Ignorance, Stupidity, Red Lights, and Vaccines
I heard a quote this week on a period drama my wife and I were watching. It was something along the lines of: “Ignorance is better than stupidity, because an ignorant person can still learn.”
I thought that statement profound. We are all ignorant in certain areas. The good news is we can choose to emerge from ignorance through education.
I have on my “quote wall” above my work station at the newspaper office, a related statement attributed to George Bernard Shaw: “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”
It is my casual observation that incidences of “false knowledge” have increased in regard to the COVID-19 vaccine; so much so, that Missouri is in the unfortunately undignified position of being among the leaders in increased cases of COVID-19, in particular the more infectious Delta variant.
The evidence shows us that people who are getting infected in this new “round” of the virus are those who have not been vaccinated.
A recent report from Johns Hopkins University stated, “Cases are rising in many states. … 18 states have greater numbers of new infections now compared with four weeks ago, including Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma, where new daily cases have doubled.”
Hospitalizations are also on the rise in those states where vaccination rates are lowest.
There are usually a handful of “reasons” people are vaccine hesitant. Perhaps they are not educated about the efficacy of the vaccine or have received inaccurate and misleading information about its effects.
Then there are those who clearly illustrate the difference between ignorance and stupidity — the staunch anti-vaccine crowd.
I hold out hope for the former, as misinformation can be countered by fact, science, and education. The latter, unfortunately will often persist in their self-destructive path.
There are some objections to the vaccine that are rooted in religious beliefs. While I respect anyone’s personal beliefs, it is important that those beliefs do not result in unintended negative outcomes for others.
Some object to receiving the vaccine because of many unjustified fears. Some include the idea the vaccine will alter their DNA or that each dose contains a microchip implanted into the body so the government can track people. Both those arguments are simply untrue.
Some object to the vaccine because there have been reported incidents of certain reactions, side effects, or medical problems related to the vaccine. While there are certain concerns, the occurrences of these issues are well within established margins of error and acceptable risk (sometimes registering at statistically zero) regarded as safe.
Some object to the vaccine because they argue it wasn’t tested properly and rushed to market. I, for one, am very thankful for the expertise of scientists and those in medicine who were able to work a “miracle” and get an effective vaccine to people in record time. How many more lives would have been lost except for their efforts?
The fact is COVID-19 vaccines went through rigorous and thorough testing in both the public and the private sector before being authorized by the FDA. It is also a fact the COVID vaccine took longer to develop and deploy than 2009’s H1N1 vaccine and nobody talks negatively about that one!
Still others have objections to the vaccine because they claim it is an invasion of their personal freedom. Allow me to counter this last one with an illustration I recently heard.
In our modern world, we have all agreed to follow certain traffic laws and obey traffic signals for our mutual safety. For example, we come to a stop at a red light, wait for it to turn green, and then proceed through the intersection.
Technically, we have the “personal freedom” to continue driving through a red light, if we so choose. However, that action not only puts the person who exercises that “freedom” in harm’s way, it could potentially be life-threatening to others, even those who have chosen to abide by the traffic regulations.
To not get the vaccine is akin to running a red light, ignoring all the life-saving signals, and stupidly choosing to continue driving recklessly, despising the agreed-upon and effective traffic-control system that saves lives and ensures us the freedom of arriving safely at our destinations.
It is imperative false narratives, misinformation, disinformation, half-truths, and outright lies be exposed; that education and science are rightly esteemed; and that we don’t forget “Ignorance is better than stupidity, because an ignorant person can still learn.”