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The Anti-Sciencers

Why are certain members of the Far Right media so committed to trying to convince people not to get vaccinated? Tucker Carlson, from clips I have seen, is constantly casting doubt on the president and the scientists who keep urging people to get the vaccine shots. I don’t think that Carlson actually says, “Don’t take it.” He is too slippery for that, and he has lawyers. So he says, ‘There is a lot about the vaccines that we don’t know,’ and “We know that Biden wants everybody to get the vaccines,” as he looks up as if to say, “What is behind that?” Sean Hannity says that he is really not sure if he will get the vaccines, he just doesn’t know, there is so much conflicting information.

Now, are they that stupid? Well, in general, yes, but probably not on this issue. Trump got vaccinated, and hid that fact. Why is that? What is the goal here? If I had to guess, I would say that Carlson and Hannity have both gotten vaccinated, just like all the Radical Right Republicans in Congress. But they don’t want their followers to know that.

The Republican Party has become an anti-science party. They want their followers to reject any scientific theories or findings. Maybe this started with evolutionary theory, which most of them rejected at the outset, as was evidenced in the Scopes Trial in 1925. They essentially lost that battle, but never gave up. They saw evolution as a theory which rejected their interpretation of the Bible; and as something which a bunch of pointy-headed Northern liberals were trying to jam down their throats. They have fought back to the extent that some schools are now required to teach religious belief in the same books that discuss evolution, as equally valid explanations of natural history. This encroachment continues in several states, where a textbook, when setting out a scientific theory, is required to juxtapose it with a religious explanation.

It was the precursor of this “both sides” nonsense. Some people believe the earth is round, but some believe it is flat. The scientists believe that smoking is very dangerous, but the tobacco people say that it is not all that bad. Every credible medical professional in the country says that people must wear masks, and get vaccinated, but the hosts on Fox and OANN say that this just their opinion; and many Republican governors say that people should do what they like regarding masks, there will be no mandate, that would be a limitation on their freedom. Whatever you say, they say the opposite. Sometimes I think it is just for spite, part of this “owning the libs” battle cry.

And some of this is just disdain for everyone who knows more than they do. They won’t let any scientists or professors or doctors tell them how to live their lives. They have been fearful for decades about government telling them what to do, although the irony is that their side is trying to create a fascist state which has permanent control, and makes it impossible for there to be free elections. But they don’t see that, because their idea of freedom is that it means that no one can tell them anything about what to do, but they can tell everyone else.

So it’s a combination of things. Fear that science is going to take away that old-time religion. Fear that medical science, which they don’t understand, and don’t care to, is made up of people who are going to mandate that they wear masks, or get vaccinated, or wear seat belts, or not smoke. General hatred for everyone who acts like they know more than they themselves do, who talk in big words, and use graphs and charts. And then a psychological need to stand out, by not being part of the general majority. If they get vaccinated, then somehow it means that their side lost, that they are giving in. So they are proud to not wear masks, and carry their signs around, and get on TV, as if they are the Sons of Liberty standing up against the monarchy. It makes them feel special.

And the Republican leaders, and the propaganda machines which they use, need a voting bloc which is proudly uneducated and unknowledgeable. Trump obviously never wanted people to know that he got vaccinated, because they would see it as a betrayal of “their side.” And they need “their side,’ a group, or you could call it, a large cult, which stands together, will never relent, never cede an iota of ground on anything, no matter what the facts or consequences. They hide the science, they misrepresent it, they search for a few renegade scientists like Scott Atlas to propound ridiculous theories to combat 99% of the scientists, and they put them in positions where they can fight the tide of information.

And as they risk becoming an electoral minority, they need to hold the line, and pander to the illiterates, or those who love to act out, or gain a sense of power from being contrary. Because they know that if those people believe that they are being abandoned, they will furiously, and maybe even violently, turn against them, too. So they are “all-in,” as the poker term goes, they are “pot-committed.” They have already pushed their chips in, and they are locked into a general position which they cannot possibly move away from, either strategically, or intellectually.