A More Honest Explanation for Medical Skepticism

Jacob, Z. Hess, Ph.D.

Stop pretending your friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters with serious questions about prevailing COVID-19 policies are simply selfish, ignorant, or dishonest. As gratifying as that might feel to those of you frustrated over their dissent, it’s simply not an honest or fair position to take – at least, not if you intend to represent the full scope of people’s motives. If you’re open to it, there’s another way to explain much of the public resistance, in a way that doesn’t misrepresent the experience of those who continue to maintain it.

David Brooks wrote recently suggesting that people hesitant to go along with the program and get vaccinated (or mask up) demonstrate an insufficient trust and willingness to “sacrifice for the common good” and support “collective action.” Jay Evertsen similarly argued in recent days that hesitancy around wearing masks among those who have opted out of the vaccine largely reflects a question of “basic honesty of Americans” – hinting that those resistant to these measures are perpetuating at least some “sort of lie.” 

Many others have insisted that those harboring such skepticism for prevailing public health guidelines are willingly ignorant – even hostile to – “the science” and the common knowledge they see as indubitable and obvious.

Ignorance. Dishonesty. And selfishness. 

That’s about the extent of many people’s conceptions regarding what’s behind the skepticism significant portions of America feels towards prevailing medical dictates. And it baffles me, to be frank, that so many of these same people struggle to imagine any other explanations for resistance.  

Of course, few would deny the growing dishonesty, ignorance and self-absorption in American society today. That is all true. Yet I write this morning to push back against the easy layering of those national trends on top of any and all medical skepticism – underscoring, instead, another possible explanation for such hesitance, resistance, and skepticism to prevailing medical dictates (spanning from masks to lockdowns to vaccines and beyond – opioids, psychiatry, etc.). 

My central argument is that another explanation “fits the data” better in terms of what’s actually happening, and in a way that doesn’t require you to presume that a big chunk of your fellow countrymen and women are just more selfish (and less honest or enlightened) than you are. 

Competing philosophies of health and healing. That explanation centers on something I’m, once again, a little shocked isn’t more apparent to most Americans – or even obvious. Namely, that there are competing philosophies of health and healing in America today…philosophies very much relevant to the COVID-19 debates of the last year.

Why wouldn’t that be obvious?

Maybe because so few people have heard those differences articulated in clear, fair-minded ways (pretty hard to do that when one side of that contrast has been categorically scrubbed from social media!) 

Instead of considering these meaningful differences seriously, the prevailing discourse around health (ala, CNN, Washington Post, Deseret News) almost always takes for granted that we’re all on the same page – X is what the scientists all believe, Y, is what all the doctors say, and Z is what all public health officials believe, right? 

There is no question that many – even most – public health officials think similarly about these matters…as do most mainstream (allopathic) doctors, and many scientists who conduct controlled trials of medical interventions. There are reasons for that similarity and consistency (given a socialization in similar training programs). This similarity and consistency shows up in statements made by the largest, most prominent (and well-funded) groups of doctors and professional associations – and is leveraged in public rhetoric to effectively persuade the majority of Americans to embrace these proposed consensus views as “the” scientific truth of the matter.    

No one would dispute the dominance of these larger opinions. But rather than representing them accurately, as “the prevailing view,” they have been represented as precisely this – something far more than a dominant view, and instead “what the science says” and “what all doctors believe.” (Thus, when Rand Paul announces his decision to not get vaccinated due to acquiring natural immunity, NBC News is quick to add in their summary, “Experts disagree.” (Notice, not some experts: Experts).

That is what I’m highlighting as simply not true. There is legitimate division among experts – both physicians and researchers. But can you blame people for thinking otherwise, when any dissenting voices (including thoughtful, credentialed, authoritative critics) are actively censored and silenced? 

Starting in 2018, Facebook systematically began to delete hundreds of “natural healing” sites – without, in most cases, any explanation given (see my own piece on this, “A Short History of Social Media Bans“). This purge has received relatively little attention, compared with conservatives accounts getting deplatformed – but it has silenced and crippled alternative perspectives on health in significant ways. 

Some honest questions for fellow believers. I’ve often wanted to ask other brothers and sisters of faith observing this all: Is there anything even slightly creepy to you in witnessing such pervasive silencing of anyone raising even an honest question about the orthodox medical views we’ve been presented over the last year?

Yes, these efforts have been framed up and justified in the name of “battling misinformation” – a campaign which many Christians have been willing to support, with missionary zeal – “let’s do our part to get the truth out there!”

Yet I would ask, if the views expressed by prevailing medical authorities are legitimately reflective of higher truth (and God’s will), is that truth really that fragile – as to not be able to endure questioning? Since when is genuine truth so threatened by honest scrutiny and public examination? 

I’ve also been eager to ask fellow Christians, this: We’ve watched over the last decade (especially) as our beliefs about sexuality have been actively misrepresented and deformed in popular media outlets, in a way that starkly distorts the truth as we understand it. Yet when it comes to matters of public health, many of you look to these same popular media outlets with remarkable levels of trust and certitude – following pronouncements from official government entities and popular health officials as if they were simple reflections of reality or higher inspiration itself. “Dr. Fauci reveals…” “The CDC now clarifies what people are allowed to do…” “Moderna reported the exciting news that its vaccine is powerfully effective for teens…”

My curiosity is simply this: Given prior history, what leads you now to give such remarkable trust to government, media, and pharmaceutical institutions – with so much surety and confidence that they are getting these matters of health right? 

Those are honest questions. I don’t expect you to believe what the skeptics believe. But I would at least ask you to stop pretending that meaningful, ongoing differences in how Americans see health don’t play a central and overriding role in these contrasting responses to current public health policies – which we return to below:    

Whose choices matter the MOST in terms of our own health? For most people, I would argue, they tend to see their own health as centered on choices and actions that they make (or don’t make). That is, if watch Netflix till dawn, have Red Bulls for breakfast, and sit in front of a screen all day hardly seeing the sun, few of us are surprised if we start to feel not-so-hot.    

It’s fair to say this would still be the most natural and common way people understand the body falling into disease, as well as the most obvious way someone finds their way out: by taking care of their own body in a better way. At the beginning of the pandemic, Public Square Magazine published a piece by a researcher at Mayo Clinic and another physician specializing in gerontology, outlining very simple and clear steps any American could take to protect themselves from COVID-19 (“Five Steps Towards More Confidence Against Coronavirus”). 

They spoke of common sense, research-based recommendations in terms of adjustments to sleep, physical activity, diet, and stress, that everyone could take – perhaps especially the most vulnerable – to increase their natural protection against infectious disease.

When was the last time you heard that kind of advice from public health officials speaking amidst our pandemic?    

Almost never, right?  I can’t remember a single time personally.

Imagine what it could have meant for this difficult health crisis to prompt new humility and scrutiny of our lives collectively. Imagine where we would be today, if this had been taken as a large-scale reminder to make adjustments in our lives, in terms of how we take care of ourselves (and those we love too)?

Instead of that, the prevailing narrative of health invites our attention in a very different direction. Rather than focus on the range of things any individual can or should do in their own lives and homes to care for their body (and boost their immune system), the prevailing narrative of healing encourages virtually all public attention to move outward – and consider the central, determining role of factors outside of themselves.    

Remarkably enough, almost the entire focus of public health education over the last year has been on what’s happening around you: How close are you to others around you who might be sick? How effectively are you – and they – wearing a protective barrier to keep viruses and germs from traveling between you? And, of course, how many of your fellow Americans around you are “doing the right thing” and “doing their part” to get vaccinated? 

That’s been our focus, right? Almost exclusively. I’m simply drawing attention here to that focus – and the associated message of how much YOUR health and well-being are dependent on the choices and decisions of OTHERS around you (e.g., whether others mask up like they’re supposed to, stay home like they’re supposed to, take the vaccine like they’re supposed to…and whether researchers succeed in continuing to develop the next “miraculous” intervention).

All THIS is what our health depends on, right? Certainly not simply on your own choices.

Isn’t that interesting…and maybe a little troubling? 

Maybe it isn’t for you. But for many millions of Americans, it feels downright strange. It doesn’t feel right. And it’s not an approach to healing we trust, or want to follow.  

Granted, most Americans earnestly believe otherwise – and see all these established interventions (and the narrative supporting them) as patently obvious. Why wouldn’t our best answers to the pandemic come from new scientific discoveries made possible by pharmaceutical company initiative and enormous government investment?

It’s true that survey data confirms measurable differences on all these questions in terms of race, class and education. While media outlets represent these distinctions as a function of simple racism and lack of exposure to enlightened scientific views, I would argue these social demographics also represent people occupying places where they haven’t been subject to as much persuasion from dominant medical ethos – and where their own challenging life experiences have led them to harbor some perhaps well-earned skepticism.

(By the way, no one – myself included – is questioning the reality of our interconnectedness – how sickness can spread among us, how the vulnerable were more at risk from the spread of COVID, etc.  My primary questions here aim to surface these contrasting emphases in our health discussions – and the degree to which we focus on our own choices, or on the choices of others around us.) 

Given the dominant emphasis on external factors upon which our collective health is contingent, it shouldn’t surprise us to see campaigns over the last year focused almost entirely on (a) encouraging Americans to separate themselves far enough away from each other through physical distance or masking barriers and then (b) preparing these same citizens to embrace COVID-19 vaccination as THE miraculous answer to the pandemic. 

As a result, neither should it surprise us to see the current level of angst and handwringing in public commentaries over whether enough people will get the vaccine to overcome the pandemic. Once again, when you’ve been persuaded that YOUR health depends largely on what OTHERS do, this is precisely the question you should ask…and exactly what should keep you up at night.   

But wait, Jacob – are you raising questions about the centrality of “herd immunity” and the larger public health messaging around how best to end a pandemic – and protect us against future threats? 

That’s exactly what I’m doing. People a lot smarter than me – and with a lot more credentials around infectious disease – have been doing it for far longer than the last year. Oh wait, haven’t heard of them yet?

There are good reasons for that. And it’s not because they’re not speaking up. For many decades, thousands of thoughtful practitioners have been exploring alternative approaches – ways to support and encourage the body in growing stronger in its own defenses. The entire fields of naturopathic medicine, chiropractic medicine, homeopathic medicine, and osteopathic medicine reflect various departures from the medical orthodoxy of allopathic medicine. 

And yet, rather than making space to at least hear out all perspectives on the questions (as you would expect in a conversation aiming for the “whole truth, and nothing but to the truth”), these alternative voices have been not only consistently censored, they are endlessly pilloried and mocked (“kooky/loony!….pseudoscience/unscientific…crazy….fanatic…conspiracists). 

That’s what you are called when you start to question medical orthodoxy. Instead of allowing these voices to speak openly, better to just work hard to circulate these insults and accusations (none of this should sound unfamiliar to Latter-day Saints, who have swum in similar waters of slander, and misrepresentation, for 150 years – due to their own heretical questions of prevailing orthodoxy).

As a result, the vast majority of Americans have never heard any of these thoughtful critics.  You see, their messages were carefully scrubbed from Youtube (and Facebook) a long time ago. All that, once again, contributes substantially to prevailing sense of a “health consensus.” 

Even otherwise good media platforms have been swept up in the trend – needing to hew with the prevailing narrative in order to maintain social respect (In fact, Millenial Star is one of the few Latter-day Saint publications than would even countenance raising these kinds of questions).

Of course, acknowledging the reality of competing views on the best way to heal the body is NOT a great way to get people united around a single philosophy of health – or get that same population to be compliant in accepting a particular intervention.

Hence, the suppression. The lampooning of alternatives. And the ceaseless, unending media promotion of a single view of health.

It’s all been remarkably painful for many of us to watch and witness.

I would ask, in closing: What does such a suppression of questions mean for our collective ability to discern truth? Are we really justified in being so fearful of alternative perspectives – and so quick to condemn them?  Even this simple article, that makes no grand concerted effort to convince people, will surely be accused of stirring up “vaccine hesitancy.”

I won’t – and can’t – persuade you to embrace alternative views of health and healing. But I can – and have tried – to persuade you that those views at least exist. And that they are held by many millions of Americans who care equally (just as much as you) about preserving life and helping America overcome the pandemic.

No, that may not be as satisfying as casting epithets at those embodying such “rampant selfishness” and “blinding ignorance” of what should be “patently obvious” to all.

But it’s more honest.

And if it’s the “Truth” that makes us all free in the end, maybe we should take pains to ensure we’re seeing that truth about other people – and promoting a conversation where finding that truth is still possible.

23 thoughts on “A More Honest Explanation for Medical Skepticism

  1. I want to thank you for this thoughtful, well-reasoned article Jacob, and I agree with your analysis.

  2. The suppression of honest open discourse on so many subjects (wuhan lab, voting integrity, CRT, etc) has caused such a skepticism about anything we are being told to believe and the demonization and silencing of dissenters has only added to that distrust.

  3. Brilliant Jacob, thank you. Just a few data points:
    –Does nobody remember when the “food pyramid” recommended eating mostly grains (which were processed to take out all of the nutrients) and said that fat is bad for you and never had a problem with massive amounts of sugar? I certainly do — I grew up with that food pyramid, which was the “consensus” from the 1970s and 1980s into the early 1990s when the official pyramid was published in 1992. It turns out these recommendations were completely wrong-headed. Of course we should be skeptical of government advice on health when the most important advice we could get (what we should eat) was so completely and spectacularly wrong.
    –In March and April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, the local authorities in Colorado PUT MANNED POLICE CARS IN THE PARKING LOTS OF PARKS TO PREVENT PEOPLE GOING HIKING. Even then, the science was saying the safest thing you could do was to get outside and get some Vitamin D and get some exercise. Yet here was the government, in an outdoors oriented state like Colorado, telling us to stay cooped in our homes where the virus could potentially thrive. Tell me again why we should trust government advice?
    –Nearly everything reported confidently about the virus the last 15 months has been questioned with new information over the last few months, including the latest explosive story that the virus probably DID come from a lab in Wuhan, but the truth has been systematically censored by the corporate media and Facebook, Twitter and Google. Facebook even admitted this yesterday and said they will no longer delete posts saying the virus came from the Wuhan lab. Why did they think they could delete these posts in the first place?

    Please excuse us if we don’t automatically accept whatever the corporate media and the social media companies report as the truth. Based on recent history, you would have to be a complete lemming not to question such things.

  4. Thanks so much for this article. I also echo what Geoff said. During my health journey the last few years following the Keto diet, I’ve experienced such a profound change for good in my health that I have a hard time believing ANYTHING the government puts forth as the ‘truth’. I’ve reached the point where if the government says something, I tend to automatically be skeptical and look to voices that put forth opposite viewpoints. I honestly don’t understand the blind devotion to government as ‘the good’ when it’s so obvious to me that they don’t have the public’s welfare in mind with all these policies.

  5. Geoff, great examples you cite. My mother in law was told that science showed that feeding your baby formula was better than breast feeding. they said it was so much more sophisticated and only poor people would breast feed. And she lived through the Thalidomide tragedy. I’m not an extremist or reactionary person.I believe in modern medicine . My father was an MD, but I also have seen how what the experts say changes so we need to educate ourselves for ourselves.
    I was scoffed at years ago when I looked for a dentist for my kids that didn’t use mercury fillings. Now it is accepted that there are negative effects from putting mercury in one’s mouth. Ya think!
    Many of the natural remedies I used ion my kids 30 years ago that were considered on the fringe are now on your grocery store shelves.

  6. Ann, yes, I remember the Nestle boycott of the 1970s. Nestle’s dishonest marketing campaign was telling people worldwide that “the science” indicated that formula (made by Nestle) was more healthy than breast milk. And I remember that many people believed that propaganda (and I even know some people who believe it today).

  7. First Presidency statement that seems relevant:
    “Immunization is such a simple, yet vital, matter and such a small price to pay for protection against these destroying diseases. We urge members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect their own children through immunization. Then they may wish to join other public-spirited citizens in efforts to eradicate ignorance and apathy that have caused the disturbingly low levels of childhood immunization.
”
    Spencer Kimball, Marion Romney, Eldon Tanner (1976)

  8. I gotta be honest. It’s statements like that from the First Presidency that make me question the church. They seem to always go along with whatever the prevailing ‘scientific consensus’ is despite the fact that so much of it is wrong, in my opinion and based on my own study and experience. I realize that they are just men, with the same prejudices many people have received from the education systems most of us go through. President Nelson, for instance, is a doctor who went through the medical schools that taught a lot of the BS that is the prevailing medical consensus today, so I get why he might be blind to other possibilities and other avenues of medicine, but it seems like the church just blindly follows the establishment. It’s been a faith testing time for me with all the dumb masking and social distancing requirements in our meetings.

  9. I don’t like loud or insistent voices on any side of an argument, including the side I might want to agree with. We need more rational conversation rather than volume or dogmatism.

    I am somewhat sympathetic to anti-maskers today, but many months ago I gave the benefit of the doubt to the pro-maskers — even so, I am still dismayed by the loud and insistent voices of some anti-maskers while at the same time dismayed by the hypocrisy of people like the Michigan governor who issue orders and edicts and then break them themselves.

    I am glad vaccines are available and I hope everyone will avail themselves of them. When someone chooses not to get a vaccine, I wish he or she would do so quietly as a personal decision rather than attacking the vaccine roll-out or those who chose to be vaccinated.

    Yes, we lose when we demonize our neighbors.

  10. I wish the pro-vaccine people would do so quietly also. The virtue-signaling that goes on with the pro-vaccine, pro-government, pro-“science” crowd gets wearysome.

  11. David’s comment on vaccinations (and Aaron’s response to it) points to a frustration of mine. It seems like nobody understand nuance anymore. You can be in favor of vaccines in general and certainly the vaccines that were available in the 1970s (which I am) and still wonder if getting the COVID vaccine is necessary for you if you are a young healthy person. You can be in favor of high risk people getting the COVID vaccine (which I am) and still be opposed to government mandates and vaccine passports.

    OF COURSE Church leaders were in favor of the vaccines that were available in the 1970s. Have you studied what a horrific disease polio is? Most Americans were panicked about polio in the first half of the 20th century, and it was a real threat. The polio vaccine was seen as a miracle, and Jonas Salk, the inventor of the vaccine, became a worldwide hero. The vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus and the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubela) were also extremely popular in the 1970s, and vaccination campaigns were so successful that the smallpox vaccine was no longer necessary. There is nothing at all controversial about Church leaders recommending these proven vaccines.

    Meanwhile, Church leaders, all of them older, have publicly gotten the COVID vaccines. Again, if you are over 70 it seems a wise precaution to get the COVID vaccine. Should younger people get it? Some of us have decided to wait and see which vaccine is the most effective and has the fewest side effects. Again, this seems a common sense measure.

    And, yes, a recent study proves that if you have already had COVID (which I have), the antibodies may protect you the rest of your life, so getting a vaccine may not be necessary. You can read about that here:

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01442-9

    So, please, let’s stop with the nonsensical claims that you are an “anti-vaxxer” if you are young and healthy want to wait and see what happens with the various COVID vaccines, especially if you have already had COVID. And let’s also stop with the nonsensical claims that Church leaders recommending vaccines is somehow over the top. Nearly everybody in the 1970s was pro-vaccine, and personally I am very thankful for the various vaccines I was able to get in the 1960s and 1970s, and the vaccines my kids have gotten since then.

  12. Geoff B. – You are so correct! I tell people over and over about my mother’s perspective. She saw some of her childhood friends die of diseases that are now prevented by vaccine. She was a firm believer in the efficacy of vaccines.
    However, I’m really skeptical of the current situation. Neither the government nor its propaganda arm, the media, can be trusted to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Satan’s minions are working overtime to destroy us anyway they can.

  13. No, COVID infection and recovery are not likely to provide you protection for the rest of your life, and the Nature study you reference does not make that claim. This is obvious from what has happened in Brazil.

    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/371/6526/230.long

    The SARS-CoV2 is exceedingly expert at manipulating and redirecting your immune responses. Vaccination with just a spike protein removes all those immunomodulatory functions, resulting in considerably stronger, more effective memory responses that include both T and B cells. Thankfully, even young people are far better off with vaccination against this disease than simply relying on natural infection.

    Like COVID-19, polio, smallpox, etc. were terrible diseases and vaccines were new and scary when they were introduced. Brigham Young Jr. said that smallpox vaccination was “gentile doctors forcing Babylon into the people and some of them are willing to disease the blood of our children if they can do so, and they think they are doing God’s service”.

  14. Above I use the word “may.” It is too early to know for sure. But the science indicates a growing timeline of immunity after infection. There is little reason for people who have had SARS-CoV-2 and recovered to get a vaccine, which is my larger point.

    From the Lancet April 2021:

    https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00782-0/fulltext

    “A study in the UK reported in The Lancet by Victoria Hall and colleagues,8 called the SARS-CoV-2 Immunity and Reinfection Evaluation (SIREN) study, suggests that being seropositive to SARS-CoV-2 through natural infection protects robustly from asymptomatic and symptomatic reinfection. The study analysed data from 25 661 enrolled health-care workers between June 18, 2020, and Jan 11, 2021, including 8278 individuals with known previous SARS-CoV-2 infection, of whom the vast majority were antibody positive at enrollment and 17 383 individuals who were seronegative and had not previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2. 21 617 (84·2%) of 25 661 participants were women and 4010 (15·6%) were men, with a median age of 45·7 years. 87·3% of the participants were White, 6·9% were mixed race, 2·0% were Asian, 1·6% were Black, 1·3% were Chinese, 0·6% were from other ethnic groups, and 0·2% preferred not to specify. Individuals were followed up with questionnaires (every 2 weeks), PCR for SARS-CoV-2 (every 2 weeks), and serology (at enrolment and every 4 weeks). 1704 infections occurred in the naive cohort, while two probable (required supportive serological data or supportive viral genomic data) and 153 possible (two positive PCR results 90 days apart or an antibody-positive individual with new positive PCR test 4 weeks after the first antibody positive test) infections occurred in the SARS-CoV-2-experienced cohort. Additionally, 864 individuals in the naive group seroconverted over the study interval but were not counted towards SARS-CoV-2 infections. The authors report previous SARS-CoV-2 infection provided a 84% risk reduction for reinfection (adjusted incidence rate ratio [aIRR] 0·159, 95% CI 0·13–0·19) and 93% risk reduction for those with symptomatic infections (aIRR 0·074, 0·06–0·10). Importantly, a variant of concern known as B.1.1.7 did circulate during the final part of the observation period, causing about 50% of all infections, but did not seem to have an effect on reinfection rates.

    The findings of the authors suggest that infection and the development of an antibody response provides protection similar to or even better than currently used SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”

    From this article:
    https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2021/05/27/rand-paul-says-people-natural-covid-immunity-should-skip-vaccine/7468051002/

    “In a recent British study, David Wyllie and others found no symptomatic re-infections from COVID-19 after following 2800 patients for several months. In fact, there have been no reports of significant numbers of re-infections after acquiring COVID-19 naturally.

    Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, concludes from his experiments that, “The amount of (immune) memory (gained from natural infection) would likely prevent the vast majority of people from getting hospitalized disease, severe disease, for many years.”

    In this study which was published in Science, Crotty showed that antibody levels stayed relatively constant with only “modest declines at 6-8 months.”

    Crotty reported that “Notably, memory B cells specific for the spike protein or RBD were detected in almost all COVID-19 cases, with no apparent half-life at 5 to 8 months after infection.” In other words, Crotty found significant evidence of long-term immunity after COVID infection.

    Furthermore, Crotty noted, “B cell memory to some other infections has been observed to be long-lived, including 60+ years after smallpox vaccination, or 90+ years after infection with influenza.”

    We have begun to study this, though we already know the answer — natural immunity against COVID 19 appears to be at least as good as vaccine immunity.”

  15. this downplaying of alternate views applies to almost everything. It applies to “global warming skeptics” (there are documented 10s of thousands of experts, including at least one Nobel prize winning physicist) who look at the raw data and don’t take the popular position. Do you hear that the 2 most common and “effective” Covid “vaccines” do not meet the definition of vaccine that was accepted a year ago? (they are closer to gene therapy than a traditional vaccine) That the reason many candidate drugs are not approved is not that they aren’t effective in treating the intended condition but that the side effects (including long term effects) are not considered an acceptable exchange. Especially for youth and children, whose bodies are evolving. We don’t have ANY data on their long-term affects, or on any affects that might make giving the treatment to someone who already has antibodies because of having contracted the virus. Some highly respected experts in the field have warned against providing those already with antibodies and anyone under the age of 18. Having worked as a chemist, statistician and chemical engineer for well over 40 years, I consider myself qualified to review data and see trends and identify “holes”. I’m not a virologist or expert in pandemics, but almost all virologists I hear or read tend to speak as statisticians or biochemists – out of their field. No wonder there is distrust and silencing of dissent (I always thought that science was to encourage dissent….).

  16. Bruce, yes. This:

    “At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes–an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.”

    ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

    What we are seeing today, from climate science to COVID science to health science, is a massive attempt to NOT be open to new ideas and a rigid lack of skepticism for “consensus” opinions. This is not science.

  17. Thank you for this article. I remember being rebuffed for implying maybe masking children wasn’t a good thing. I still believe that.

    I also don’t believe that taking a vaccine that I doesn’t contain ANY of the virus, and changes forever how your own, God-given immune system works, with no way to reverse this effect is a good, nor necessary thing. Also remember these “vaccines” aren’t approved by the FDA, only permitted for emergency use. There are no legitimate vaccines for COVID 19. People who already suffer from autoimmune issues who take this jab are more likely to develop more serious autoimmune issues, and people who don’t have AI issues are very likely to develop one or more AI health issues in the future. There’s no guarantee that people who have taken this “vaccine” will be able to have children. I did have links to these articles and videos from well-respected doctors of virology and rheumatology, but they’ve all been removed from the internet. What does that tell you?

  18. As a young person who has had COVID, but has decided to ‘wait and see’ about the vaccine, I’d like to say that I have mixed feelings. I did encourage my parents (60+ years old) to get the vaccine when it was not widely available, especially since one of them has a comorbidity. And after the first shot, my parent got COVID (at the same time I did, we still don’t know from where) and was hospitalized for several days. Thankfully we avoided getting sick while the hospitals were overwhelmed, and they got the care they needed to survive and recover.

    We’ve tried, as a family, to stay healthy over the last year. We dutifully wore masks where required, to try and keep my parents safe. We voluntarily stayed home. But I’ve been increasingly troubled at how the goalposts shifted, and how the government has encroached on rights once thought inviolate. I’m even more worried at how dissent has been quashed by social media and tech companies.

    So thank you, Jacob, for your thoughtful article. I am not anti-vaccine, I am just trusting in my own immune system for a while, until the scientists find out a little more about side effects from the vaccine and the probable length of natural immunity. In the meantime, I’m trying to be respectful to all kinds of viewpoints that differ from my own, because we could all use a little more kindness in the world after the year we’ve had.

  19. Thank you for the thoughtful comments, everyone. I appreciate you pointing out that nuance, Geoff – and raising the other supportive examples. The Carl Sagan quote is powerful – and exactly what scientific discourse seems to be forgetting. And Bruce is right – this goes well beyond this issue.

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