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Kelly Cheek
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The spheres are in commotion

I recently spent time with some anti-vaxxers. As one does with family, I didn’t engage. Religion and politics are generally accepted as topics to be avoided. And they didn’t engage us either, at least not until near the end of the visit.

People in certain lines of work are losing their jobs rather than getting vaccinated, leaving huge employment gaps. Restaurants, health care centers, etc., are now understaffed because some people refuse to get vaccinated against a potentially deadly disease, and they’re up in arms about it.

The argument was that it’s unconstitutional to force someone to get a vaccination. The fact, though, is that it’s not at all unconstitutional for a company to establish certain requirements for people that they hire, especially when those requirements are for the protection of the rest of their staff and clientele.

The argument was finished with the statement that, “Well, we all have to respect each other’s opinions if we’re going to get along.”

To quote Colonel Potter fromĀ M*A*S*H, I respectfully say, “Horse pucky.”

I certainly DO NOT have to respect an opinion that’s based on ignorance of facts. When science and documented evidence proves that vaccinations slow and prevent the spread of a dangerous disease, your opinion that it’s unconstitutional is not only irrelevant, it’s downright stupid. As Isaac Asimov wrote:

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

People get their opinions confused with facts all the time. An opinion is a personal thought or preference, one which doesn’t rely on, or need, a scientific basis. Others may disagree with it, but that doesn’t determine its validity.

You may feel that your country music is better than my classic rock. I may disagree vehemently with your assessment, but your opinion is harmless because it doesn’t affect others adversely, except, perhaps, any who happen to be near you when you’re listening to your country music.

People also seem, more and more, to get misinformation confused with facts. Most people would agree that the sky is blue and grass is green. Not many would argue such a ridiculous notion that the sky is purple and grass is orange. The truth can be easily proved, if one actually wanted to spend the time doing so, by a comparison of scientifically-accepted color charts, or paint swatches, or crayons.

Presenting science to someone like that often ends with them stating, “Well, that’s my opinion.”

No, it’s not. An opinion would be, “I like it when the sky is that shade of blue.” Stating that grass is orange is not an opinion. It’s just wrong, provably incorrect, and holding on to that “opinion” only makes you appear stupid.

Science has served us well in the past. When was the last time you heard of someone coming down with polio? Measles? Mumps? Smallpox? Whooping cough? These diseases went away because of vaccinations.

Now, suddenly, Americans with zero training in the sciences, after spending a little time Googling a topic, or listening to an “authority” on talk radio, consider themselves expert enough to determine that vaccinations cause autism, or that the earth is flat, or that vaccination mandates are unconstitutional.

I always find it fascinating how seemingly intelligent people can be so damn dumb!

Not just fascinating, though. It’s also embarrassing, because others see that and assume that all Americans are like that. And they would have a point, considering how many actually are.

It’s because of this prevailing mindset that America was on so many countries’ no-fly lists for so long. For a while, our move to Europe was hanging in the balance because of this. (It still is, but at least it’s for different reasons now.)

And watch out if you happen to disagree with their “opinion.” People are so quick to attack commenters on social media, calling them idiots (or worse) before they even understand what the commenter is talking about, and often proving themselves the idiot in the process. People can’t have a difference of opinion, or even an honest misunderstanding of facts, without being criticized in the most hateful and derisive fashion.

Somebody in a Portugal expat group on Facebook wrote that differences of opinion exist there, as they do everywhere. The difference is that “political issues aren’t weaponized.”

I’m looking forward to being able to leave verbal battles behind, and actually engage in intelligent and respectful conversations again.