I have had an off and on discussion with a couple of antivaxxers and they railed against the Pfizer vaccine because they said it hadn’t been approved. I sent them to a US Food and Drug Administration website demonstrating that it had been approved quite a while before. There was little comeback from them so they started railing against mRNA vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna) in general because these are only new and have spike proteins (!). I pointed out that some of the other vaccines are not mRNA vaccines but virus mediated types (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson)1 and one of them replied that they wouldn’t use something in which the genome had been mucked around with. The vaccines which contain no genetic material did not even enter into their argument1. Their ignorance is profound. The problem is that they are too ignorant to know how ignorant they are. Unfortunately, even if they did know how ignorant they were, they do not seem to be capable of doing anything about it. To find a website explaining the details of the various types of vaccines used in dealing with assorted diseases, took me about five minutes. If I was railing against vaccines and vaccine mandates and trying desperately to develop arguments against them, I’d at least find out about them. Knowing your topic tends to make you look less foolish.
After a while, this pair’s true target became obvious. They were not railing against vaccines alone, but ‘the Establishment’ and they seem to believe they have been betrayed by the modern world. They distrust scientists, doctors, and anybody else who disagrees with their point of view or who has a responsible job requiring expertise. Their point of view is fluid and nebulous. So, they assume that whatever they are against, it is part of the establishment conspiracy, and vice versa. As a consequence, they will mistrust anyone who points them to anything that they consider the ‘establishment view’, or has anything to do with facts.
It seems that people like these, disparate as they are, formed a large bloc of those who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and would still do so, given the opportunity. I suspect that one of the factors they have in common with those people is limited education. While it would be comforting to believe that educational profile was the only common denominator, there is much more at play here, and probably has much to do with people’s psychological makeup (not that I’d know). In the 2016 US presidential election, there was a distinct correlation between education and voting; 48 of the 50 most highly educated counties voted strongly for Hilary Clinton, while 47 of the 50 most poorly educated counties voted strongly for Trump2. It is a supreme irony that people like this in their millions voted for Donald Trump in the hope that he would fix their problems because they simplemindedly perceived him to be anti-establishment and believed the establishment was the cause of their problems (in part it was, but only in part). The fact that Trump was a pathological liar3, lacking any semblance of morality, a malignant narcissist4, and a product of the system that they believe buggered their lives, did not seem to register with them.
The two with whom I was having the discussion, were generally supportive of the Convoy to Canberra protesters despite the disparate nature of the latter and the targets of their protest5. A recent story in the satirical website The Shovel says much, wherein a Canberra Convoy protester demanded the government tell him what he is protesting about6. While it satirises these people, it is not too wide of the mark. It almost seems to be a case of ‘whatever it is, I’m against it’. If only they knew how ridiculous they appear.