One of the patterns I’ve noticed in the ongoing COVID-19 debates is a resistance to preventative measures and a desperate desire for post-illness treatments. (I have no professional background, but I think this would be a “therapeutic” — something that treats the disease in a remedial way.) You see this in the folks who don’t want to wear a mask or take a vaccine but would rather glom on to hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin or whatever the snake oil of the day comes along. They much prefer a pound of cure to an ounce of prevention. The psychology behind this is interesting to me. I guess it has something to do with humans being generally poor at risk assessment. The masks and social distancing are inconvenient — they impose a cost that you can feel and see. The vaccine has a risk that you are choosing to submit to. Voluntarily submitting to risk, cost, and inconvenience is psychologically uncomfortable. These are probably limbic system reactions. Meanwhile, it’s up to the less visceral, rational part of your brain to understand that there exists in the world a risk of catching COVID and that the impact of having the disease is likely to be greater than the risks of the vaccine or the costs of the other mitigation strategies. That rational understanding of risk is even more attenuated when you’re talking about the idea that you might be a vector of COVID that harms other people.
And so the limbic system conjures up all kinds of reasons not to listen to the neocortex. Masks make you breathe poison. The vaccine isn’t FDA approved. Etc. But when it’s demonstrated that masks don’t cause you to breathe poison and the FDA does give full, final approval for the vaccine, you’ll see these folks shift their reasons. The limbic system doesn’t really care. It’ll come up with new reasons to ignore the neocortex. And these folks will continue to be vectors of COVID and incubators for further mutations.