Psychological Mechanism

“I had interactions with friends on social media early on, and I had thought that I could reassure them that evidence suggested their children would be OK. Not only did they not believe me, it seemed they didn’t want to believe me. They had been watching 24-hour cable news, reading The New York Times, and listening to NPR. What I was saying sounded absolutely nothing like what they were seeing, hearing, and reading. I had run into a wall of cognitive dissonance impossible to overcome.”

I used to be so naive. In the summer of 2020, when I read a mountain of literature and learned that COVID wasn’t dangerous to kids, I was so happy. I tried telling everybody I knew. Great news! The kids aren’t in danger! The relief!

But I had the same experience as the quoted author. People acted like they were unhappy about the news. They pouted, they got weirdly aggressive. Like they didn’t want it to be true. I still don’t understand it. I’m a crazy, traumatized mother. I flip out over every minor scratch and bump my kid has. It was such a relief not to have to worry she’d get COVID. I almost cried with relief. But I was alone with my joy.

There’s clearly a psychological mechanism at work here but I can’t figure it out.

13 thoughts on “Psychological Mechanism

  1. If you’re surrounded by official-sounding sources that say otherwise, why would you believe this one odd person telling you something different? The mental scenery has a lot to do with your outlook!

    I’ve used this in a positive way: a lot of years ago, when I needed to lose 35 pounds and get my blood sugar/insulin levels under control, I couldn’t just tell myself “I have to do this because this is good for me”. It wasn’t enough. So I would go and read Mark’s Daily Apple every single day, and I listened to every single Robb Wolf podcast, and since those didn’t come out daily, I found other adjacent sources to fill in, so that every day, I was reading three or four articles and listening to about an hour of audio, all reinforcing the diet and exercise program I’d already settled on. I basically brainwashed myself. It worked, too–for a little while there, low-carb, paleo, etc. was my religion. And the results were good!

    I think a lot of people use CNN and Facebook kind of the same way… but less consciously. And the medium is pretty toxic. So the results are kind of scary.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Indeed there is WAY too much covid propaganda in certain liberal circles. It’s extremely hard to overcome. Most educated upper middle class people I know trust authority too much and have zero critical thinking skills (much as they like to think they do).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They don’t want to think critically. Where I live it’s like almost this unspoken conspiracy. You have to read New York Times, vote for Democrats, clap to clap to whatever nonsense Fauci says, take whatever many boosters they tell you, all so that of smug people are not offended by your presence.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. From an 1898 book on logic, where Carveth Read explains how people become irrationally attached to beliefs that scare them: :

    “On the other hand, belief is caused by many influences that are not evidence at all: such are (1) desire, which makes us believe in whatever serves our purpose; fear and suspicion, which (paradoxically) make us believe in whatever seems dangerous;”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Answer me this:

    Let’s say you woke up living in a dystopia where children were killed daily by the government according to a lottery each and every day.

    Tell me when you would stop caring or being too concerned that the lottery was being held:

    Lottery A 50% chance of your child being killed that day ie 1 in 2.
    Lottery B 5% chance ie 1 in 20.
    Lottery C 0.5% chance ie 1 in 200
    Lottery D 0.05% chance ie 1 in 2 000
    Lottery E 0.005% chance ie 1 in 20 000
    Lottery F 0.0005% chance ie 1 in 200 000
    Lottery G 0.00005% chance ie 1 in 2 000 000
    Lottery H 0.000005% chance ie 1 in 20 000 000
    Lottery I 0.0000005% chance ie 1 in 200 000 000
    Lottery J 0.00000005% chance ie 1 in 2 000 000 000
    Lottery K 0.000000005% chance ie 1 in 200 000 000 000

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      1. No big deal 🙂 I was just going to make a point about how people reason, and then make a separate point in another post about people who are subjected to repeated trauma and 3rd party interpretation of/reasoning about that trauma. What happens is that they take up the thinking patterns/interpretation/reasoning of the third party and stop being able to reason for themselves.

        I’m not sure if that is exactly why the people you were posting about think as they do, but it might be, and is interesting to think about anyway.

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    1. But we are already living in a dystopia where children are being killed daily in a procedure that is fully sanctioned by the government. Except it is not a lottery system, as their parents are freely bringing them to their demise and are even being cheered on for their bravery by many. Based on the data from 2018 in the US, the chance is approximately 14%, i.e., 1 in 7 for children who are not born yet. Of course, essentially no one cares since these children were not granted the personhood and are not wanted by their parents. So, as long as it is not a personal concern, people do not care about living in a dystopia.

      Regarding your original question, I suspect an average person stops caring somewhere around the lottery E-G.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s in-grouping versus out-grouping.

    The people in the survival group (remember us?) are totally OK with out-grouping because going along to get along generally is not seen as a workable survival strategy over long periods.

    Confronting small problems before they become big problems is very much seen as a workable survival strategy, and so “face saving” and creating lies about current conditions goes against preparing for actual conditions.

    This has all been a very interesting sorting mechanism for survival-minded people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @ Post Alley Crackpot
      Clarification, please! What are you getting at? I get the drift of what you are saying but the exact details escape me. Care to make your comment less cryptic? Thank you.

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  6. I’m so old that I can remember when HIV/AIDS first became a public health threat, and we were told repeatedly and emphatically that every one of us was at risk of contracting it. People were terrified, especially since there was no effective treatment at that time and a diagnosis amounted to a death sentence. Eventually it became known that we were not all equally at risk, and that in fact most us were not at risk at all. This should have been good news, but many people refused to believe it. Apparently they were disappointed, even offended, that a virus would have the effrontery to discriminate against an already-marginalized minority.

    Now for whatever reason, some folks are downright disappointed that covid is not an equal-opportunity killer. Many people stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the good news that healthy children are not in danger from it, and that for upwards of 99% of us under the age of eighty, the risk of death from covid is negligible — on a par with the risk that I could die in a car accident on my way to the grocery store. I could, of course, but the risk is too miniscule to keep me at home (where I might be struck by a meteor anyway).

    Liked by 1 person

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