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But, Science



Lies have consequences, sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising. The federal government's refusal to accept the safety of cannabis had consequences. It is hard for some to accept medical advice from a government that allows fortunes to be made from alcohol and tobacco while condemning cannabis. I feel certain that this has contributed to the anti-vax movement and to climate science denial. It probably played a role in John Hardin's thinking, as expressed in his recent letter to the Journal (Mailbox, April 15).

The federal government has been demonstrably wrong about many things, and demonstrably cruel about many things. That does not mean that it is always wrong, or always cruel; it just means that we must never assume something is true simply because it is what the government says.

Vaccinations work. Childhood vaccinations have eliminated vast suffering. The evidence of how well COVID-19 vaccinations work is already clear and published in medical journals. I am always suspicious of governments but to believe that the vast majority of doctors, nurses and researchers are all part of a conspiracy to vaccinate people for no good reason seems to me to be a road too far — way, way too far.

It is infuriating to watch politicians lie and get away with it. It is equally infuriating to see people, as a result, go to bozos with cable shows or web sites for "the real truth." Given the weight of scientific opinion versus a couple of people who disagree, sure, the weight of scientific opinion may on occasion turn out to be wrong. But if you have to place your bets, mainstream scientific opinion will usually turn out to be correct, or at least more correct than the opinion of a couple of dissenters.

Mitch Trachtenberg, Trinidad


In NJC's April 8 article on California's vaccine skeptics, "Carrots, Sticks and Jabs," California Assemblymember Jim Wood suggested: Identify major barriers, educate, provide information and reassurance, and contact people with the most influence. 

Good ideas! But even if these steps are well-targeted and well-communicated, Mr. Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California said a January of 2021 poll showed 24 percent still "reluctant" to get the vaccine. He also says political affiliation (Democrat vs Republican) is a "striking and unmoving" predictor of vaccine resistance, with 26 percent of California Republicans saying they "definitely" would not get vaccinated. 

This suggests using carefully chosen media outlets for (1) short outreach ads (no speeches) featuring well-known Republicans (politicians, entertainers, newscasters) with a theme like "do this for yourself and for the country you love," (2) recruiting media and media personalities known to be popular with Republican viewers to do the same thing, (3) calling on ex-President Trump (who got vaccinated) to urge Republicans to get vaccinated in the name of freedom (and privately reminding Trump this will save the lives of people likely to vote for him), and (4) recruiting famous TV or internet personalities (whether Republican or Democrat) who aren't already vaccinated to — in full view — get vaccinated, testify in popular media how easy and painless it was, and urge others to "join in what is — like World Wars I and II — a fight by everyone to save their country and way of life." 

Also, before creating this program of communication, consult psychologists and media experts on what messages, media and deliverers of messages get the most attention and credibility, in terms of this kind of decision. 

Last, I assume other well-done polls have identified other ethnic, racial or economic groups also with significant pockets of vaccine resistance, so apply the same approach to them.

Jeff Knapp, Arcata

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