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Author Topic: watching the public reactions to the pandemic  (Read 106 times)

dyany

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watching the public reactions to the pandemic
« on: August 06, 2020, 09:48:39 pm »
So, I study people. People en masse more than individually, and not a formal study (though I would TOTALLY do that if I had the funding). And this has been an interesting time for people watching.

One of the fascinating (and sad) things to me is the various forms and stages of denial. Here's some of the many I've seen, which have morphed over time as new information has come forward:
  • "Why are the experts and leaders freaking out? It's just a sickness in another country!"(the 'nothing that bad can happen to us' erroneous thinking)
  • "This is so overblown! The flu kills more people!" (wild ignorance of statistics and R0 transmission rates coupled with an cocky 'I know better than the experts' attitude)
  • "The numbers are bad, but they are being falsely inflated for money." (still the "the reality of a bad disease is less acceptable than the idea of a vast conspiracy" error)
  • "My cousin had it and it wasn't so bad. The news is overdramatizing the situation." (relying on anecdotes rather than facts and conflating a standard news tactic with false information)
  • "well at this point I'm pretty sure I'll get it eventually, and it probably won't hurt me so bad, so what's the point of trying to stop the inevitable?" (ignoring the many more people who will die with this approach and being ignorant to the increasing evidence of a significant portion of survivors having debilitating long-term effects from the disease)
  • "oh look there's a secret conspiracy to take our freedom (because wearing a mask is just like being tortured and imprisoned ::) )/control us through fear/keep the treatments from us." (Um, this is just stupid. Exactly WHO is profiting from this, and how in the crap could they have orchestrated this sort of thing? Answer: that's not what matters. People would rather believe there is a secret conspiracy because a) that's less scary than a less controllable natural force and b) it makes the idiots feel smart because they 'figured it out' and are 'wise to the conspiracy.')
  • "the top epidemiologists in the world say X, but this person on youtube wearing a lab coat says Y, so how am I supposed to know what's real?" (laziness in learning how to think critically disguised as being presented with 2 equally valid options)
  • "the experts said A at the beginning of the pandemic and now they are saying B, so they are obviously waffling and just making things up and don't know what they are talking about." (ignorance as to the scientific process and mistaking 'making corrections' for 'complete ignorance.'

I mean, most of these have to do with deep-seated fears and knee-jerk reactions to big, scary things. But just like most 'natural reactions,' we need to practice taming them and keeping them in check. Feelings aren't bad, but we can practice keeping them bridled and in check.
 
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Jen

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Re: watching the public reactions to the pandemic
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2020, 10:12:56 pm »
I was just pontificating to my husband the other day that it's really weird that the human race hasn't evolved beyond this incredible ability to live in denial to protect our psyches. You wouldn't see a rabbit sitting in a field, looking at a predator, saying, "Yeah, that's not really a coyote. Well, he's a little coyote. Probably vegetarian. He doesn't even see me anyway. I'm far away and small, he won't come after me..." The rabbit runs. Why do we have this tendency to tell ourselves stories to make us feel better about things?
 
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dyany

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Re: watching the public reactions to the pandemic
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2020, 01:06:47 am »
I honestly believe that it's an evolutionary thing. Like, processing information--and that includes new processes--takes more attention and brain power. Our brains (which already consume more glucose than any other organ) are already taxed filtering out the millions of bits of irrelevant data and further processing the bits deemed more relevant or important. That's why we have memory and why we are pattern seekers. Recognizing patterns helps us predict and 'load' responses, which is both protective and more energy efficient.
However, just like our affinity for sweet and salty tastes became counter-productive when those foods became so easily isolated and available, the affinity for seeking familiar patterns has become detrimental in its tendency to turn our brains off and defend the familiar status quo.
 
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