Vaxx and facts

Vaxx and facts August 4, 2021

Here’s a post from 10+ years ago about the insufficiency of facts for persuading those whose identity-defining choices cannot account for or accommodate those facts.

The subject then was climate change. The proximate cause for this post was NASA’s fine ca. 2010 web portal compiling and presenting the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that climate change is, in fact, a fact — a real thing the reality of which is not contingent on our “belief” therein. Hence the title of the original post: “Climate change facts, for what that’s worth.”

That discussion seems urgently relevant today as we struggle with a pandemic that remains uncontrollable thanks to millions of our neighbors who proudly defy reality and refuse to care about facts. So I’ve adapted the original post below, changing references to one form of grievously consequential fact-rejection to the more recent example of that same phenomenon. Let’s see if that holds up.

[This site provides] just the sort of single, comprehensive, and accessible presentation of the evidence that is needed to persuade [COVID] denialists who may be misinformed.

The problem, though, is that most such denialists are not simply or sincerely misinformed. Most of them aren’t looking for, or open to, or concerned about the facts of the matter.

The facts of the matter do matter to those for whom facts matter, but what of those for whom they don’t? The … site is conclusive. It presents facts that are demonstrably and undeniably true. Yet those facts are, for many, unpersuasive. How is that possible?

The specifics of [the pandemic] — this set of facts and the response they require and the consequences of failing to respond — are terribly important in particular, but this same bizarre phenomenon of facts not being persuasive is also terribly important in general. Fill a jury box with people who are unpersuaded by facts and killers will be set free while the innocent are imprisoned. Those who are impervious to facts will perpetrate similar injustices in the voting booth.

Telling the truth is a duty. It is the first duty we owe to the truth itself and to every neighbor we meet who is trapped in a lie. Facts matter.

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