You’re struggling to understand why some people are vaccine hesitant. The “let me help you” megathread: Imagine you’re a normal person. The year is 2016. Rightly or wrongly, you believe most of what you see in the media.

Aug 2, 2021 · 1:04 PM UTC

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You believe polls are broadly reflective of public opinion. You believe doctors and scientists are trustworthy and independent. You’re a decent, reasonable person who follows the rules and trusts authority.
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Imagine your shock then, when Brexit, which you were assured won’t happen because it’s a fringe movement led by racists for racists, happens. The polls, which widely predicted it wouldn’t happen were completely wrong.
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The experts and media pundits who told you it wouldn’t happen day after day are also wrong. “Oh well” you say, “these things happen”. Imagine that soon after Donald Trump is running for President. You are told by your favourite media publications that he is going to lose.
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Some experts say his opponent has a 99% chance of winning. independent.co.uk/news/world… Imagine waking up on the morning after the election to discover that pollsters, media experts and politicians you still trusted were wrong again.
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And now, the racist monster they told you would never get near the White House is the leader of the free world. “How did this happen?” you ask yourself? How could all the people in charge of informing me be so wrong? “It was the Russians,” they tell you.
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“The Russians did Brexit and they got Trump elected too”. Imagine that for the next 3.5 years you watch as the media and the political class run with the Russia collusion narrative. They tell you the how, when and where.
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The dossiers, the whistle-blowers, the peeing prostitutes. Imagine your desperation for things to make sense again. The Muller Report is coming and it will set your world straight.
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Evidence of foreign meddling in the 2016 election and Brexit is coming to save your unsettled mind. Imagine your shock then, when you discover that Brexit and Trump had little to do with foreign meddling. The screaming about Russians and Brexit dies down as well.
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Imagine that bit by bit, you discover that events which the media and political class told you would not and could not happen not only happened, but happened without some sort of evil interference. Instead, millions of your fellow citizens voted for them.
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Again, you ask “How could this happen?” and again the media has the answer: racism. “Your country is racist”, they tell you. If you’re white, this seems strange to you. Other than a handful of idiots, you’ve never met a racist.
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If you’re an ethnic minority immigrant like me, this seems even stranger. Why would people in one of the most welcoming, tolerant countries in the world want to convince themselves their country is racist when it’s so obviously not?
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But the evidence is right there on your TV screen. Imagine your horror as a gay black actor is assaulted by MAGA hat-wearing thugs who racially abuse him and put a noose around his neck. He cries while talking about it: ytb.trom.tf/watch?v=pXLx5OY2…
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Imagine your outrage as you see news reports of a bunch of MAGA hat-wearing kids from a religious school contemptuously confront a native America elder. Reza Aslan tells you the kid has a “punchable face” and while you abhor violence, it’s hard to disagree.
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Imagine that for days you watch coverage of these events, with expert after expert, pundit after pundit, sharing and fuelling your outrage about them. With every word, your belief that you are a good person and that your country is a good country wavers.
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Imagine that soon after, however, the Jussie Smollett story turns out to be an attention-seeking hoax. Imagine that you quickly discover that the native American elder was the one who confronted the kids and not the other way around. washingtontimes.com/news/202…
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“If this is such a racist country,” you ask yourself… “why would they need to make up stories of racism?” As you ponder this, you remember that for years now, you’ve been expected to go along with other make-believe.
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You’re expected to believe that whether you’re male or female is not as simple as you once thought. Whatever you learned about biology at school is wrong. You no longer know how many genders there are and it seems dangerous to try to find out.
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Imagine reading that the experts at the American Psychological Association say that traditional masculinity is “pathological and harmful”. theatlantic.com/health/archi…
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Imagine that you still want to believe the media and their experts, but now that requires you to think your country is racist, men are bad and gender is a social construct, whatever that means. It is at this point that a pandemic emerges on the other side of the world.
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You are initially unconcerned, but as scenes emerge from Italy and other countries, it is clear that something big is happening. You watch nervously as politicians give press conference after press conference, flanked by experts, to explain the situation.
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The racist Donald Trump shuts down travel from China. In response, the mayor of Florence advises citizens to fight racism by “hugging a Chinese person”. in.news.yahoo.com/italy-laun…
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Shortly after, Nancy Pelosi, a respected Democrat visits Chinatown in San Francisco to explain “there's no reason tourists or locals should be staying away from the area because of coronavirus concerns.”
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“Nonsense,” you think to yourself as you wonder how best to protect yourself and your family from this deadly disease. You consider getting masks – you’ve seen visitors from Asian countries wear them.
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But the UK’s Chief Medical Officer tells you not to wear a mask and wash your hands instead. independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho… As lockdowns are introduced around the world, you diligently follow all the rules. You stay at home, only go out once and live off savings or government grants.
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You are proud to be doing your part. Thanks to you and millions of your fellow citizens the first wave of the pandemic does not overwhelm the healthcare system. While thousands sadly die, you’ve helped to protect the NHS.
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Imagine your confusion as the same people who have spent 3 months telling you masks don’t work and you shouldn’t wear them introduce mask mandates. We’re “following the science” they tell you. This makes little sense but a pandemic is no time for questions.
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As you cautiously go to the supermarket, you notice that masks have made people far less likely to socially distance.
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You remember reading somewhere that bicycle helmets work similarly: they give the wearer more confidence and the result is more accidents and injuries, not fewer. “Silly people,” you say to yourself. “If only they would follow government advice”.
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You turn on your TV to learn that shoppers at your local supermarket aren’t the only ones who have been ignoring the rules.
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