Speaking With Morons
Logic and evidence-bound critical thinkers find it hard, even pointless, to converse with conspiracy theorists even those within their own families.
Andrew Coyne writes there's nothing you can say to give them pause. The infrastructure of mass delusion is now too well developed.Take, for example, the anti-vaccine movement. A few years ago, anti-vaxxers could be dismissed as a few isolated loons. Now they are an organized campaign, with Facebook pages and talking points. They seem especially numerous among the populist right.
On social media, you can see them repeating the same phrases over and over, suggesting the COVID vaccines, and particularly the mRNA-based models developed by Pfizer and Moderna, present a new and special threat. “Hey, I’ve got nothing against vaccines,” they will say. “I’ve been vaccinated many times. But not with this kind of experimental drug/gene therapy.” (For the record, mRNA vaccines are neither experimental nor do they involve gene therapy.)
The notion that vaccines might be required as a condition of work or school, or to attend large social events – the “vaccine passport” – seems to inspire a particular terror. “This is exactly what the Nazis did to the Jews” gives you the flavour of it, although the spectre of Communism is invoked nearly as often.
The war on truth is everywhere these days, enabled by social media and exploited by political and foreign actors: part of the broader “epistemic crisis” that is crippling the democracies. But this is even more serious. When the infodemic meets the pandemic, people die.