A Pandemic of Fallacious Thinking and Civic Irresponsibility: Part Two – A Psychological Analysis
This is a blog that I wish wasn’t necessary. But given the continuing ravages of the pandemic and the refusal of far too many people to get vaccinated, this is even truer.
In a previous blog[i], I analyzed the validity of the “arguments” – as they are – which have been brandished in favor of not get vaccinated against Covid19. I have not only examined them in terms of their underlying “logic” as it is, but I have answered mainly in terms of flawed reasoning. As imperative as this is, unfortunately it does not get to the real root of the problem, the underlying mindsets upon which each of the arguments / claims are based. Whether deeper analysis is useful or not, it is vital if we are to understand the full nature of what we are dealing with.
To reiterate, here are the main arguments / claims for not getting vaccinated:
1. âDue to my age, health, lifestyle and special circumstances, I am completely immune to the virus. “
2. âMy body, my choice! The government does not have the right to tell me what I can and cannot do with my body. It is an attack on my Freedoms and Fundamental Freedoms! It is nothing less than tyranny. Besides, I and I alone know best when it comes to my own body.
3. âThe Bible tells us that we are created in the image of God. Wearing masks is nothing less than a desecration of His Image. It is a sin of the gravest order! “
4. “The vaccine is responsible for the appearance of the virus.”
5. âThe authorities have looked back so many times that they are not trustworthy. “
6. “The virus is not a big problem.”
7. “Wearing masks is foolish.”
8. âWe cannot allow science and scientists to rule our lives. Who gave Anthony Fauci the power to make decisions about us?
9. âIt’s time to stop worrying about others. “
10. âThe virus is a part of nature. Thus, in harmony with all things, it is morally and universally appropriate to let Nature take its course.
11. “Vaccines are an insidious plot to put microchips in us not only to track our whereabouts, but even worse, to read and thus control our minds.”
The first claim is that due to the special circumstances and / or basic characteristics of a person, they are completely free from the disease, therefore requiring no intervention or treatment. At the very least, it is a classic case of omnipotent thought, even of absolute grandeur. This is compensation for the fact that the Virus has instilled a deep sense of helplessness in many of us. Unfortunately, they are not only a direct threat to the health and well-being of oneself, but to others.
The second is not only a complete misunderstanding of freedom, but is a classic example of narcissistic thinking. Freedom does not mean that one has the absolute right to do whatever he wants without the full consideration of others. Without it, society is not possible.
More basic still, you are not always the best judge when it comes to your body. It is impossible for anyone to have all of the relevant knowledge that experts have acquired through years of arduous and specialized training. It is just an additional expression of Grandiosity, that is, an exaggerated sense of self.
The third claim also suffers from the same.
The claim that the vaccine is responsible for the virus is not only completely false, but a complete misunderstanding and a complete reversal of the correct order of things. The âright sequenceâ is that the virus is responsible for the vaccines and the protection they provide against disease, not the other way around. Thinking otherwise is nothing less than a primary example of a major thought disorder.
The fifth claim is the expression of an obsessive need for constancy. It is true that authorities such as the CDC and Dr Fauci have turned around. But they didn’t do it arbitrarily. Rather, they changed their recommendations as the underlying conditions themselves changed. Indeed, one of the main characteristics of science is that it self-corrects. Unfortunately, the change itself poses a major threat to many.
The virus is a big problem, period! It is one of the worst calamities to befall in modern times. It is responsible for more than 4.5 million deaths worldwide. Downsizing is the only way many can cope with a disaster that once again feels powerless to control. This is as pure a case of denial as one can ever find.
The same is true of the attitude that wearing masks is foolish.
Degrading Dr. Fauci is just another form of assertion of his importance and, therefore, an exaggerated sense of his own worth.
Lack of concern for others is again a case of primary narcissism. Are we not all in the same boat? Do we really want no one to care about someone other than themselves? Society itself cannot exist without caring about others.
The Virus is not the result of “Nature acting alone” because it no longer exists. This is the case with humans who do not take the proper precautions to prevent animals from too easily transmitting a fatal disease from one species to another. In today’s world, there are few things humans do that don’t affect all of nature. To believe otherwise is another case of denial.
The latter would be laughable if it weren’t for a primary example of paranoia.
To reiterate a key from the previous blog, the individual arguments / claims are bad enough on their own, but are made even worse by the fact that they come together in separate groups, thus reinforcing each other.
First of all, there is the Hoax Cluster, namely that the virus is not real and, therefore, does not deserve any attention, let alone serious. It is backed up by the false claim that the number of people affected is too low for us to care. It is reinforced by the Conspiracy / Paranoia cluster. Namely, the virus has been fomented by the government so that it not only can track our whereabouts and thoughts at all times, but control them and thus deprive us of our God-given freedoms and rights. The I Know Best cluster is more or less the same. Another is the invulnerability cluster, namely that “if in the highly unlikely event that the virus is real, I am immune to it.” The group of product flaws is the unsubstantiated claim that the vaccine, not the virus, is the real danger since it is responsible for causing the virus in the first place. In addition, the vaccine has not been sufficiently tested to guarantee its absolute safety.
Ultimately, all of the above and many more bear witness to the fact that much more than we would like to believe, we are under the direct influence of deep psychological forces that seriously hamper our abilities to think critically. This is not to throw out quick and easy labels on each of the so-called arguments, but to identify the pernicious forces that prevent us from treating the important issues we face with the seriousness they demand.
In short, as a society we suffer from deep psychological problems. Who other than our national leaders are available to deal with what afflicts us? But to do that, it takes someone with the stature to bring these issues to their attention.
Ian I. Mitroff is considered one of the main founders of the modern field of crisis management.
He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering and philosophy of social systems science from UC Berkeley.
He is Professor Emeritus of the Marshall School of Business and the Annenberg School of Communication at USC.
Currently, he is a Senior Research Affiliate at the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, UC Berkeley.
He is a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Management.
He has published 40 books and hundreds of scientific articles and editorials.