MINOT, N.D. — Of the many things that afflict our society in these deeply divided times is the decline in empiricism.
From self-serving politicians to political pundits to the keyboard warriors of social media, the average American is swamped in competing narratives on a daily basis. It can be difficult to see through that miasma to the world as it is, and not as some politico would have you believe it is.
Take the debate over vaccines.
Empiricism tells us they are safe and work to mitigate the risk of COVID-19. If you are vaccinated, you're less likely to get sick, and if you do get sick, you're less likely to become severely ill and die.
The politicians and the pundits and the Facebook demagogues, citing misleading data and various medical quackery, would have you ignore what is plainly true and eschew vaccination.
Yet here, too, empiricism serves us well. We need only observe what is happening to the unvaccinated to conclude that they're wrong.
The data tells us that the unvaccinated are 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the vaccinated, which is remarkable. Americans with fragile health, including the elderly and those suffering from serious comorbidities, got the vaccine first. Those vulnerable make up a disproportionate number of the vaccinated. Yet, still, the vaccinated survival rates for COVID are far better than for the unvaccinated.
But there are also the anecdotes. In August, I wrote about seven anti-vaccine talk radio hosts who died from COVID-19. We have local examples anti-vax figures falling prey to the virus as well.
Rep. Jeff Hoverson, a Republican from Minot and member of the Bastiat Caucus, had to miss an anti-vaccine rally he helped organize because he came down with COVID-19. He's attending to his duties as a lawmaker at the special session remotely, though he's also missed a significant amount of time while seeking treatment for COVID-19.
Another activist involved with that rally is Charles Tuttle of Minot. He also couldn't attend. As I write this, he is hospitalized with COVID-19, and, per a recent Facebook livestream, is using some of the breaths he now struggles to rip from the air to curse me as an atheistic god-hater who is going to hell, in no small part because of my rejection of anti-vaccine kookery.
I hope Tuttle and Hoverson recover, but we can't ignore the irony in their contracting a disease they could have been far better protected from if they dropped their opposition to vaccination.
Hundreds of millions of people have received the COVID-19 vaccinations. We can see that those people are better protected from COVID-19. That's not a lie. That's not some political fable told to affect some outcome desired by those telling it.
It's a fact.
Trust empiricism, my friends. Trust your eyes. Stop listening to the politicos.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.