Validating Beliefs With Invalid Information

A Harvard study is going viral among anti-vaxxers. The author says they are all wrong.
New research backing vaccines is being twisted to smear them.

Over email, Subramanian insisted that the positive effects of vaccines are not in any doubt: “Other research has clearly and definitively established that the vaccines significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization and mortality.”

Despite the misinterpretation, anti-vaxxers and vaccine skeptics like Horowitz have held up and shared Subramanian’s paper as vindication on an array of platforms that have struggled to fight false anti-vaccine information. Horowitz’s own column has been tweeted out to at least half-a million users. Posts bringing attention to the paper have done well on anti-vax and right-wing Reddit groups; a summary was posted to over a dozen subreddit communities with over 34 million followers.

This article validates my last point that many people like anti-vaxxers are misunderstanding the meaning of things relating to the pandemic because they don’t have the cognitive and psychological capacity to make sense of the greater complexity around it. Because of this, they often jump to conclusions or make beliefs about things that are completely untrue. Often it’s because they want a simple answer to the complex problems they’re facing but there isn’t one.

It should be stressed though that people who don’t have the capacity to understand the complexity of these things are not “stupid.” In effect, the problem isn’t their intelligence. It’s actually their perception.

In fact, the more educated you are, the more rigid your perception and beliefs will probably be. This is as I noted before. If your beliefs, values, and way of life have successfully gotten you to where you are today, it’s unlikely you will want to give them up, regardless of the newer, more complex problems you encounter. In effect, you’re “hardwired” to want to continue to use them.

This is why unlearning is one of the greatest skills required for the future. It’s not about unlearning old job skills. It’s about unlearning beliefs and previous ways of doing things that are engrained within us because they will more than likely no longer work with the complex problems we face today. In fact, by using older ways of doing things, we will be amplifying the problems before us.

By Nollind Whachell

Questing to translate Joseph Campbell's Hero’s Journey into The Player’s Handbook for the roleplaying game called Life, thus making vertical (leadership) development an accessible, epic framework for everyone.

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