Health Psychology

Acknowledging Emotions in a Pandemic

We mostly make our choices based on emotions… and then, after we’ve decided, we find a way to justify those decisions rationally.

It’s a secret that marketers and politicians have long known.

We like to think we are making rational decisions. We like to believe we are making our own choices without being emotionally manipulated. But it’s seldom true.

That is why, when it comes to debates around vaccination, appeals to reason are seldom effective.

Culture Health

Thoughts on Vaccination and Tribal Debates

Some thoughts on the Pro/Anti-vaccination debate/tribes:

  1. I wish it was a debate, but sadly what I see is people on both sides posting stuff that shames/dismisses the concerns of the other. This achieves nothing except to reinforce egoic pride in the righteousness of our positions. It certainly has no chance of changing the perspectives of people who think differently and is more likely to further cement them in their own positions.
  2. The stakes are very high! (Rather like Climate Change) and this means we tend to operate from emotions of fear and anger more than compassion and reason. We need to be aware of this and take responsibility for managing our emotions.
  3. Each side has legitimate concerns and truths. I don’t mean that every point is true or valid, or that each side’s overall position is equally valid. But I do believe that whatever side we fall on we can learn important perspectives from the other, and we should be open to listening to find that truth, rather than hearing with an intention to demolish and dismiss the other’s arguments.
  4. I believe there are people with hidden manipulative agendas on both sides (bad actors). These are people who are not interested in the truth but want to wage narrative warfare (propaganda) to advance a separate agenda [note: see update at the end of this post]. These other agendas may include profit. For example, whoever creates an effective vaccine or treatment for Covid-19 stands to make billions. But also, in our “attention economy” people who get huge numbers of followers on social media also profit from that. Motives can also include sowing fear, division and chaos as a political strategy. We know, for example, that Russia under Putin is actively doing this in order to undermine democracy, and politicians within democracies are also seeking to benefit from the confusion and chaos. Amongst this there are scientists and doctors with personal agendas and axes to grind. It’s important to be aware and beware of these hidden agendas.
  5. The most dangerous and compelling lies always have a layer of truth in them. This is what makes them dangerous because we fixate on the part that is true and it blinds us to the part that is false.