision he made. Trump's administration was filled with criminals. Trump managed to drag white nationalism from the fringes of society into the Republican mainstream and even had white nationalists and their sympathizers working in his administration. A good argument can be made that Trump led and continues to lead a fascist political movement -- Trumpism exhibits all of the characteristics than define fascism and the argument is mainly one of degree.

There are plenty of things to criticize Biden over, and I am sure that people with conservative points of view are not big fans of his various policies. However, we can at least go to sleep confident that we will not wake up to news that the President had tweeted some radical shift in US policy that blindsided his entire staff and administration. I would love to hear people criticize Biden for policy decisions -- the fact that Biden has a well-defined policy agenda to criticize is itself a huge improvement.


> You may not approve of Biden's job so far

I don't. I was hopeful back in January, but as of now no I don't.

I don't disagree with anything you said about Trump. he was/is a jackass and a shitty person, and is in the argument for worst president in US history, if there is even an argument to make.

I don't want to debate why Biden is better than Trump from a wholistic perspective, because I agree that he is. I do not agree that he is doing a good job.


What’s more interesting is that most of these people will survive this episode (given the known mortality data) and thus will “win” the debate (from their point of view) and will never ever trust the government (or health authorities) again. That’s the biggest downside in reality, and regaining the trust is going to be extremely complicated.

I'm not trying to be flippant when I say that it's good that they will not trust government again, as long as that leads to greater public vigilance against government's creeping excesses and self-serving propaganda. If it prevents the next Iraq war and the next Japanese internment, I'm all for it.

> If it prevents the next Iraq war and the next Japanese internment, I'm all for it.

How would it do that? Government didn't asked people about either of those. And if anything the people responsible for Iraq war will benefit from antivaxers votes.


Seriously. The vendiagram of people who would be for interment of a minority they distrust or a war for retribution, and the people currently rallying against mask/vaccine's would almost be a perfect circle.

> people who would be for interment of a minority they distrust

If the government announced tomorrow that they would be putting all unvaccinated people in internment camps for everyone's safety, how many people do you think would be in favor? I've certainly seen plenty of comments on the internet that would suggest it's not zero.


> If the government announced tomorrow that they would be putting all unvaccinated people in internment camps for everyone's safety, how many people do you think would be in favor?

If messaged properly (eg: getting “the experts” to hint at it, getting NYT to push for it, etc) I bet a shockingly high amount of people in blue regions would cheer it on.

I’m convinced that all that kept this from escalating to violence is the fact that the media and “the experts” haven’t given permission. If they said to “take matters in into your own hands when around somebody who isn’t masked” I bet there would be lot of violence…


I think Tucker Carlson saying that if you see a child with a mask, the parents should be arrested for child abuse, and that you should go up and rip the mask off is along the lines of the media giving permission for violence over masks... but to a different side than you're thinking.

There's already been violence over vaccination and masks. Mostly from the usual side (alt-right): [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

It's one thing to try to be objective and look at both sides. It's another to purposefully present a political issue as independent from political views. Anti-vax and anti-mask attitudes, conspiracy theories and tendency to violence are positively correlated with right-wing political views. That's just how it is.

> I’m convinced that all that kept this from escalating to violence is the fact that the media and “the experts” haven’t given permission.

Well, duh, if mainstream goes crazy then everything goes crazy. We know that since at least WW2.

The problem with alt-right is exactly that - their media and their experts give permission for violence, because anything that doesn't go their way is "treason" and "conspiracy". Compare what happened after Trump won with what happened after Biden did. One side did an investigation and protested. The other occupied the Congress.

[1] https://www.9news.com.au/national/sydney-cafe-targeted-by-an...

[2] https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/italian-police-arrest-f...

[3] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-08-02/poland-on...

[4] https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-health-watch/violence-erup...

[5] https://www.mercurynews.com/2021/08/13/northern-california-t...


> Anti-vax and anti-mask attitudes, conspiracy theories and tendency to violence are positively correlated with right-wing political views. That's just how it is.

Sounds like a decent reason to maybe keep these people separate from the rest of the population, just for a little while until everything is back to normal. How would you feel about that? Would you cheer? Would you miss a paycheck to protest in the streets?


> Sounds like a decent reason to maybe keep these people separate from the rest of the population

Sounds like you're trying very hard to make an abstract point to contradict what happens in practice.

> Would you miss a paycheck to protest in the streets?

I did, several times. I happen to live in Poland and our government is awful for the last 8 years.


No, it's just the question I originally came into this thread with. Someone brought up "internment of a minority that they distrust" framing it as something that was specific to one side.

It occurred to me that people who are unvaccinated fit that classifier, and that I've seen plenty of dehumanization of these people in comments on the internet. I saw your comment as not quite to that level, but along the same lines (lumping unvaccinated people in with alt right violence).

So I thought you might be a good test case. If they rounded up the unvaccinated, would you stand up for them? Or would you do what most people do in most situations, and keep your head to the grindstone, focus on feeding your family and paying your mortgage?


I would like to think that is something that would be acceptable to a fringe minority. Mandates are one thing; forced detention is like multiple steps further in the wrong direction.

You are on hacker news. Left is good. Right is bad.

Facts and reality will not change this formula.

You are absolutely right. Just read the comments, not even "on the internet" but right here on HN. Some even seem in favour of a... "more extreme" solution yet than internment, and have not a shred of self-reflection when they talk a mad game about others being bad people.


I think that Venn diagram may have shifted a fair amount lately, partly because of increasing skepticism towards the government on the political right. When the government begins to portray you as the enemy, it makes you think twice about its depiction of others.

> I'm not trying to be flippant when I say that it's good that they will not trust government again, as long as that leads to greater public vigilance against government's creeping excesses and self-serving propaganda.

These same people are hyper-credulous of extremist wingnuts who manipulate them, just not centrist/progressive politicians and news media. They're only "skeptical" of the mainstream.

When it's climate-change on the table instead of COVID, they will behave the same, actively sabotaging necessary measures to protect the habitability of the Earth.

When your grandkids ask you why your generation doomed them, what will you tell them?


>If it prevents the next Iraq war and the next Japanese internment, I'm all for it.

The downside is that it may cause other negative outcomes that are equally bad. There is a balance, as distrust can go too far.


Where are all these people preventing internment happening right now?

But the upside is that hopefully the govt/health authorities will learn a lesson and be better in the future. Id say in these situations any fallout is always the govt's fault since it is there to serve the people- a case of the customer is always right.

> But the upside is that hopefully the govt/health authorities will learn a lesson and be better in the future.

But there's only so much they can do. Sowing distrust has proven to provide short-term self-benefit to many powerful interests (e.g. political factions, partisan media). Even if the health authorities have a perfect strategy, those interests will find an opening to subvert it (e.g. portraying initial confusion as lying).


In a multi party system sowing distrust in an opposing party doesn't help your party, it mostly helps parties adjacent to that party. So then the goal becomes to be as trustworthy as possible to the public rather than make the public hate the enemy. It really solves many of these issues.

> In a multi party system sowing distrust in an opposing party doesn't help your party, it mostly helps parties adjacent to that party. So then the goal becomes to be as trustworthy as possible to the public rather than make the public hate the enemy. It really solves many of these issues.

Does it through? I suppose what I had in mind wasn't so much narrowly-focused electioneering, but broader and somewhat sloppy gesticulations towards an ideological tendency. For instance, if there were two left-wing parties, a Rush Limbaugh could get both of them by encouraging his listeners to distrust the "left."


The voters of those left-wing parties identify as "left" so if a Rush Limbaugh encourages people to distrust the "left" then those voters simply distrust Rush Limbaugh instead of altering their vote. Otherwise, if he covers Left-1 party with shit, Left-2 gains voters; if he points out a scandal in Left-2, Left-1 gains voters; if he points out that both Left-1 and Left-2 have a horrible foreign policy, there's likely Left-3 that opposes Left-1 and Left-2 on that policy, but he won't convince them to vote for a Right party if there are reasonable Left options. Unlike the two-party scenario where you might disagree with your "main" party on a single key issue and thus feel forced to vote for "the other" party, in a multi-party environment you generally choose an alternative that's quite close in other aspects as well.

> The voters of those left-wing parties identify as "left" so if a Rush Limbaugh encourages people to distrust the "left" then those voters simply distrust Rush Limbaugh instead of altering their vote.

But what about the center?

> if he points out that both Left-1 and Left-2 have a horrible foreign policy, there's likely Left-3 that opposes Left-1 and Left-2 on that policy

That seems to assume there's a party for every combination of views, but is that realistic? How frequently is there a party that's say, hard right on social policy but very left on economic policy? I get the impression that it usually plays out that you get a few parties that are different "degrees" of left or right (say hard left, left, and center left).


I don't think it is that unrealistic (not every combination, but popular ones). The results from parts of Europe that have many political parties, eg. Germany, show voters being relatively fluid over just a few years [1]. The US, on the other hand, has been consistently split in roughly two for ages. The combination of right on social/left on economics may be somewhat strange in the US now (and perhaps the west in general?), but in China it's the norm.

[1] https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2016/03/15/...


Such pandemics don't start every other year. Last great one was 100 years ago. So i wouldn't worry at all for the "winners", there's plenty of time for generations to refresh.

Worry about government's inability to learn and improve based on past mistakes, also complacency. It's not hard to imagine 100 years from now, popular presidential guy spearheading the next great pandemic, calming the subjects down with the great medical advancements they had since today and how well prepared they are. Until nature, as it always does, disregards everything and does its own thing unchallenged.


The vaccine hesitancy will impact vaccines for HPV, measles, HEP B, etc. etc. for generations.

> vaccine hesitancy will impact vaccines for HPV, measles, HEP B, etc. etc. for generations

This will be geographically--and, over time, economically--isolated.

Nearly 80% of American adults and over ¾ of eligible Americans have taken at least one dose of a Covid vaccine [1]. In the 65+ population, the figure is 95%. This simply isn't a big group of people, noisy as they may be. (Caveat: the group of people who are philosophically against vaccine mandates, but will get vaccinated anyway, is larger.)

[1] https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations_vacc-...


Agreed, I think the effect is that there will be pockets where herd immunity is not reached that will be a source of outbreaks for years to come.

> will be a source of outbreaks for years to come

We have experience containing outbreaks in small, isolated groups of high-risk populations. Even in densely populated places, e.g. measles in Williamsburg. The advantage is you know ex ante where the risk is, versus having the possibility of it popping up at random anywhere in the country.


Most people against the COVID EUA vaccines are not anti-vaxx, at all.

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I personally think we should stop labeling a whole diverse group under the most stupid categorization we can think of. Media is also guilty of this, for example when some outlet posted something like “anti-vaxxers are now drinking betadine” despite being an isolated act of stupidity. This type of confrontation will only yield more division and therefore enhance distrust.

I wonder, do we expect the rate of pandemics to increase or decrease over time?

On the one hand, you might assume the rate of pandemics is proportional to the size of the human population; more people, more hosts for mutating viruses, greater odds of one mutating to a pandemic-causing disease. There have been roughly 400 billion person-years lived since the last pandemic, but given the larger populations, we'd expect to accumulate another 400 billion person-years by around 2070.

On the other hand, you might assume the rate of pandemics is proportional to the size of the animal populations humans interact with. More animals to breed the viruses, more interactions to pass along the next candidate pandemic. In this case, we might expect more than a century for the next pandemic, since the next century isn't expected to be nearly as kind to animal populations.

(Obviously the situation is more complicated than an either-or, and has many contributing factors, and is stochastic in any case.)


Whether you believe SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab or not, the fact is the technology for engineering pandemic-causing viruses exists and hostile regimes have given no assurances that they won't continue to develop that technology, so we're well beyond any limits imposed by mutation and natural selection.

Tinkering with virus genetics is arguably high school level, garage lab science at this point, advantaged by mass production of almost everything you need, rna editing and crispr methodologies are well beyond published and into the "follow this tutorial to make a glowing frog/beer/bunny"and "here's how to add arbitrary sequences to rna."

It's almost certain that bad actors will make use of the available tech. We'll likely see many synthetic plagues before regulation and international controls catch up.


...are you not counting HIV as a recent major pandemic? SARS? MERS?

It is also worth remembering that for decades we have been carefully monitoring the spread of infectious diseases to prevent major pandemics from forming. There was no political controversy surrounding those efforts prior to COVID19, not in the US or anywhere else.


SARS and MERS never reached pandemic status. Swine flu in 2009 did though, and Avian flu seemed like it was going to in 2012 but also fell short.

Major - yes. "Great" - far from it. COVID is basically unstoppable despite the draconian measures lots of countries took. Post SMS if you're going out, yet your hospitals remain overloaded - HIV, SARS, MERS don't even come close to that.

None of those have had the global impact of COVID-19, so it think it's pretty easy to not count them as on the same level.

Compared to COVID-19, HIV/AIDS has killed far more people worldwide and has an untreated fatality rate orders of magnitude higher. But it spreads and progresses more slowly so it seems less dramatic.

HIV was discovered in the 80s of a past century. COVID rocked the world since month 1 of its inception and to this day keeps on rocking, despite the radical measures to contain it and the unseen global vaccination campaign.

>That’s the biggest downside

Downside for whom?


Society? People who want their fellow citizens to work toward greater goods collectively?

I guess we don't believe in disruption of suboptimal establishment forces anymore on HN.

I think you are missing the point.

Yes, lying governments don't deserve to be trusted. It is still unfortunate that the damage done may be so severe that for some people it will be irreparable. This isn't an absolution of the establishment, or a condemnation of those who lost trust.

Increased barriers to developing better establishments in the future are still regrettable.


You can't really win the debate anyway: if everybody had followed strict isolation from the get go there wouldn't have been a pandemic and people would have said the restrictions were completely uncalled for.

This is one of the greatest falsehoods out there. A stricter lockdown wouldn't have changed much. Australia and New Zealand couldn't keep cases from popping up despite incredibly strict border control and lockdown procedures. There are also animal hosts that can incubate this virus, sure you can cull a mink farm, but you can't really do that to a wild deer herd.

Australia and New Zealand actually did quite well until delta came along.

Speaking from Melbourne, Australia here, it certainly preserved life and (in the long run) the economy until vaccines came along (the rollout of which has been terribly bungled, but that's a different story.)


And the minute the restrictions were lifted the virus would be back again. Sorry. The idea that if we did lockdowns “right” this would be over is a lie. And to date I’ve yet to hear any “expert” tell the public that a strict lockdown wouldn’t work… all the more reason to not trust them.

It's over in China - has been for a while. I guess they did do lockdowns right.

>censoring of voices that were skeptical of the narratives

Much of what you describe as 'censoring' was focused on stopping the promotion of false cures eg Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, H2O2 nebulization etc. This type of speech is already highly regulated, as most people lack the capacity to 'do their own research' regarding a drug's safety or efficacy.


> Much of what you describe as 'censoring' was focused on stopping the promotion of false cures eg Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, H2O2 nebulization etc.

HCQ, while it has been bourne out that it doesn't work, was a perfect example of miscommunication and "protective censorship" breeding public mistrust: the initial papers that cast doubt on HCQ were based on fabricated data. Based on this initial bit of false data and (a strong helping of the stupidest kind of politics) the media jumped head-first into censorship and ridicule. The clinical trials for HCQ were halted (ugh). And then they were shown to be basing that on fabricated data. It was an utter disaster:

https://www.science.org/content/article/two-elite-medical-jo...

Subsequently, while I don't personally believe that Ivermectin works, we're still waiting for clinical trials to complete. Let's keep a tighter grip on our horses, please.


People were dying from self-administered HCQ as a supposed prophylactic because politicians seeking to downplay the severity of COVID were contradicting their health officials and insisting that it would work miracles and should be available outside hospitals long before that reprehensible fake "study" came out. And yes, they were ridiculed for it by certain sections of the media, and rightly so. That "study" certainly made things worse, but it was far from the only source of doubt on hydrochloroquine hype, and a study published in May can't be blamed for a pattern which started in March.

> People were dying from self-administered HCQ as a supposed prophylactic

Yes, "people are dying" is the favored rallying cry for any number of poorly considered, knee-jerk reactions to unfortunate events.

It's a big country. People die from lots of things every day, including a staggering number of people who die from overdoses from innocuous medications. A surprising number of these people poison themselves with supplements in the name of "healthy living" (leading to thousands of ED visits a year), but we don't seem to be eager to leap to censorship and ridicule for that problem:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/harmful-effects-of-suppl...

We don't change the parameters of science because of a few cherry-picked examples, and we shouldn't engage in censorship of factual information because "people are dying".


>A surprising number of these people poison themselves with supplements

Supplements are regulated in the US as foods, not drugs. If the makers of these supplements claim they treat, cure or diagnose any disease the claims can be censored.

>we shouldn't engage in censorship of factual information

Most of what was said about fake covid cures was not factual and/or exaggerated. The case could certainly be made that many of those promoting said solutions stood to benefit commercially and politically from spreading the false information (including many senior politicians).


> and we shouldn't engage in censorship of factual information because "people are dying".

It's not 'censorship of factual information' for a private service to choose to put health warnings against or delete fact free claims of HCQ as a miracle cure. Indeed "healthy living" supplement hucksters are ridiculed and kicked off platforms on a regular basis, even when some of the claims they make about "healthy living" have a tenuous connection to fact.

We don't change the parameters of science to pretend that people insisting that a pandemic isn't a threat because self-administering a moderately dangerous drug is effective prophlaxis are presenting "factual information" because the people doing so are supporters of politicians rather than pill vendors.

All of which is tangential to my original point which is that "HCQ is a miracle cure" became a meme entirely divorced from the tentative (and probably manipulated) evidence of therapeutic benefit well before attempts to shut it down or the Surgisphere "study", so I can't imagine why more blame is apportioned to them than the public figures making evidence-free claims about it from the very beginning.


> It's not 'censorship of factual information' for a private service to choose to put health warnings against or delete fact free claims of HCQ as a miracle cure.

I'm not going to get into the "it isn't censorship if it's a private company" debate. That's a facile argument. Silencing of speech is wrong. Full stop. I'm not debating semantics. If the only way you can rebut an argument is by silencing it, then you lose the debate. Get better at defending your beliefs in the marketplace of ideas.

Regarding "factual information": if 2020-21 should have taught you anything about actual science (vs. The Science (tm)), it is the importance of humility. Today's "scientific fact" is tomorrow's misinformation. We've seen this time and again throughout the pandemic -- except that one side is always less than forthright than the other about the times when their preferred facts are wrong.

AI bots and armies of low-wage employees at Facebook and Twitter are useless as arbiters of scientific truth. And science, as a process, depends on the ability of unpopular opinions to exist and be debated. Because sometimes, they're right.

Your desire to "protect people" against information that you deem to be dangerous is only as good as your ability to know what is dangerous. And the masses are finding out about this Dangerous Misinformation anyway, so it's not like the tactics are working. The two major accomplishments of this strategy appear to be:

1) making the censors look like fools on a regular basis, and

2) hardening the opposition and mistrust by the people being censored to the point where you are engaged in all-out war.

So if your goal was destroying trust and confidence in medical authority, and increasing partisan polarization, while hardening ~half the population into rigid ideological positions, mazeltov. The experiment was a success.


> And science, as a process, depends on the ability of unpopular opinions to exist. Because sometimes, they're right.

Science, as a process, does not depend on the ability of unpopular (or in this case, very popular) opinions to be broadcast to a sufficiently large number of laypeople on a particular channel. HCQ research was carried out despite rather than because Bob from Texas or Luis from Brazil read some drivel about a miracle cure written by a fan of a politician who had touted it as a miracle cure. And yes, it would have been much better if the Surgisphere paper was silenced before rather than after publication.

But I reiterate, the argument that encouragement to buy Invermectin has an inalienable right to appear in my inbox which encouragement to buy Viagra apparently doesn't because this time it's politicians shilling it is completely orthogonal to my original point, which is that people were damaging their health self-administering HCQ long before Surgisphere published or social media started to get nervous. So if we want to understand why Americans are so keen on quack cures and so hostile to stuff that has more scientific evidence behind it, we probably want to start with some very influential people that promoted that attitude, and doubled down on it as being a test of partisan loyalties. Blaming the censors seems at best a distraction and at worst an attempt to to shield the promoters from their responsibility. After all, we had Facebook censorship and ridicule of pseuds (and frequent poorly-communicated changes in public health guidelines) in my country too, but that didn't stop nearly all adults from agreeing to be vaccinated.


> Science, as a process, does not depend on the ability of unpopular (or in this case, very popular) opinions to be broadcast to a sufficiently large number of laypeople on a particular channel.

It would be amusing how confident you are in your pronouncements of who deserves to have speech "for science", if it weren't so scary.

Speaking as a scientist, I want to hear all of it, and I don't need you to help out. The only thing in the realm of speech that can truly hurt me is the risk of misled by moral busybodies who think they know what is true and virtuous, and try to control what I hear "for my own good."


> The only thing in the realm of speech that can truly hurt me is the risk of misled by moral busybodies who think they know what is true and virtuous

A bit weird how you started off with a tirade about the real world consequences of publishing a fake paper (I think we actually agree that was bad) as well as an insistence that in engaging in ridicule and fact checking was "miscommunication" breeding public mistrust then. Stop pronouncing speech had harmful consequences, you moral busybody! And how dare the Lancet take that paper down!

I'm sorry you're scared about my confidence in the future of scientific research not depending on Invermectin partisans (or anyone else) being able to publish stuff on Facebook.com without content warnings. Personally, I'd see much more reason to be scared if I wasn't confident in my pronouncement that scientific research will go on regardless of how Facebook chooses to filter its newsfeed.


> If the only way you can rebut an argument is by silencing it, then you lose the debate.

This cannot be underscored enough. If you censor criticism of a viewpoint, people won't decide it's right. They will decide it's definitely wrong.


>Get better at defending your beliefs in the marketplace of ideas.

This is sort of the Joe Rogan argument: fight misinformation by talking louder and more convincingly. I am legitimately curious, in what way could the pro-vaccine community do a better job of defending their beliefs in the marketplace of ideas?

The data is clear that vaccines save lives, they have generally mild side effects and they reduce transmission of COVID. This data has been made freely available to the public in an unprecedented way. Politicians, celebrities, athletes and scientists have all spoken convincingly in favor of vaccinations. Despite these efforts, the country that first developed the vaccine now ranks 52nd globally in terms of number of eligible individuals vaccinated. What went wrong?


I see two reasons for this. First is a carryover of distrust from the mishandling of the pandemic up to this point. There has been flip-flopping in government messaging and policy constantly. This has sometimes been due to new data, and sometimes I'd argue for political gain.

The second reason is, well, the free discussion of the nuances of the vaccine has largely not been allowed/socially acceptable. The vaccine is being pushed in very forceful way while honest (if not always scientifically accurate) discussion is repressed. Although there will certainly be a group too far gone to ever accept the vaccine, this strategy of a heavy handed and propaganda-like approach seems to be causing the vaccine hesitant to only dig in their heels further. The vaccine can't win in the marketplace of ideas if the marketplace is not allowed to exist.


OP’s point was that the argument in favor of vaccines needs to be made more convincingly. What does that actually mean? How could the information be presented more convincingly?

My point is that the argument can't be made more convincing if the argument isn't allowed. Even if the information all points in one direction, and at this point it more or less does, I see it being presented in a way where any questioning or dissent is actively ridiculed or repressed. This naturally causes suspicion.

Instead of presenting the vaccine information as a flood of not to be questioned, yet well meaning, propaganda I'd prefer an open and honest dialogue that meets an individual where they're at.


You aren't really answering my question. Despite Youtube removing misinformation, anti-vaxxers have loudly and repeatedly 'made their point.' The marketplace of ideas is alive and well. It's hard to have an open and honest discussion with groups that falsify data, but many vaccine advocates have nonetheless engaged directly and publicly with anti-vaxxers.

What specifically is lacking in the pro-vaccine argument? I'm not asking about censorship, as it is seemingly a moot point. OPs point is that the argument needs to be made more convincingly and spoken louder. What does that look like in practice?


> "people are dying" is the favored rallying cry for any number of poorly considered, knee-jerk reactions to unfortunate events.

Brilliantly parodied in this music video: https://youtu.be/eXWhbUUE4ko


Next to think of the children! Until it comes time to help a child in need, or pay that once child a livable wage and ensuring housing is affordable for shelter.

I feel like you're discounting the fact that these "prescriptions" didn't just manifest from the aether. Someone started the idea of these particular medications being effective. And not having a clinical trial means neither side has been proven correct. So where are people getting the idea from in the first place? That source is as much mis- or even dis-information as the subsequent attempts at damage control by the authorities. But yet it's given a complete pass in your comment?

> Someone started the idea of these particular medications being effective.

The original claims of HCQ's effectiveness against Covid came from doctors in China, early in 2020. At least, these were the first reports I was aware of.


And of course the promotion of quack cures (including at the highest levels of government and some of the highest profile media personalities) came before some media outlets decided to censor some of them. Nobody honestly believes that everybody would have ignored the likes of the last POTUS or Joe Rogan if Facebook et al had amplified that message rather than deleting or fact checking it

>This type of speech is already highly regulated,

Commercial speech (e.g., advertising) about drugs is highly regulated, but speech of ordinary citizens (who don't have a financial interest in the drugs being discussed) isn't regulated by the government since it is protected by the First Amendment.


Highly regulated how? There was no censorship on people recommending alternative health treatments online until COVID-19 came.

Additionally ivermectin is not a cure, it instead has proven effectiveness in attenuating the duration and severity of symptoms. That the scientific studies demonstrating this are not allowed to be even discussed on major social media platforms is a red flag.


> Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine

Not only 'the vaccine' (meaning Covid-19) vaccine. Trust to CDC is lost, trust to FDA is lost, trust to Executive orders on health policies is lost.

Trust to major news networks, trust to health pundits -- is lost.

On top of that, of course, trust for non-health related 'institutions' (eg FBI, CIA, NSA, FISA courts) -- is lost.

Everything from here on coming from the above institutions -- will be viewed with skepticism and distrust.

Hell, probably trust in legitimacy of election process is lost too. Will see, I guess.

My point about the article -- is that fails to consider the whole system in a country like US...

No longer will western politicians be able to point out to authoritarian dictatorships -- from the point of moral authority.

The "Whatabout-ism" is now 'normalized', and will continue be normal discourse of international politics for a very long time.

Historians 200 years from now 2016-2022 will have to be calling this as a 'Period of Pundits & Institutions loosing people's trust' for many of English-speaking countries.


You’ve got a huge swath of america who doesn’t want the vaccine because they either have superior natural immunity already OR understand that the virus poses little-to-no-risk to them or their family. Covid is essentially equal to the flu in terms of mortality for people under ~55 and children are virtually immune from serious Covid illness.

>Covid is essentially equal to the flu in terms of mortality for people under ~55 and children are virtually immune from serious Covid illness.

Previously this would've been "COVID misinformation", but it isn't anymore as the NYT said it this morning. I'd quibble a bit about natural immunity being "superior" but honestly who knows anymore.

FTA:

>For children without a serious medical condition, the danger of severe Covid is so low as to be difficult to quantify.

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/12/briefing/covid-age-risk-i...


More children have died in car crashes in 2021 than have ever died of Covid

I think one of the best examples of the US government shooting itself in the foot during this pandemic was when it was released in the press that some in the CDC advocated to prioritize minorities for vaccination for social justice reasons.

A quick to market vaccine based on new technology, and some woke bureaucrat doesn’t seem to connect that that message would be heard as “they want to test it on us again”.


How can there be informed consent with censorship?

But I have a question: Why did all governments have exactly the same behavior? Was there a handbook saying “talk to your citizen like dumb children” that was somehow mandatory reading before purchasing the vaccine? Why the coordinated action?

Erratic behavior doesn’t explain it to me — it was far from random, all particles went the same way.


> Why the coordinated action?

In politics, if you do the same as other countries, you have a lot of support to justify said action without much effort. If you do it like Sweden you are bombarded with criticism. So the easy option is to copy from your neighbor.

Especially in times when the press tends to shield their favorite candidates from accountability. You don't even need to defend yourself, others do that for you.


You forgot to mention masks. Early in the pandemic, US health authorities were adamant that masks weren't needed. Only months later did they later admit that it was done due to the mask shortage for medical professionals.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/19/health/face-masks-us-guidance...

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/04/10/8298906...

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/who-changes-covid...

Is it a surprised that trust in Western public institutions are at a low?


I also have serious doubt about those who took the vaccine now. Would they have ratted on Anne Frank after a similar propaganda campaign that made them take the vaccine?

They wouldn't have ratted her out, they'd parade her dead body around celebrating.

I think you got this wrong. It was vague and inconsistent messaging from a leader who was skeptical of the science. Then made the pandemic into a personal attack on him. Now his followers will not take the vaccine.

Are we just going to ignore all of the anti-vax disinfo then? That seems like a far more significant factor than "the government didn't give the public the complicated version from the start."

It’s worth pointing out that:

(1) there is always a huge swath of people that will “never” take a new vaccine. It has only gotten bigger since social media allowed the unwashed masses to bypass the old gatekeepers.

(2) the top health officials in the USA have all been threatened (death threats against their person and their families). This very likely clouds the lessons they could learn from the past / years.

(3) “Hard truths” are complicated and require an audience willing to understand nuance. We have a fractured media environment that frequently doesn’t carry the entire quote and media consumers that frequently don’t click beyond the clickbait headline. We have people en masse trusting their health decisions to superstition who join in chants to fire/arrest/kill health officials.

While the mask guidance of Feb 2020 could have been better communicated (it seems clear to me the calculus involved more than what was publicly stated), it also seems naïve to me that simply telling the truth would have solved any of these issues.


And thats a good thing too. Don't reward poor behavior with compliance.

It's trivially easy to understand that getting a vaccine that benefits you, as well as the people around you, is good for the people around you, much more so than it is good for someone you're protesting against.

And not getting the vaccine is potentially bad for you, and those around you, much more so than it is bad for anyone you're protesting against.

The vaccine helps your body fight the virus, and reduce the spread of the virus in your local community. That should be the key point in deciding if you get a vaccine.


That's just the thing though, isn't it. Is the vaccine good for you and the people around you? Since we know asymptomatic carriers are a thing, does getting the vaccine protect those around you? Are you even able to get reliable reporting on the side effects (of various shots) and what groups are likely to be at risk for them?

Assuming a disagreement about reality is a disagreement about values is a great way to straw man without knowing it.


That's got real "I'm not taking the safe, free, incredibly effective vaccine to own the libs" energy.

I knew it was controversial when I posted it, and I know this comment will be too. That's not my energy at all, but I do think poor behaviors yield rightfully earned distrust and consequences.

I was 100% on board with at home testing every 3 days schemes, mask wearing (even though I doubt the efficacy of most masks), but having compulsory medical procedures with a relatively untested, proprietary technology is where I draw the line.


I'm omitting the "compulsory" part, however, the "medical procedures with a relatively untested, proprietary technology is where I draw the line." is simply ridiculous. I'm fairly certain (some exceptions do exist) that you have had many proprietary drugs and medical procedures which have been far less tested than Covid vaccines. I mean, pretty much all new medicine is proprietary; and the vaccines have now been injected in billions of people for a long time and we have observed the results.

I can accept the argument "this is where I draw the line" if and only if in pre-Covid you would have refused most of what doctors would prescribe you. If you want to draw a line between pre-Covid modern prescription drugs (all proprietary, many also with weird new tech, all tested on far less people than the vaccines) and the current vaccines, you're going to need a substantially different argument than "medical procedures with a relatively untested, proprietary technology". Heck, even simply saying "I don't believe that such procedures should be compulsory ever for any reason" would be a much more reasonable argument than that.


>I'm omitting the "compulsory" part, however

It's intellectually dishonest to chop up what he says, even though you admit it, to make it easier to argue against.


This is such a silly mentality. Deciding to not do something that should be done just because someone who is incompetent tells you to is the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

You aren't 'punishing' those in power by not taking the vaccine. You are punishing every other person in society.


Even though vaccinated are still transmitting and catching it? Seriously, who am I punishing.. if you want it then get it. According to your logic that is how to prevent COVID except when it isn't.

Exactly. All this banning of alleged misinformation backfired. To be honest, we can be glad of that even if there a now acute negative repercussions. Not because of misinformation, because of censorship attempts.

I don't think we can make a lot of assumptions about counterfactuals. There's a bunch of people primed to act out regardless of how well the messaging is handled.

I don't think a discussion here is valid without taking into account the meddling of foreign powers. Troll farms have had a massive impact here.

> Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine.

They were always not going to do it. The second it became a political issue, their minds were made up. Blaming what was or wasn't done by third parties, government, etc. is completely missing the point.


Yes, it's clearly the mainstream media and politicians fault that they had to hedge some of their bets because they're unsure about certain details and the public freaks out when they have to change their statements when facts change or become more concrete. Totally their fault.

And not the fault of the vast network of extremists spreading FUD. Totally not those people's fault.


> The flip side that wasn't discussed is the belittling and censoring of voices that were skeptical of the narratives, which engendered even more distrust

Oh yeah, a group of people pushing ideas that got thousands upon thousands of people killed and jammed up ICUs leading to necessary surgeries being postponed by vomiting out a sewage-pipe of bad-faith arguments and disinformation. It's clearly not okay that we were derisive to those statements.

I mean, look how well politely ignoring conspiracy theorists for a decade worked out. That totally had no unforeseen consequences, right?


> Their strategy of information control backfired, and they doubled down. Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine.

These people have free choice, and they are making a bad one. They aren't victims; they are the problem, infecting their neighbors and allowing a pandemic to spread.

Much more significantly, I'm not sure how we can omit the overwhelming messaging from a certain political segment of society, and is spread by leading news outlets, governors, members of Congress, the prior administration in the White House, and very many influencers in every domain. The messaging claimed the the pandemic wouldn't happen, that the virus is inconsequential ('like the flu'), the vaccines are dangerous, etc. That omission is a standard rhetorical technique of that political segment, which is to always attack - always keep your opponents on the defensive.

If your theory was true, we'd see vaccine denial across society. Instead, AFAIK, there's a very strong correlation between political beliefs and vaccine denial. These people clearly, IMHO, choose politics over health and they have what they choose - they have their political movement, at the cost of health - their own, and millions of others. Again, they aren't victims; they make their choices, and are responsible for the consequences.


> The flip side that wasn't discussed

This has been discussed ad nauseam. Nature isn't a foreign policy magazine, so it's not really the greatest place for advising how the US should respond to a disinformation campaign. But communicating about healthcare policy seems to be reasonably in its area of expertise.

> The flip side that wasn't discussed is the belittling and censoring of voices that were skeptical of the narratives, which engendered even more distrust

The disinformation campaign was allowed to got on essentially unchecked for a long time because it was politically sensitive to speak publicly about it. As we started to get more confirmation that it was being funded by foreign governments (e.g. [0]), pushback against the disinformation became stronger.

> Their strategy of information control backfired, and they doubled down. Now we've got a huge swath of US citizens that will never take the vaccine.

I am highly skeptical there is any evidence for the causality you are implying here.

A disinformation campaign like this is an attack on Americans by a foreign military. People may reasonably disagree about how it should be handled, but at some point citizens have a right to defend their country from attacks.

[0] https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-disinformation-campaign...


What is disinformation? Who gets to decide?

The people running the disinformation campaign usually decide.

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