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Now This Is Where Medical Experts Are Probably Wrong
Having spent time arguing that one should accept the opinion of medical experts, I am now writing a post disputing medical experts.
The Jerusalem Post just published an article which states as follows:
The Pfizer coronavirus vaccine scored a point in the field of public opinion with an announcement by the American Food & Drug Administration on Monday that it is fully approved. Now, it is likely that many more people will sign up to get the jab, health experts say, in that they will have even more confidence in the safety of the vaccine.
I'm not a health expert, and I'm not qualified to dispute an expert opinion about health. But the health experts cited here are not giving an expert opinion about health. They are giving an opinion about how people in general react to information about science. And that's something which is the domain of psychology, not physical health.
Personally, I think that it is just not going to be true. Yes, a few more people will sign up to get vaccinated. But "many more"? I don't think that is likely at all, and I think that most psychologists and social scientists would probably agree.
The fact is that the vast majority of people rarely make rational decisions based on evidence. There have been countless studies which demonstrate this. Rather, most people primarily based their decisions on such things as emotion, bias, group affiliation and so on, and then use their intellect to rationalize these decisions by deciding which evidence they will consider acceptable.
To make things much worse, we live in an unfortunate time in which conspiratorial thinking, reception and distribution of misinformation, and distrust of expertise have spread far beyond the fringe circles of conspiracy theorists who believe that lizard people are controlling world events. The majority of Republicans believe that Republican officials conspired to falsify the results of the presidential election! And the internet enables mavericks, including some with credentials, to spread their views widely; it's not easy for the average person to figure out who the real experts even are.
When it comes to Covid and vaccines in particular, the amount of misinformation that people absorb boggles the mind. As noted yesterday, many people have spent over a year believing things that are not only false, but very demonstrably false and even nonsensical. An official approval of the vaccine from the FDA, even with all the consideration that this entailed, isn't going to sway them - not even people who claimed that the reason they didn't take it until now is that it didn't have full FDA approval. They will latch on to the fact that a very very small number of medical experts say that the FDA is wrong or is rushing things. And they will claim that they are able to evaluate this view as being more correct than that of the overwhelming majority of medical experts who say that people should take the vaccine. In the last few days I've heard from MBAs, engineers and housewives who assure me that they are much more qualified to assess the pros and cons of the vaccine than hundreds of thousands of specialized trained medical scientists in this field.
Given all this, why do I spend so much time and energy trying to educate people to identify misinformation and accept the conclusions of mainstream science? I have several reasons for doing this:
Not everyone is totally immune to using evidence and logic to make their decisions.
Even if facts and logic don't convince them immediately, it may plant seeds which bear fruit later.
It's important to strengthen those who draw correct conclusions and make sensible decisions.
This is one of the ways in which I am stupid.
Hopefully the first three reasons have more validity than the last one.
I'd love to be proven wrong about people changing their minds. If you didn't take the vaccine yet, and the FDA approval has changed your mind, please let me know!
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