AIER likens anti-"lockdown" cranks to abolitionists. Hilarity ensues - 2020-10-29

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F0.png AIER likens anti-"lockdown" cranks to abolitionists. Hilarity ensues October 29, 2020, Orac, Respectful Insolence

I've commented multiple times on how much COVID-19 pandemic denialists, those who deny the efficacy of masks and other public health matters to slow the spread of coronavirus, who try to downplay or deny the harm caused by the pandemic (particularly by claiming that the virus is not that deadly), and in general engage in conspiracy theories about this being a "plandemic" or an excuse to impose "forced vaccination," resemble the antivaccine movement. Indeed, it's no surprise that one of the very earliest conspiracy theories about COVID-19 dates back to January, when the pandemic was still mostly confined to China and had not yet made its presence known in the US (although it was already here), was the claim that China had purchased more influenza vaccine than usual and the flu vaccine had made the people of Wuhan more susceptible to the novel coronavirus. By May antivaxxers were prominent attendees at antimask and anti-lockdown protests, having already launched a preemptive disinformation campaign against any coronavirus vaccine that might be developed, and now they routinely show up at such events, along with QAnon believers. The reason, of course, is that, at its heart, antivaccine beliefs are rooted in conspiracy theories, producing a natural affinity between COVID-19 cranks and antivaxxers. There are many other characteristics antivaxxers share with COVID-19 cranks, one of which is a persecution complex. This brings me to today's topic, this doozy of an article by Stacey Rudin of the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) likening "resistance" to public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 to abolitionists before the Civil War:

AIER, of course, is the right wing, climate science-denying, free market fundamentalist propaganda house disguised as a "think tank" behind the Great Barrington Declaration, a "declaration" that it spearheaded urging, in essence, letting COVID-19 spread through the population in order to achieve "herd immunity" with "focused protection" of those most vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19, such as nursing home residents, the elderly, and the like. The long version of why it's nonsense is here. The Cliffs Note version follows. Basically, as epidemiologists pointed out, it's impossible to protect the "vulnerable" if COVID-19 is spreading unchecked through the rest of the population. Moreover, for there to be herd immunity, there must be immunity after infection. Although there does appear to be immunity as a result of COVID-19 infection in most people, we don't know how long it lasts. It could well be fairly brief, as in months, as opposed to many years. That would mean that waning immunity would make those who recovered from COVID-19 susceptible again. It would particularly make one suggestion in the Great Barrington Declaration, that nursing homes be staffed only with those who've recovered from COVID-19, utterly ridiculous, given that many of them could well become vulnerable again within months. Again, we just don't know yet. Finally, the whole "Great Barrington Declaration" was obviously propaganda more than science, given that, as a tactic, it closely resembled previous "petitions," open letters, and "declarations" from science denialists as varied as creationists, HIV/AIDS deniers, and climate science deniers, who particularly love this technique of "magnified minority" to give the false appearance of scientific legitimacy to their views by posting a statement and having lots of scientists sign it, regardless of whether they actually have relevant expertise in the science being opined on or not.

Of course, antivaxxers like to view themselves in similar terms. Of course, Rudin and AIER, by likening themselves to abolitionists, are also likening those who support science-based public health interventions against COVID-19 to pro-slavery advocates and, by extension, those same interventions to slavery. In this AIER and other COVID-19 deniers are following a path well trod by the antivaccine movement, which has, as long as I've been able to remember, likened "forced vaccination" to all manner of evils, including slavery (including its modern variant, human trafficking), the Holocaust, rape, pedophilia (don't ask), Nazi-ism, and…oh, I can't keep listing them, at least not here.

Wikipedia cite:
{{cite news | author = Orac | title = AIER likens anti-"lockdown" cranks to abolitionists. Hilarity ensues | url = | work = Respectful Insolence | date = October 29, 2020 | accessdate = October 18, 2021 }}