Comments

  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I think it's reasonable, yes. Ultimately inaccurate, but reasonable.Xtrix

    To be honest we could leave it there. I've no interest in convincing anyone of the rightness of my beliefs on this, but there may be some interest in exploring our differences further. It's not that I'm unconcerned about being wrong, only that I'm fortunate enough to be in a position to speak directly with experts in the field (through work and ex colleagues), so any concerns I have would be explored there, not on an internet forum. I don't doubt your mastery of the resources you've examined, it's just that's not the sort of conversation I'm interested in having here. That said, however...

    it turns out we're in the same field.Xtrix

    ...so I'd be interested in your insights from this perspective (being directly what I'm currently working on) and an alternative perspective is never wasted. Turns out psychologists agree about as often as philosophers (which is to say hardly at all). What would you expect to be the most significant long-term impacts on decision-making heuristics from this crisis? Do you think we'll see he unprecedented 'disillusionment' stage (Raphael - if you're not already familiar) of disaster recovery that some are predicting?

    So let's restrict the argument only to companies or organizations that mandate vaccines (1) for individuals without acquired immunity and (2) without offering testing/precautions as an alternative. This seems to be the issue.Xtrix

    Agreed.

    This then becomes an issue about (a) whether these alternatives, on their own (without vaccines), are as safe and effective at slowing the spread of the virus as (b) the vaccines are, either on their own or in combination with the masks/distancing/testing.Xtrix

    Here I disagree, and I think this is a shift we've seen in risk assessment rhetoric in public discourse with this crisis. We don't normally require that every lower risk strategy be adopted purely on the grounds that it lower in risk. Normal risk assessment heuristics are to compare remaining risks to a (often imagined, rather than calculated) threshold of risk which we deem it unacceptable to breach. It's how we handle the conflict between autonomy of ends and the rights of other affected by choice of means. It shouldn't matter if someone rejects the vaccine because they don't like the colour of the vial, so long as in doing so the risk they pose others is below a threshold of risk we consider acceptable for trivial personal preference. The less trivial that preference, the greater the threshold has to be to justify any mandate. Without this important feature of risk assessment, we end up with a homogeneity of response, which is a) an unnecessary and possibly damaging imposition on freedom, and b) simply bad risk management in the face of uncertainty.

    For mandates (in the restricted cases we've already circumscribed) to be acceptable, they'd have to be both more safe and effective than the alternatives and be so to such an extent that the increased risk from not taking them exceeded this normal threshold.

    The trouble is that this threshold is a psychological feature, not a strict number. It's not easy to directly compare. Analysts have come up with models based on population testing, figures such as 1 in a million per event and 1 in 5000 lifetime risk are typically used, but much higher figures are usually found in personal assessment (ie we expect our governments to me more risk averse than we expect ourselves to be, even with the well-being of others around us).

    I don't think there's an easy solution to this, but I think we'd be reckless to ignore the potential psychological impact of imposing a risk threshold for personal behaviour that people felt was much lower than that they have previously been using. It's one of the reasons why ordinary adult vaccine mandates are a very different concern from childhood vaccine mandates (where there's very little chance they'll have acquired any strong sense of acceptable risk), or specific mandates such as travel or healthcare (where assessment of risk thresholds is typically relinquished to a higher authority for the specific activity). Mandating a specific risk threshold for ordinary life activities (such as one's normal job) that's seen as far outside a person's normal risk threshold is potentially extremely damaging.

    I'd like to separate the issue of children for the time being, as it's true there's not as much data on this as yet. I, as of yet, haven't read carefully or widely enough to have a strong opinion. If it turns out the risks of vaccinating children outweigh the benefits, then so be it.Xtrix

    Fair enough, but bear in mind that the issue of children does affect the issue of adults quite significantly. If it ere shown that the risk/benefit calculation for a 16 year old was not sufficiently above the normal threshold to recommend the vaccine, then it is at least borderline for a 17 year old. It's not like something magical happens on one's 17th birthday which completely changes ow one responds to both virus and vaccine. Now how do we justify imposing extreme coercive measures on that 17 year old (threat of unemployment), if they know that the risk/benefit judgement for them is barely above that which has been assessed as insufficient?

    The significance of the decision regarding children is not only about that age group. It has two very important consequences on people's psychology.

    1. It shows that the risk/benefit assessment is sufficiently finely balanced that some ordinary groups (not obscure medical exceptions) fall the other side. That automatically makes people think "well what if I'm more like the average 16 year old than the average 25 year old?", and that's not even an irrational thought - as I said above, physiology is just not that age specific in this respect.

    2. It shows that unforeseen consequences are being considered and so reminds people of them. The vaccines (in terms of known consequences) are perfectly safe for children - where 'safe' here means low risk. It's not the known safety that's a problem for the JCVI, it's the fact that the benefit is insufficient to justify the unknown risk.

    So for the 25, or even 30 year old worker being coerced into taking a vaccine, they have in mind, not only that they might not even be on the right side of a normal risk benefit assessment (they might be physiologically more like the 16 year old), but they are reminded that the reason why we don't normally give prophylactic medicine 'on the off chance' is because of the unknown risk, thus rendering reassurances of current safety fairly redundant.

    The natural immunity issue is relevant for a different reason. The more irrational the imposition, the more people become frightened of it (and not without good reason). The moment someone raises natural immunity and institutions say "nah, we'll just vaccinate everyone" the apparent irrationality of that decision makes people more resistant. It the considered the main mechanism behind mandates backfiring in the past. "why would they be so insistent on vaccinating me when they haven't even checked if I need it and they actively don't want to even find out?"

    There's a serious underestimation of the psychological impact of saying to people "we're going to inject you with this drug, we don't even want to know if you need it or not, some people are better off not having it, but we 'reckon' you're probably not one of them based on your age - even though age is just a proxy for other metrics which we're also to going to bother checking. Oh and you'll loose your job if you don't". Think about it from an average Joe's point of view. It sounds extremely like they really just want to get the drug in his arm more than any other objective. Add that to a (again, completely justified) distrust of government and pharmaceutical companies - the two institutions involved here, both with a track record of lying, and putting the public a serious risk, for financial gain... Well, you've a recipe for serious discontent which weighs very heavily against the potential benefits.

    I understand the sentiment but does this claim undermine the safety of the vaccines? I assume you think not, so I don't see the relevance....Xtrix

    See above basically. It's not really about undermining the safety because it's an unknown.It's about there being a reason to avoid it (unknown risk), but obvious alternatives not being considered. That just changes the trust relationship immediately, it sets up a institutional appearance of an alternate agenda, and that's just counterproductive and potentially very dangerous (if it stops people who need to take the vaccine from doing so).

    In summary, we're facing an unprecedented health crisis, we really need people to take the advice of their healthcare professionals, take the precautions necessary. To achieve this people have to trust those institutions and believe the advice is in their best interests. People are not blank slates onto which we can just impose beliefs convenient to us, they have prior beliefs which need to be accommodated. Governments and pharmaceutical companies have behaved appallingly in the past. Ignoring alternatives and vilifying experts who disagree with policy exacerbates existing suspicions, and risks a serious breakdown of the relationship essential to public health.

    Basically, there's limits to what you can push people to accept and we'd be better off staying within those limits and accepting a small increase in risk as a result, than trying to push them and so doing taking a much larger risk from the breakdown of that relationship.
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    So no intention of either defending, nor apologising for your slanderous baseless assertions. Just more childish hyperbole.
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    Let's be clear about what's happened here.

    I've cited an article about the policy response to covid by an expert in health policy.

    You didn't agree with it, so rather than mounting any actual counter argument, you quickly trawled a few previous posts for anything you can use to discredit him. (Despite apparently missing the fact that he's a well respected contributor to the world's top health journals on exactly this topic).

    The irony being that's exactly the kind of response he was writing about...brilliant stuff.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    The guy knows shit about it, he is an oncologist.Olivier5

    He is a cancer drug and health policy researcher. He also studies the financial conflicts in drug approvals.

    Oh and he's Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics

    From his fucking Wikipedia page. I thought you'd done all this diligent fucking background research on him.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    What is unfair I think, would be to share a political cartoon as if it was the informed opinion of a specialist of the field being discussed. This is what you are doing with Prasad's cartoonish views.Olivier5

    Again, if you think you know better than the editors of most of the world's leading health journals then you're more megalomaniacal than I suspected.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I'm sure his academic articles on oncologyOlivier5

    I'm not talking about his articles on oncology. I'm talking about his articles on the covid response. Something you'd know if you'd been following the academic debate in the slightest.

    I never gagged anyone.Olivier5

    don't spread the unhelpful anti-science rhetoric of folks with an easily discernable political bias and no qualification in immunology. Thank you very much.Olivier5


    I don't peddle the personal political opinions of some random folksOlivier5

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/607436 - opinion piece from the Washington post.

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/591819 - cartoon

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/607061

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/598711

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/603582 - reposting a NYT opinion piece

    nor any version of immunologyOlivier5

    No one but you has even mentioned immunology... this is about epistemic responsibility, as befitting a

    philosophy forum...Olivier5
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    Actually, forget that, this is just utter bullshit.

    Vinay Prasad has written for the BMJ, the Lancet, Stat, Medscape, Oxford University, Nature and has been cited several hundred times in all of those plus more. If you seriously think you're a better judge of what should and should not be part of reasonable discourse than the editors of all those academic journals then you're even more messianic than I thought.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Which is a ridiculous, totally fake idea about modern science.Olivier5

    Opinion/fact. We're going to need that diagram after all.

    He doesn't fit the "no conflict of interest" criteria, period.Olivier5

    OK, I'll bare in mind next time you cite anyone how strict a threshold you have for conflict of interest. We'll see how long that holds out.

    Scientists can comment all they want on politicsOlivier5

    Good, because you were gagging them earlier, we're making progress it seems.

    in his case his statements show a strong political bias towards the rightOlivier5

    An example?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    That is what I am saying too: it was anti-science rhetoric.Olivier5

    We've been through this too. Rhetorically lamenting that there are "few scientists left" was meant as a wake up call to defend science before it got lost in petty posturing. You think it's anti-science, others don't. Opinion/fact. Would you like me to draw you a diagram?

    He is mentioning his books in a lot of his posts... :-)Olivier5

    Try disqualifiying any public commentator who doesn't do that, we'll see how much public discussion of science is left.

    Saying that Covid is the end of progressivism is not an overt political statement?Olivier5

    Again, if that's your standard for 'politicised' then you're basically saying scientists can't comment on government or economic issues without being subsequently banned from being quoted.

    But this is getting into our usual ridiculous hyperbole. He said something you don't agree with so you want him silenced. We get it.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Prasad concludes that "sadly, there are few scientists left". Words have a meaning, Isaac. I for one think there are many scientists left. Do you think otherwise?Olivier5

    We've been through this. It was rhetorical.

    I am saying rather that you are spreading the anti-science rhetoric of a heavily politicized pundit about CovidOlivier5

    I know what you're saying. 'Anti-science' and 'highly politicised' are both opinions of yours. That you can't tell the difference between an opinion and a fact is a root cause of your confusion here.

    But you didn't do so, probably because you trusted him enough.Olivier5

    Why would you think I hadn't read his blog? Where the fuck do you think I got the citation from? I've read Vinay's commentary since the beginning of this crisis. I've found him to be generally balanced and reasonable. You think he's politicised. I'm just dumbfounded that you can be so egotistical that you think the only reason why I don't agree with your assessment is that I haven't read his writing. It's off the charts in terms of self-righteousness. That you genuinely can't even conceive of someone having read his blog and not reaching the same conclusion you did, like alternatives to your view aren't even possible.

    In short, what are your standards?Olivier5

    As I said to @Xtrix

    evidence should come from suitably qualified experts in the appropriate field who have no discoverable conflict of interest or pre-existing bias directly favouring one resultIsaac

    Prasad meets that criteria.

    He's talking about the way science is being discussed - he's scientist himself so he's qualified to speak about scientific discourse.

    He's not paid by anyone, no one benefits financially from what he's saying, he's not pushing a product and he's not employed by someone who benefits from what he's saying. So he meets the lack of conflicts of interest criteria.

    He's not religiously or ideologically wedded to opposing drugs (he's an oncologist) , or vaccines, or government. He's made no previous overt political statements. So he meets the lack of pre-existing bias threshold too.

    What criteria do you have that he fails on?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I am saying that ANTI-SCIENCE RHETORIC IS NOT HELPFUL.Olivier5

    You're clearly not. You're saying that anti-science rhetoric is not helpful and that Vinay Prasad's article is an example of it. It's the latter claim that's at issue, for me, not the former.

    Repeating only the uncontroversial part of a two part claim and then acting incredulous that anyone should argue the full claim on that basis is a well known psychological trick. No one here is stupid enough to fall for it.

    All I'm saying is you shouldn't use stupid psychological tricks in a serious philosophy discussion...
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    It's mainly about discourse outside of scientific outletsOlivier5

    I've just shown it isn't.

    it's about what to do against covidOlivier5

    It isn't. He doesn't make a single medical recommendation.

    you HAVE spread the unhelpful anti-science rhetoric of a person with an easily discernable political bias.Olivier5

    So you're saying I should only post things according to whether you think they're anti-science and whether you think the person has a political bias. Why would I do that?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    All I am saying is: don't spread the unhelpful anti-science rhetoric of folks with an easily discernable political biasOlivier5

    I haven't.

    ...and no qualification in immunologyOlivier5

    What's a qualification in immunology got to do with a discussion about discourse in science?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    they are not about 'actual scientific debate', most of the times.Olivier5

    Then you must have missed

    After that, I got a series of warnings from professional contacts and others, asking me if I had aligned with Donald Trump

    there is a lot of anger, and a lot of the scientific discourse has become very acrimonious and even personal… It’s beginning to feel like open discussion is being stifled

    The covid-19 pandemic has accentuated an erosion in civility in academic discourse...in professional media — literally the first fucking line

    Lenzer and Brownlee were in turn personally criticised after their essay was published, not merely on social media, but more importantly in communications to organizations to which they belong and publications for which they had previously written

    Words have a meaning.Olivier5

    What?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Indeed, it's rhetoric. But it is a type of rhetoric that undermines public trust in science.Olivier5

    Or one which seeks to shore it up by calling out practices which undermine it. Depending on your perspective. You know...perspective...the thing people used to be allowed to have differences in without being labelled murderers or mentally ill.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    To say that there are knee-jerk reactions on twitter or in the press about certain opinions published by scientistsOlivier5

    Oh and the articles I presented are not about knee-jerk reactions on twitter and the press. They are about actual scientific debate... but you'd have to have actually read them to find that out, and that seems too much to ask here.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Even a polemist such as yourself should keep a sense of proportion. To say that there are knee-jerk reactions on twitter or in the press about certain opinions published by scientists, is quite different from saying: "sadly, there are few scientists left".Olivier5

    It's rhetoric, moron. Like

    Yes. In fact spreading manufactured doubt in such a time is criminal. It kills people, and I dare say our good friend Isaac here is close to murder.

    Of course it makes for more interesting conversations. I guess Russian roulette is more interesting than casino roulette too. Spices up the game...
    Olivier5

    ...or do you actually intend to report me to the police for attempted murder?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    ,

    Same true of Stephen Baral, associate professor in epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University then https://www.newstatesman.com/uncategorized/2020/10/why-scientists-fear-toxic-covid-19-debate

    Also Raj Bhopal, emeritus professor of public health and Alasdair Munro, senior clinical research fellow in paediatric infectious diseases https://www.bmj.com/content/372/bmj.n742

    Jerome R Hoffman, Professor of Medicine Emeritus, UCLA School of Medicine and Iona Heath Past President, UK Royal College of General Practitioners Jerome R Hoffman is Professor of Medicine Emeritus, UCLA School of Medicine https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/03/22/an-open-plea-for-dignity-and-respect-in-science/

    Or as we've established...anyone who disagrees with you.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I looked Mr Prasad up. His blog is poorly written, full of platitudes, and, yeah, paranoid.Olivier5

    Yes, I think we've already quite well established that anyone you disagree with is 'paranoid'.
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    Also, on the subject of bias, there's an interesting piece by Vinay Prasad in Medpage on this, form the 'other side'

    The first crux of the public communication failure is to ask why, when we hear of a novel adverse event, is the reaction of so many experts to downplay or trivialize the risk? Why construct minimizing memes when you have not even gathered all the relevant facts? ...Either one must embrace all vaccines for all indications for all ages, or one can be lumped with the other extreme. They favor universal child vaccination of SARS-CoV-2 via an EUA, even before they have the data for that claim. They were quick to embrace vaccination for pregnant woman prior to appropriate trials establishing safety. Suppressing critical thinking to extol vaccines is also wrong
    ...science means being able to say that mRNA vaccines are terrific; their benefit to Americans in massive. The J&J vaccine also has an important role, but that role is uncertain in women under 65, and for that subgroup the EUA may still be rescinded. A true scientist navigates these troubled waters and does not take reflexive extremes. Sadly, there are few scientists left.
    https://www.medpagetoday.com/infectiousdisease/covid19vaccine/92413
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    even if his argument is a good one, that he represents a minority view. Do you agree? If so, my question to you is: why highlight the minority view -- or, better: why is his view more convincing than the majority's/consensus? Assuming it's split down the middle, and there's good evidence on either side -- which is plausible -- do you have any insight into why you would gravitate towards this interpretation more than the other?Xtrix

    I'm going to answer this question first as it will colour the responses to the others I goes back to what i said earlier about my arguments being in the form of "It is reasonable to believe...", not of the form "You ought to believe...". It doesn't matter if he's in a minority. He's an expert in an appropriate field who has no discoverable conflict of interest (I've checked), and has no pre-existing bias (he's worked to advance vaccine take-up in the past). That makes reliance on his testimony sufficient. To be convincing to others, I'd need more. But that's not the aim here.

    So to your actual question about why. I answered this in the Coronavirus thread (again, I mention this just t avoid the post hoc justification narrative). It's twofold. Firstly, in matters relating to the pharmaceutical industry majorities are often not indicative of true scientific consensus. Recall...

    85% of vaccine clinical trials are sponsored by vaccine manufacturers and non-industry trials are over four times more likely to report negative or mixed findings than industry-sponsored trials — Manzoli L, Flacco ME, D’Addario M, et al. Non-publication and delayed publication of randomized trials on vaccines: survey. BMJ2014

    ...and...

    industry-sponsored economic evaluation of vaccination scored worse in methodological appropriateness than a comparable non-industry evaluation — Beutels P. Potential conflicts of interest in vaccine economics research: a commentary with a case study of pneumococcal conjugate vaccination. Vaccine2004

    ...and further...

    a principal investigator of HPV vaccine trials for Merck and GlaxoSmithKline agreed that “It seemed very odd to be mandating something for which 95 percent of infections never amount to anything” Further, a recent review showed that design problems in the HPV vaccine trials, most of which were led by academics but sponsored by industry, made it difficult to evaluate the extent to which the vaccine prevented cervical cancer — as above

    I have what I believe to be good reason to be suspicious of the weight of opinion in favour of a pharmaceutical product. There is a well documented history of influence of the pharmaceutical industry over academics in the field of medical sciences. Whilst I don't believe this would ever be enough to create some kind of 'conspiracy of silence', it is definitely enough to treat any apparent consensus with suspicion.

    Secondly, I have a personal bias against artificiality. I eat organic food, I use cleaning products from plant sources etc. It's a personal preference. Again, related to my "It is reasonable to believe..." type of argument, it doesn't matter that this is nothing more than a personal preference. If it's reasonable to hold it, in the light of evidence from suitably qualified experts in the appropriate field who have no discoverable conflict of interest or pre-existing bias directly favouring one result then it's acceptable. It's not the main point I want to discuss though because I think the point about the untrustworthiness of the pharmaceutical industry is both sufficient and more relevant to a public forum. I mention it for the sake of honesty only.

    Your other questions...

    when you say reasonable alternatives exist, what are you referring to?Xtrix

    Natural immunity (testing for), full hygiene precautions (masks, distancing, hand-washing), regular testing (coupled with a willingness to isolate in the case of a positive test), and natural existing immune systems (for those who are healthier than average - only to be combined with the previous two).

    when taking into account the benefits, are you including the benefits to others as well, or just to the individual (for example, the "young/healthy" individual)?Xtrix

    Yes. In fact, for me I only include benefits to other because I have no cause to be concerned about my own health. We're talking here about the strength of evidence for reducing transmission, and the benefits (in terms of taking up hospital beds) in those who are already healthy.

    when referring to examples of pharmaceutical companies hiding safety information, etc., are you referring specifically to COVID vaccines or other products?Xtrix

    Both. There's more evidence of hiding safety information in other products (obviously, it takes time to find these things out), but there's evidence with the Covid vaccines too, for example...

    Pfizer’s 92-page report didn’t mention the 3410 “suspected covid-19” cases. Nor did its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nor did any of the reports on Moderna’s vaccine. The only source that appears to have reported it is FDA’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine. — Pfizer’s 92-page report didn’t mention the 3410 “suspected covid-19” cases. Nor did its publication in the New England Journal of Medicine. Nor did any of the reports on Moderna’s vaccine. The only source that appears to have reported it is FDA’s review of Pfizer’s vaccine.

    Data from the biodistribution studies submitted by Moderna and Pfizer suggests that the vaccines distribute widely in the body, including to the liver, brain, heart, lung, adrenals, ovaries, and testes, among many other tissues. However these were not studies of the currently authorized products: Pfizer’s BNT162b2, Moderna’s mRNA-1273, or Janssen’s Ad26.COV2.S.34–36 Instead of presenting novel biodistribution studies of the COVID-19 vaccine formulations, sponsors presented substitute studies to FDA for an EUA during the pandemic. 34–36

    All attention has focused on the dramatic efficacy results: Pfizer reported 170 PCR confirmed covid-19 cases, split 8 to 162 between vaccine and placebo groups. But these numbers were dwarfed by a category of disease called “suspected covid-19”—those with symptomatic covid-19 that were not PCR confirmed. According to FDA’s report on Pfizer’s vaccine, there were “3410 total cases of suspected, but unconfirmed covid-19 in the overall study population, 1594 occurred in the vaccine group vs. 1816 in the placebo group.”
    With 20 times more suspected than confirmed cases, this category of disease cannot be ignored simply because there was no positive PCR test result. Indeed this makes it all the more urgent to understand. A rough estimate of vaccine efficacy against developing covid-19 symptoms, with or without a positive PCR test result, would be a relative risk reduction of 19%

    I say all of this in anticipation. I would expect your evidence to demonstrate either (a) or (b).Xtrix

    For (a) and (b) - most articles combine the two...

    https://medium.com/@wpegden/weighing-myocarditis-cases-acip-failed-to-balance-the-harms-vs-benefits-of-2nd-doses-d7d6b3df7cfb

    I believe the ACIP failed to model the risk benefits properly, and such a view is supported by suitably qualified experts in the appropriate field who have no discoverable conflict of interest or pre-existing bias directly favouring one result.

    For adults, the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination are enormous, while for children, they are relatively minor. Rare side effects from adult COVID-19 vaccination are unlikely to lead to future vaccine hesitancy whose public health impact could be comparable to the benefits of the adult COVID-19 vaccination program itself. But accelerated mass child vaccination under EUA — perhaps even spurred by school mandates and “vaccine passports” — presents a different balance of risks and benefits. Rare adverse events really could prove to be the most durable public health legacy of an EUA for child COVID-19 vaccines.https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/05/07/covid-vaccines-for-children-should-not-get-emergency-use-authorization/

    Given all these considerations, the assertion that vaccinating children against SARS-CoV-2 will protect adults remains hypothetical.  Even if we were to assume this protection does exist, the number of children that would need to be vaccinated to protect just one adult from a bout of severe covid-19—considering the low transmission rates, the high proportion of children already being post-covid, and most adults being vaccinated or post-covid—would be extraordinarily high. Moreover, this number would likely compare unfavourably to the number of children that would be harmed, including for rare serious events.https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2021/07/13/covid-19-vaccines-for-children-hypothetical-benefits-to-adults-do-not-outweigh-risks-to-children/

    what of the millions who have no yet had COVID?Xtrix

    As I said above, alternatives are not limited to acquired immunity.

    But please link to the BMJ too.Xtrix

    Sure - https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n2101

    I believe you have agreed with this, which is why the rest is a bit puzzling to me.Xtrix

    See - the debate about children; the debate about long-term risks ("practically nothing is known about any long-term adverse effects..." - Professor Ruediger von Kries, of Germany's advisory vaccine committee), and the debate about trusting the pharmaceutical industry going forward (the GlaxoSmithKline contamination scandal)

    The alternative solution, in this case, is natural immunity -- which one must contract COVID in order to obtain.

    This assumes (1) that getting COVID is less risky for the individual than taking the vaccine
    Xtrix

    Not necessarily. I don't see any ethical obligation for people to always take the least risk option, it's not how we normally conduct a mixed society. We normally allow people to take all sorts of low risks for their personal preference. What matters is not the balance, but whether any resulting imbalance is sufficiently high to outweigh personal preference.

    ...and (2) that there aren't external factors to consider, including the spread.Xtrix

    Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, who said it was 'absolutely inevitable' new variants that can escape the protection of the vaccine will emerge in the future.
    Prof Pollard told the APPG that herd immunity is 'not a possibility' with the current Delta variant.
    He referred to the idea as 'mythical' and warned that a vaccine programme should not be built around the idea of achieving it.
    He predicted that the next thing may be 'a variant which is perhaps even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations', adding that that was 'even more of a reason not to be making a vaccine programme around herd immunity'.

    With kids, they’re not going to stop transmission, they won’t stop escape variants, nothing is. It is about the risk to the child themselves. Vaccine escape is inevitable and I think that it adds to the argument not to have a blanket rollout of the vaccine to children aged 12-15 because I think that will minimise that. — Dr Ruchi Sinha - All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus

    This last quote indicates that full vaccine roll-out may even lengthen the spread rather than hinder it.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    The analogy wasn't strictly about bias and motives, really, but about why people end up saying the things they do and interpreting the evidence the way they do.Xtrix

    Is that not covered under 'motive'. I'm still a little confused as to the distinction you're trying to make here. If I were to believe that the last right-wing government were responsible for the economic crisis, that would be something I might believe because of bias (I'm left-wing), but it's also plausible (many economists think so) so my bias isn't really relevant unless I dismiss a source ("Oh he's a conservative so his evidence doesn't count"). If, however, I was a UFO enthusiast and as such believed that the economic crisis was caused by the interference of aliens, then my bias would matter. No economist is saying that, I'd be stepping outside of reasonable conversation and shouldn't expect to be taken seriously.

    True. But this can be claimed about nearly any dialogue whatsoever, no?Xtrix

    Yes. And this is crucially important. If you take only one thing away from my response, I'd prefer it was this. When I present an argument here I'm not doing so with the intention that it convinces you. Any argument I present is of the form "It is reasonable to believe...", not of the form "You ought to believe...". It's a significantly weaker claim and it means the above quote is not problematic for us. The debate we're having (the one I'm having, anyway) is about whether my beliefs meet the threshold required of reasonableness. It is not about how convincing they are. I'll come back to this as it answers another of your questions later on.

    I believe every word of it, and suspected something like that -- although I had assumed more the sciences than English.Xtrix

    Just to clarify (not that it matters, but I don't want to cause confusion later) I'm a professor of Psychology, not English. English is my nationality (put in so you know whose rules and regulations I'm talking about). Of course whether Psychology is one of the sciences is a matter of much debate!

    I'm more than willing.Xtrix

    That would be good, but we'll save it for if it's needed.

    With this issue, it's similar to claims about a stolen election. Do you make the same argument there, as well?Xtrix

    No, because I don't accept your premise. Recall the caveat about your say so being insufficient? I don't want to get mired in stuff we've left behind, but this is why I brought up the stuff about creationist geology professors. I have a standard for inclusion in reasonable academic discussion and if you don't share that standard, then, again, we just can't have such a discussion. That standard is that - evidence should come from suitably qualified experts in the appropriate field who have no discoverable conflict of interest or pre-existing bias directly favouring one result. I realise there's some ambiguity there over 'discoverable' (after how much effort?) and 'directly' (we can create all sorts of super-detailed ideologies), but I don't think these ambiguities are a problem in most cases. Climate denying scientists are paid by the oil industry who benefit directly from underplaying the crisis - clear cut case of conflict of interest. Analysts saying that the election was stolen are all Trump employees or staunch supporters, everyone else is saying it wasn't (including other republicans). Clear cut case of conflict of interest.

    The scientists arguing against what I'm going to term vaccine-enthusiasm (the idea that every person without medical exemption ought to have a full vaccine+booster round) have no such obvious, discoverable conflicts of interest. They have no financial incentive, they don't gain any political advantage, they are not paid to say what they say, they have, mostly, spoken vociferously in favour of vaccinations in other cases, so don't have any historical bias. In short they are not even an ambiguous case, as far as my standards are concerned. All the other examples you've given are clear cut cases of conflict of interest (usually money), or pre-existing bias (usually religion). Neither exist for the experts I'm citing so the analogy fails.
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    I like your thinking. The UK education system has given us some true geniuses, therefore I must be a true genius (being a product of the UK education system).

    Oh but hang on...the UK education system has given us some absolute idiots too...

    ...gosh, it's almost as if shallow clichés aren't sufficient for making real world judgements in complex situations.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Nothing said here alters my view in the slightest. The development and launch of the COVID-19 vaccines is a triumph of science and public medicineWayfarer

    Nothing said here is intended to alter that view.

    Is it normal for you to consider "I'm not convinced by the arguments" sufficient ground to label those making them "unbearably sinister"? Do you determine all views you're not personally convinced of to be malignant? If not, then you being personally unconvinced is not really reasonable justification for such rhetoric, is it?

    It seems a common theme here. You're the third person who's used this slanderous language to describe those who disagree with you and then, when pushed for justification, fall back on something utterly inadequate like "I'm not convinced by the argument", or "I just get the feeling..."

    If this is the standard of public discourse you think is acceptable, then I suggest Twitter rather than a serious philosophical forum.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    mandates are legitimate. They "check out" when you look at the decision more closely, follow the logic, listen to the experts, and check their evidence -- at least it does for me. It's very convincing to me, and so far from what you've written, I'm simply not persuaded otherwise. I have problems not with your conclusion only, which you accuse me of, but your assumptions, your logic, the references you've cited, and your interpretation of the evidence. I think you're making several mistakes.Xtrix

    Right. But this isn't about what you personally find convincing. I'm quite happy for you to hold the views you hold. I think you're wrong, but your views have clearly been informed by expert opinion, they meet the threshold I expect of reasonable people. The issue here is your dismissal of views which conflict with your own using these completely unnecessary and unhelpful accusations of political bias, weak-mindedness, ideology etc. If you have genuine issues with my "assumptions... logic... references ...and ...interpretation of the evidence" then argue those points. There should be no additional need for any of this weak speculation about the underlying motives of people you've never met and know barely anything about. If I've made mistakes in the areas above, then pointing out those mistakes is sufficient counter-argument.

    I've offered analogies to help flush out where I think you're making errors. I think the comparison to creationists is a good one -- not because I think you're being almost completely irrational the way they are, but because it's an example we can both agree on, and which my hope was would allow you to see some mistakes I thought you were making.Xtrix

    Your analogies with creationists were about bias and motives. You said I'd made mistakes in "assumptions... logic... references ...and ...interpretation of the evidence". These should not require analogies. They can simply be written as they are. But I'll note again here - the presentation of counter evidence, counter logic, counter assumptions, and counter references does not prove you're right and I'm wrong. It proves your position is also well referenced, logically sound and rests on reasonable assumptions. The matter of choosing between them is not resolved simply by you pointing out that it is possible to rationally arrive at your position.

    Let me get more to the matter at hand and hopefully start anew:Xtrix

    I'm happy to listen to what you have, but I can't (won't) argue against a position I don't hold, nor follow the script for some drama you want to play out against an imaginary enemy. You have to argue with me, not some fantasy version of me. I'm not a MAGA cap-wearing American, I'm not a Facebook junkie hooked on Mercola feeds, I'm not a middle-class suburbanite more concerned about the opinion of my yoga class than of experts in the field... I'm a semi-retired English professor of Psychology, I've twenty years experience in research (specialising in the structure of belief), I now consult for a risk analyst firm a large part of which is (of course) dealing with the long term fallout from covid. I don't read the news, I don't have any social media accounts, I don't have a television. I get my news from the journals I subscribe to (BMJ and Lancet, in health matters) plus a few blogs from experts I trust and colleagues at work (all experts in their field). If you don't believe any of that because it doesn't fit with your stereotype of someone with my views then we'll just stop there.

    If not we can continue, but I expect an evidence-based discussion, I'm not interested in taking a poll of your opinions. "You're wrong" is an insufficient response, as is a repeat of the claim originally made. You saying something is never evidence of it's veracity in any circumstances here. If you say...

    they "check out" when you look at the decision more closely, follow the logic, listen to the experts, and check their evidenceXtrix

    I expect to see the names of those experts, quotes from them, links to the studies constituting the evidence and, if you're claiming they're in the vast majority, some evidence of numbers. It's inadequate for you to simply say it's the case.

    Again, If you're not interested in meeting this standard, we can just end the conversation here, that's fine with me.

    Your questions...

    What exactly is your objection to it, fundamentally?Xtrix

    Twofold. Firstly it's an unnecessary risk. The risk in this case is; the known side effects of the vaccine in those groups for whom the benefit is also very small (young, healthy people), the unknown long term side effects in other groups and, more importantly at this stage, the potential for the manufacturers to make mistakes/shortcuts in their manufacturing or testing procedures. It's unnecssary because reasonable alternatives exist.

    As evidence of the risk/benefit balance to young healthy people I've cited the UK JCVI adjudication to that effect. As evidence that experts do consider the long-term risks to be an issue, I've cited a professor of epidemiology who sits on Germany's vaccine advisory board saying exactly that. As an example of the risk pharmaceutical companies present I cited the recent whistle-blowing at the GLaxoSmithKline factory in PuertoRico, I've also cited several examples of other pharmaceutical companies hiding safety information, lying about result and marketing medicines despite their unsuitability. If you'd like me to repeat this evidence, just ask.

    Secondly, impositions on people's bodily autonomy cannot be taken lightly, they need substantial reasons and there is insufficient need when alternatives are available.

    I've cited medical ethicists explaining this position (about alternatives needing to be exhausted) and how they feel this hasn't yet been done. As evidence that alternatives still exist, I've previously cited an article from the BMJ expanding on the view that natural immunity should be an alternative to vaccination. Regular testing is also a possible solution which I've cited experts on.

    I'm not repeating any of my citations now because I'm not playing into the narrative that I'm only now scrabbling about for evidence. I've cited all this previously, I've consistently supported my position with relevant evidence from experts in the appropriate field. But I'll repeat it if you need it repeated.

    Should a state never be allowed to mandate anything? Should a state be allowed to create laws and to enforce those laws?Xtrix

    Obviously a state can mandate and make laws. They need to be proportionate to the risk and lack alternative solutions. As detailed above. I don't believe that's the case with mandatory vaccination. That belief is not only based on, but is also shared by relevant experts in the field. That, by my definition, makes it a reasonable belief to hold. I also think that believing mandates are necessary is a reasonable position to hold because that position too is well supported by relevant experts in the field.

    What makes a law "just" or legitimate?Xtrix

    That it affects all people fairly, that it is aimed at a state of affairs which we could imagine a rational person from any position in society wanting to achieve.

    What is the purpose of a state or a government, in your view?Xtrix

    Quite a big question don't you think? As concisely as I can (with the obvious concomitant overlooking of nuance), government, for me, should be in the business of influencing the factors which govern our economic and social interactions in order to bring about a state of affairs that any rational person from any part of that society would want brought about via means which allow for as much autonomy of the members of that society as possible.

    I also pointed to evidence of this: the level of resistance is correlated with "redder" counties (those that went increasingly strongly for Donald Trump). Do you assume that's an accident or coincidence? I don't.Xtrix

    No, it is the result of the politicisation of the issue. Politicisation affects both sides. Vaccine 'enthusiasm' is associated with the 'bluer' states. So does that prove that people are only enthusiastic about vaccines because of their political ideology? Any time you point to a correlation between ideas and political affiliation, you point to exactly the opposite association of the counter-idea with the counter-politics. That leaves us with no ideas deriving from anything other than political ideology. We can either leave it there, or we could assume that the overall picture hides a more interesting minority who can support their ideas in greater depth, but if we're making this assumption, then there's no reason to consider it a feature of one side only. I've no interest at all in Mercola, Trump or any other media darling and their views. I've also no interest in the self-avowed warrior-of-truth who thinks they can wield 'scientific consensus' as flag to signal their noble lack of bias. It's just as naive (even if considerably less harmful).
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    You should not take it as an accusation, it's more a warning, in the sense that your mind is not totally gone yet I think. You can still pull it together if you try. It's also a way to flag to other posters that there might be some mental toxicity involved there, in case they haven't noticed already.Olivier5

    OK, then you should hold back on the (whatever you're talking about above) unless you can back it up with more than just idle speculation. For God's sake, since when did it become OK to start publicly speculating about the mental health of random people you've never met just because they disagree with you? Is this really what we've come to? It's just sickening.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Well, so sorry I didn't manage to convince you then.Olivier5

    You're under no obligation to convince me. The obligation is to support a claim like "crazy paranoid shit", with something of more substance than your idle speculations. I honestly can't believe I'm having to spell this out to a grown adult. If you can't support the claim with more than just your 'gut feeling' then perhaps hold back on the accusations of mental illness.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Paranoids are very hard to convince of their own paranoia, as you must know. In fact it is most of times impossible to do so.Olivier5

    What a fantastically self-immunised argument. You suggest I'm paranoid, I resist such an accusation and you declare "there, see, paranoid people are notoriously resistant to being convinced of it. Case closed".

    Pathetic.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    That is not true. You genuinely could not understand at first the very simple idea of rewarding pharmaceuticals for their good work on vaccines. And that's because in your mind they are inherently evil.Olivier5

    OK, so in your world I think we ought to just steal the vaccines from the pharmaceutical companies because they're evil. But I've not said that. You just think that's the case, from the way I responded.

    So...you offer, as proof that my posts are "crazy paranoid shit", that you think they are.

    So I guess we're back to the beginning. Anyone who doesn't agree with you must be crazy...just 'cos.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    My question is: why did the idea seem so counterintuitive to you at first? Why did you initially (and during many posts) reject this very simple idea, that even the pharmaceuticals need incentives to do the right thing?Olivier5

    I just answered that. It's because I was trying to read into it some relevance to the question. If I ask why my posts are crazy paranoid shit I don't immediately expect someone to start talking about the basics of market economics.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    So what was so hard to understand then? What were all these "WTF" and other expressions of disbelief for, in the past dozen posts since I introduced this now seemingly agreeable idea? Why did it take you so much time to get your head around it?Olivier5

    Because the question was why my posts were

    disgusting, creepy paranoid shit — Olivier5Isaac

    I couldn't see (and still can't) what the fuck the fact that we ought to pay for the vaccines we use has got to do with answering that question.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I’m talking about— and have been from the beginning — the United States.Xtrix

    Why?

    I'm asking you how you justify dismissing contrary opinion with you psychological be, and you said

    Your views are enough.Xtrix

    So why are you talking only about the US when the question is about your justification for psychologizing your opponents. You argued that it was justified because they'd had a history of vaccine mandates and were only now kicking up a fuss, thus proving they were politicised. The relevant fact there is whether your opponents have had a history of vaccine mandates and are only now kicking up a fuss. Not you.

    CDC said just what I said: the technology has been around for decades. I’ll quote them again— from your source:Xtrix

    Your quote does not say "the technology has been around for decades" and I cited several experts explaining why not. Citations you completely ignored.

    The vaccines are safe and effective.Xtrix

    No one is arguing that.

    Mandates are completely legal and justifiedXtrix

    The entire UK government and a large number of medical ethicists disagree, who again I cited and again you completely ignored.

    But the balance of opinion is not the topic here. It's your suggestion that disagreement is so outrageous that only the politically motivated would pretend to hold such views. It's egotistical on a monumental scale to hold that your personal opinion is so right that dissent can only be seen as a Machiavellian political move.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    If we make use of their vaccines, we have to pay them for it, thus rewarding the good work done and incentivizing the future production of safe and effective vaccines. That's agreed then?Olivier5

    Yes. So...

    So where have I suggested we shouldn't make use of the vaccine?Isaac

    Recall, I'm asking you to explain why what I've posted counts as...

    disgusting, creepy paranoid shitOlivier5

    ...you're explaining why we have to pay companies for their products... the link being?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I am saying that not using an effective vaccine would be irrational, counterproductive and perverse both in long term and short term.Olivier5

    Right? So where have I suggested we shouldn't make use of the vaccine?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I didn't say that anyone rejecting it is crazy,Olivier5

    To be clear...

    I asked

    why you think my view 'paranoid'. — Isaac


    You said

    Because of its essentialist and absolutist angles. — Olivier5


    Then explained that...

    a non-absolutist (ie relativist) and non-essentialist (ie pragmatic, result-oriented) view of dishonest behaviors within pharmaceuticals would be to say something like this: "pharmaceuticals can do bad things (eg lobby for a dangerous drug) and good things (eg develop safe and effective vaccines). We should try and discourage them to do the former by using the law to its fullest extent against them when they do bad things, and also encourage them to do the latter, by purchasing their vaccines when they are safe and effective. — Olivier5


    So anyone who disagrees that pharmaceutical companies should be rewarded for making vaccines (a type of product they actually chose to make anyway) by purchasing their vaccines, is absolutist and essentialist and therefore paranoid.

    We're not discussing economic strategy here. We're discussing your dismissal of alternative perspectives as paranoid and crazy.
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    Since the vaccines are effective, it is in our short-term interest to buy them anyway. Long-term, it incentivizes pharmaceutical to produce more safe and effective vaccines in the future.

    If on the other hand we say: "these people are inherently evil, hence we should not buy their safe and effective vaccines, or only buy as few of them as we possibly can", we shoot ourselves in the foot by depriving ourselves of these effective and safe vaccines, and by giving pharmaceuticals no incentives to produce more safe and effective vaccines in the future. So this would be perverse.
    Olivier5

    This is not about which strategy you advocate and why. It's about you being so utterly unable to see another perspective that you're prepared to claim anyone who disagrees with you must be mentally ill. Can you seriously not see anything wrong with that?
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    To be clear...

    I asked

    why you think my view 'paranoid'.Isaac

    You said

    Because of its essentialist and absolutist angles.Olivier5

    Then explained that...

    a non-absolutist (ie relativist) and non-essentialist (ie pragmatic, result-oriented) view of dishonest behaviors within pharmaceuticals would be to say something like this: "pharmaceuticals can do bad things (eg lobby for a dangerous drug) and good things (eg develop safe and effective vaccines). We should try and discourage them to do the former by using the law to its fullest extent against them when they do bad things, and also encourage them to do the latter, by purchasing their vaccines when they are safe and effective.Olivier5

    So anyone who disagrees that pharmaceutical companies should be rewarded for making vaccines (a type of product they actually chose to make anyway) by purchasing their vaccines, is absolutist and essentialist and therefore paranoid.

    This is not about balance. It's about claiming someone who doesn't agree with a very specific economic strategy you happen to prefer must be mentally ill
  • Epistemic Responsibility
    I said they should be rewarded for doing the right thing.Olivier5

    Possibly. So how do you get from there to 'anyone who disagrees with this strategy must be suffering from some mental illness'?
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    So what's special about pharmaceutical companies that you think it's a sensible policy for them when for the rest of the population the threat of criminal prosecution is considered enough. Why do you advocate treating these corporations more favourably?
  • Epistemic Responsibility


    So can you give me an example from outside of the corporate world where we reward people financially for not committing crimes?