Natural Selection Aimed at the Stupid
Anti-Vaxxers Exist in a Brain Fog That is Killing Them
By Meredith F. Small
There are myriad reasons why some people in the United States have not received the Covid-19 vaccine — issues with access, time off work, no childcare, unfounded fear that authorities might deport illegal immigrants, or a member of a group, such as Africa-Americans, who have historically, and today, been treated badly by the government and the health care system. Fair enough for all these anti-vaxxers.
But there’s another group, the people who are unabashedly embracing misinformation about the virus and its effects and rejecting any type of mitigation or protection, even denying that Covid-19 is real or deadly. They are also drawn to dangerous alternative treatments such as the toxic horse de-wormer Ivermectin and the other equally useless alternative Hydroxychloroquine. This group also refuses to do something as simple as wear a mask, often working themselves up into a public lather and screaming that they won’t do anything at all to protect themselves and others from this deadly contagion.
These are the people that the vaccinated now hate, and ridicule, because their non-compliance is keeping the rest of us indoors, masked, and socially distanced. A wave of scorn leveled at the anti-vaxxers has been unleashed, but mostly in private because it seems so judgy and mean. Even the nicest people in the world are saying behind closed doors: “These anti-vaxxers just plain stupid.” I have also been whispering to my closest friends, but only my closest friends, that the Delta variant is Natural Selection pointed at the stupid. Everyone I’ve said it to agrees, but we keep it to ourselves because that observation is so snarky.
But no more, because this month a group of epidemiologists and psychologists from University College London, The University of Edinburgh, and the University of Southampton in the U.K., have recently validated that those who refuse the vaccine are not so bright.
Using data from a long-term survey about British society, they focused on the part of the survey that asked people if they would get vaccinated when the Astra Zeneca vaccine became available in Great Britain in 2021. The researchers also had access to various cognitive function tests the participants had completed in 2011–2012. These tests evaluate just about everything that makes up our ability to think clearly and operate in a complex world — judgment, memory, planning, and learning new things. It’s hard to say if someone’s score on those tests reflects some genetic heritage, developmental trauma, or inadequate education. Low scores also can indicate a change from a former self because of mental deterioration from dementia or brain injury. In sum, high scores suggest a person is mentally functional while low scores mean that person does not think clearly. They are “cognitively impaired,” or to put it bluntly, stupid.
Out of a database of 11,740 people, 17.2% (or 1,842) said they were hesitant about accepting the new vaccine and this group had significantly lower cognitive function scores regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, mental health, or physical health. Having an education helped somewhat to mitigate the decision of some with low cognitive scores to accept the vaccine, but only slightly, suggesting an education can only go so far with the cognitively impaired. As the researchers put it, “There was a linear association for vaccine hesitancy across the full range of cognition scores (p for trend: p < 0.0001).” The lower the score, that is, the more cognitively dysfunctional, the more likely someone was to reject the vaccine. And the three zeros before the one is about as close as you can get to a one-to-one direct linear correlation between cognitive function and being hesitant, or not, about the life-saving vaccine.
Overall, mortality from Covid-19 has disproportionally struck those with low cognitive function scores, and now that is getting even worse because these same people can’t understand, and therefore fear, the vaccine. In brave, academic-ese authors also state that social media has complicated decision-making with all their idiotic misinformation and lies which has, in turn, put the cognitively dysfunctional into a vulnerable position because they aren’t capable of systematically or logically evaluating anything. Therefore, as the researchers put it, there is an “additional disease burden,” for these mentally sub-capacitated souls.
This study justifies calling the wave of Delta that is disproportionally hitting the unvaccinated so hard a move by Natural Selection to take out the stupid, but it also puts a more charitable spin on that view. Instead of dismissing these people as idiots and rejoicing in the fact that they are getting ill and dying, we could have an attitude of kindness and understanding. You don’t scream at someone in a wheelchair for not walking and so why name-call these people who are making a decision with less than adequate brainpower? We also have to accept that some people who seem normal on the outside can’t take in new information, can’t sort through or seek out answers, and are unable to change their minds. They exist in this brain fog through no fault of their own. Furthermore, the anti-vaxxers are scared because they don’t understand anything, and they can’t. It must be intimidating and embarrassing if someone realizes they are confused, even baffled, by information that makes sense to those who have embraced the vaccine because they have greater powers of understanding. Threats, anger, rage, protest, stubbornness, and screaming seem like reasonable responses from them. When we speak among ourselves about how stupid these people are, we are correct, but it’s not their fault so maybe we should feel pity rather than disdain.
And yet, those with lower mental cognition are putting us all in danger. These anti-vaxxers can’t quite grasp, nor do they care, that they are also spreading the disease, thereby perpetuating the pandemic, allowing for more mutant variants, and killing those around them, as well as themselves. Because of this self-destructive, nihilistic attitude, they have made everyone else at risk and they are prolonging the pandemic which will kill even more people.
Maybe for that alone, we’ve earned the right to sometimes call them stupid.