Sunday, November 14, 2021

Chris Arnade on The Unvaccinated

I have not read his book, Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back-Row America.  I read positive reviews including excerpts when it came out, and I know the local library has a copy.  I just haven't gotten around to that one.

He has observations on his blog about what he is seeing among the unvaccinated. It is similar to what I see myself, but not identical. I know unvaccinateds who do have college degrees. These tend to be from chiropractic/natural sectors or from culturally evangelical, even fringe evangelical types. They tend to talk about those issues more than religious ones, but...small sample size.  I also have contact with people who were military and still strongly identify that way, but of a particular personality type that regards life and its risks as some kind of competition. If they are exposed to disease (not only covid) but don't get it they regard that as a feather in their cap, as if they have demonstrated some superiority over the common stock.  In at least two instances, even tragedies involving close family have not dented that. It is somehow part of their identity to be invulnerable.

Come to think of it, that's not only some of the military guys (and one gal) - that belief in invulnerability, that sense of competition with others to defeat the forces of the universe. Their immune system is stronger than yours, dammit. Some of the natural/alternative medicine/specialty exercise people have that as well.  Not all of them, certainly - I don't think a majority of either of those groups in my circle fit that very strongly.  Maybe I just notice the noisier ones.

Looking back to the people I worked with who were anti-flu shot, and very much alternative medicine folks there were also the general back-to-the-landers, the Wiccans, plus one other group I hadn't thought about much:  people who had a chronic and unusual condition, or a child with one, that wasn't helped much by standard medical measures. This, especially if there was chronic pain. Pain can change everything, and I am not minded to criticise someone too strenuously who is enduring things I am not.  I think that's a whole different feeling. They often were on odd diets or took megadoses of supplements, None of this is breaking down cleanly. Some individuals are fitting a couple of categories here, or have family members who fit one category while they fit another, but both ending up anti-vax.

I think Arnade hits something important that is only at the edge of my thinking until recently.  Discussion of vaccination has focused - both sides - on the specific actions of people in the last 20 months. Usually, of coursse, people focus on the terrible things those other guys did, because that is what humans do.  But Arnade relates this to a much longer pattern of people who feel like they are being ordered around pointlessly - and often have good reason to think that. I was just answering someone over at Maggie's who went off on a tirade about whether I believed what "the government" is telling me about climate change, and the elections in various states, and whether CRT is being taught in the schools.I felt obliged to point out that the CDC has nothing to do with elections or schools, and there were dozens of agencies and levels of government involved here.

Yet he has a point in the broad sense even if his individual accusations are confused. There is a class of people who tell other people what to do a lot. They aren't necessarily cooperating with each other or interconnected, but they do tend to be drawn from the same class and have this attitude. So people develop an attitude of their own in response. I try to push people to make stricter distinctions and keep to one topic at a time, but that does cause me to discount the perspective entirely when I should only be objecting to the vagueness.  The thinking is vague, but that doesn't necessarily make it inaccurate. I am not so much missing the forest for the trees as objecting to a painting of the landscape as unreliable. It might be unreliable as a map.  But it might be valuable as an impression.

Update:  It occurs to me that I am trying to be thorough and make a full case, while Arnade is primarily a writer, attempting to capture a single idea and get it across.  I may have been too hard on him.


james said...

As you note, for "the government" substitute "our ruling elites" and it works. The ruling elite may not always agree with each other, and they jockey for power amongst each other, but they do tend to form a distinct class from the rest.

I only know a handful of unvaxed. One has a goofy idea about DNA--gotten from the doctor, btw--but has health issues that make the vaccine a larger risk than normal. I have heard of people who believe in microchip injections, and have been asked about that by people who don't believe it themselves but wanted an expert opinion. But then I've also been asked about the 5G transmission tower sending the virus rumor, and I'd have hoped that the people asking would have gotten a better science education than that.

I know another who is, but is also deeply suspicious--he's been lied to so often about so many things that guilt-by-association plays a role, I think.

"Believe nothing until it has been officially denied" is proving to be a better rule of thumb than you'd expect. "We're not going to get inflation and it's going to be a good thing."
There were adamant denials that drug X worked long before they knew that to be true--I call that a lie. Several, all in the same direction. (True, those touting the drugs also were claiming what they could not yet know to be true.) I'm not going to rely on any of the chloro/mectin/whatever "miracle drugs". On closer inspection they seem not to be all that and an order of fries. But why were they lied about? The "drug X works" crowd generally relied on word of mouth rather than real studies--the N=1 folks you discuss above. But the premature denials came through sources that should have known better.

Maybe our filters are at fault, rewriting the news to make it more dramatic. But as Arnade notes, common sense says the Wuhan institute was the source of the outbreak, and when Fauci says otherwise I can't blame the NYT for twisting his words.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes, the denials premature or calculated have become part of the landscape. It is good to point out they should also be regarded with suspicion.

Tom Bridgeland said...

I know a lot of unvaxed people. My coworkers. A lot of nurses are really very angry about the vax mandates. Some have quit, others pay the $60 monthly fee our employer mandates to cover their 'excess risk' and to pay for their weekly covid tests. Some of these people had covid, some more than once, and recovered.

My patients. We do get the occasional vaxed person in with covid, usually older people with pre-existing conditions. Obesity is the biggest one I notice. You don't want to be fat and catch covid, at all. But the great number of covid patients remain the unvaxed. I ask, and they rarely have a strong reason, mostly just didn't think much about it, never made a plan to get it. They tend to be folks at the bottom of the economic ladder, low-income whites, immigrants, blacks, hispanics in the first generation or two in the US.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ Tom Bridgeland - my guess is that nurses, like other medical professionals, are angry at the mandate part more than the vaccine part. "I'll assess my own risk, dammit." They know a government one-size-fits-all is bad medicine. I greatly sympathise. The problem is, there are a lot of other people who also think they are qualified to assess their own risk - and clearly aren't, given the dumb-ass reasons they have. So where do we draw the line, given that some people's judgement is terrible enough to create a risk to others?

Anamaria said...

Some nurses have weird ideas. One nurse at my doctor's office is a believer in crystals, aka rocks. Like if I hold a certain rock, in a certain hand, I will give myself bad luck. If I hold the rock in my other hand, I get good luck.
As for mandates, my guess is what I felt in school. One kid misbehaves and everybody in class get punished. They may feel like everybody is being punished for the acts of a few. I do admit that I hated when teachers did that.
However, I did have a friend who had a low immune system due to chemo. Seeing how people didn't care about exposing her to an illness that could kill her, I agree with the mandate.

HMS Defiant said...

At 60 I assessed my risk and decided a 99.9% survival rate meant there was no need to take a vaccine, the quality of which is dubious both as a thing that prevents catching the disease and in that it seems that those vaccinated who still catch the disease are more virulent than those unvaxed. The disease was mild and made me tired for 4 days and I had a not all that painful sore throat. It seems to me that people (95%), are HYSTERICAL about a really petty and mostly harmless disease. Older folks mileage may vary but the response was and still is hysterical over reaction.

Donna B. said...

"it seems that those vaccinated who still catch the disease are more virulent than those unvaxed"

Why do you think it seems that way? Hospitalization numbers and logic would 'seem' to say otherwise. You do realize that no vaccine has ever been 100% effective, don't you? For an N=1 example, I have never shown immunity to measles, mumps, or rubella though I've had the vaccine at least 4 times. (Pregnancy gets one tested for this.) I've also never had (as far as I know) any of those diseases. I also had the smallpox vaccine twice because I didn't "scar" the first time (or the second, but by then the disease was close to being considered eliminated).

I do agree that much of the response has been hysterical on the part of some governments, but I disagree that this is a 'petty and mostly harmless' disease. I also question the 99.9% survival rate you cite because you combined that with your experience of N=1 of tiredness and a mild sore throat for 4 days.

Linda Fox said...

Some of the thinking behind those opposed to mandatory Covid shots include the following (none of this is irrational):
- The threat, among non-obese people under 50 is generally low. At the lowest, youngest end, the threat of side effects is considerably greater than the chances of getting a serious case of Covid. So, looking at statistical percentages, it's not an irrational decision to forego the shot.
- If a family has some medical history of clotting disorders (strokes, sickle cell, the other various anemias that are prevalent in the Mediterranean region), it might be prudent to avoid a shot.
- Pregnancy risks are statistical, not predictable. That's a family decision, and I'm not going to fault a woman who decides against it.
- It is immoral to force a generally healthy person to take an injection for a disease that has low incidence in that age group, particularly since hospitalization and/or death are relatively rare outcomes. That's true particularly when the goad is loss of a job/income.
The testing is rife with false positives (not that high in false negatives). Those testing are not given information about the number of cycles that the PCR tests will run (however, after 35 cycles, the test is essentially worthless - almost ALL tests will generate a positive outcome).
My background? Retired science who has been on top of the Scientific (not politically slanted) reports. When possible, I go to the initially reporting sites - medical journals, CDC, etc. No, I do not hang around the wackier conspiracy sites (right or left).

Linda Fox said...

Retired science teacher.