The reason why there so much skepticism towards the rollout of vaccinations for COVID-19 is a fundamental lack of trust in established institutions. The normie blue-pilled response to this skepticism is that people aren’t educated and they have been turned against the scientific method. But it’s not about evidence for or against these new vaccines. It’s about the will to believe, and governments, the news and popular media have themselves to blame for eroding this will.
Such is the prevailing wind in this post-truth world we live in. Philosopher Simon Blackburn mused that it’s not the dispute over facts that is foundational, the key issue is trust. If there is no consensus on what qualifies as an authority of truth, it’s easy for society to ideologically splinter, and each side forms their own bubble, impenetrable to evidence. Blackburn makes the mistake of blaming it all on Trump. The right would conversely lay all the blame on the left. What we have for sure is two or more competing foundational belief systems that seem irreconcilable.
We can also be sure that it’s not about policy. It’s not as if one side has a list of policy prescriptions that in 2020 happen to be more different than the other side’s. Of course, policy preferences do differ, but this is a second-order effect of the degradation of trust.
They tell us to “trust the science.” What this means practically speaking is left to the imagination. This is because the regular Joe doesn’t know what to do when blankly told to trust the science. Presumably it doesn’t mean swallow any old nonsense provided by some guy saying it’s “scientific.”
Inevitably there’s a gap between the science and the interpreters of science, and a gap again between the interpreters and the general public. Scientists with comparable credentials regularly disagree with each other. There’s junk science out there. You wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling a little lost.
It always comes back to trust. To whom do we defer? For those bleating on about “trusting the science,” the implicit answer to this conundrum is to accept wholesale the corporate press-supported mainstream interpretation of the science.
Do we really need to wonder why there is such a lack of popular trust in establishment sources?
Well, if we’re just looking at 2020, we ought to consider the mainstream flip-flopping on whether masks are an effective defence against contracting the virus. Did governments make a genuine mistake in trusting the World Health Organisation’s advice back in March not to wear masks unless one had symptoms or was caring for someone who was sick?
Whether the advice was wise or not, governments seemed to have switched narratives drastically
Here is a screenshot of the UK’s Department of Health from earlier in the year:
Now according to the British health authorities, American CDC, and all respectable publications, we need to accept that masks work, and get over it.
So if it wasn’t a mistake, was that all benevolent propaganda for fear of running out of masks for frontline health workers? This is an understandable public health strategy, but one could see why some people might be a little peeved that they weren’t informed of the information like sensible adults. From there they might have been better prepared in their behaviour around their own health, and their loved ones.
There’s strike one. Strike two is the gaslighting by government and media around this issue of masks, as well as the lockdowns. The lockdown strategy is another touch point the authorities have been ambiguous about since COVID-19 became serious. How it started: With the New York Times shaming China for “authoritarian” methods of controlling the spread. How it’s going: The New York Times shaming the lockdown-skeptical Great Barrington Declaration.
It’s gone from reassurances that severe restrictions as seen in China could never happen here, to accusing you of not understanding exponential curves (they’re quite easy to understand, as it turns out), not understanding science at all, or wanting to kill people’s grandmothers if you happen to think lockdowns are an unacceptable violation of individual rights for something that has questionable effect on the spread of the virus.
Only recently has the New York Times in particular acknowledged that there are costs associated with lockdowns – namely an increase in mental health problems, delays to life-saving surgeries, and the breaking down of global supply chains that go along with giant economic upheaval, etc. Took you long enough, NYT?
Is there any wonder why Trusted News Media(TM) doesn’t quite have the popular legitimacy it might once have had?
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