So why are non-mainstream ideas about Covid 19 refusing to go away?
For people who trust the government, scientists and health experts it’s a pretty simple equation and they’re happy to just get vaccinated. For people who totally dis-trust government and their experts it’s also a pretty simple equation.
But what about the people in the middle who simply have a few questions? For them the government’s clear but simple messaging isn’t enough, in fact it comes over as paternalistic – and for good reason: The government doesn’t trust us enough to give us all the detail and has in the past talked the media out of having open debates about vaccination because “it might confuse people”.
Not surprisingly this refusal to front up for a debate is interpreted by some as a sign that they have something to hide. When the media throws all its support behind the government and conducts witch-hunts against vaccine-heretics it just reinforces that belief that something is going on.
As for social media’s kack-handed attempts to supress false information where even pro-vaccine commentators are getting de-platformed – I couldn’t think of a better way to drive people toward a conspiratorial viewpoint.
Here’s an example of what happens with simple messages: The government never explained that the Pfizer vaccine isn’t designed to create ‘herd immunity’ and it was noticeable that the phrase just seemed to disappear from media discussions a few months ago. When news started to emerge from other countries that some vaccinated people were still getting covid, it just increased the sense distrust that some people had.
People are still arguing on social media about this issue because the government has stated the vaccine is 90% effective, they just didn’t make it clear that its effectiveness is in keeping people out of hospital and not in preventing spread of the virus.
There are any numbers of facts like that to keep people on a conspiracy trail and it’s almost comical watching the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the media as they fail to grasp their own part in making it happen.
The thing that causes the most arguments between people (thanks to the media treatment of people who don’t toe the party line) is not that one side has access to the facts and the other doesn’t so much as the way those facts are being interpreted.
The NZ doctors group opposed to the vaccine refers to plenty of research in their publications and I think they genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing but again the issue is with interpretation of data. The only person who has engaged with them in a meaningful way is Raglan’s Dr Robin Youngson, who has made a detailed explanation of why their interpretation is incorrect. Once again however, the media’s enthusiasm to simply write then off as being sinister or misguided just amps up the impression to their followers that there is a conspiracy at work.
I got asked again this morning where a person with genuine questions can go to find out about the vaccine and all I could recommend is the work Dr Youngson has been doing – most of it with us at Raglan Community Radio. While this looks like a case of self-promotion I literally don’t know of anyone else in this country who is being as straight with their audience. Maybe the government is right that a lot of people will get confused unless they stick to their simple messaging but there have certainly been a few unintended consequences.
An occasional Opinion Column with Aaron Mooar, host of the Morning Show on Raglan Community Radio.