Psychology is the assignment of subjective to causation to behavior by people who have a very limited understanding of the human mind. I’ve seen several articles from Psychology Today that make assertions about why people do not wear masks unless. The article I skimmed that I intended to write about I can no longer find, I only remembered it offered the explanation that people feel it imposes on their behavioral freedom. The article suggested there was no rational basis for not wearing masks, but implied that some people will be contrarian simply because they feel they’re being imposed upon. Which is true, but doesn’t apply to Covid-19 mask mandates and other restrictions.
As I mentioned, there are no shortage of articles by halfwit psychologists so I found another where the woman lists 5 erroneous explanations for why people do not wear masks.
From the beginning we can identify the reasoning behind her errors, it is in the a sentence that reads “We are in a pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. It carries high lethality and already many people have died.”
High lethality and many people died implies 1: that the virus has a high mortality rate, and 2: that it is randomly deadly. Both of these conclusions are not supported by the data.
According to the CDC, from February when data collection in the United States began to September, 94% of people who died of the virus had underlying conditions, with an average of 2.5 conditions present per fatality.(1) In a study from March, of over 2600 people who had underlying medical conditions, 93.5% survived. (2) This means not even the presence of an underlying medical condition means there is a high risk for death, but the advancement of the medical condition is what determines if you have a risk for death.
1: CDC 9/2/2020 “Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics”. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm?fbclid=IwAR3-wrg3tTKK5-9tOHPGAHWFVO3DfslkJ0KsDEPQpWmPbKtp6EsoVV2Qs1Q February 1, 2020 to August 31st “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death.”
2: CDC Report: Preliminary Estimates of the Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 — United States, February 12–March 28, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 31 March 2020. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6913e2 2692 people in the sample had underlying medical conditions. 173 died, which represents 6.6%, meaning even people who have underlying medical conditions have a 93.4% survival rate.
Uros Seljak of Berkely who studied the Italian data extensively concluded “if you want to know what your risk of dying is if infected with covid-19, it’s about the same as your risk of dying of natural causes within the next 12 months”…”Covid kills only the weakest segments of the population. (3) There are 1.75 million people who die of natural causes each year. (4) This represents .5% of the population. This also includes the very elderly who represent the bulk of the 6% of people who die without underlying medical conditions.
3: Robert Sanders, 4/24/2020 “Study Challenges Reports of Low Fatality Rate for Covid-19”. Berkeley News https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/04/24/study-challenges-reports-of-low-fatality-rate-for-covid-19/
4: CDC Deaths and Mortality 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm 1.75 Million includes leading causes of deaths considered as natural causes.
For the general population, well over 99%, the risk of infection is varying degrees of sickness and recovery. The lethality is not high, and it also is not randomly deadly because the healthy population has no chance of dying from the virus. This means it does not qualify as a risk to public safety and all restrictions should be unconstitutional, but no one has prepared that lawsuit due to the interests an exaggerated sense of danger serves. More importantly the restrictions are unnecessary.
Reducing the spread of the virus has no benefit to the general population. Those who have risk factors can wear a mask, respirator, quarantine, and take whatever precautions they feel are necessary without the rest of the population making unnecessary sacrifices that have serious consequences to their liberty and prosperity. If a mask works when everybody wears one, it also works when only those who are interested in reducing their risk of being infected wear one.
In that same vein, the virus is not significantly more dangerous than the flu. Meaning if we were not destroying our way of life and productive capacity to extend the lives of .5% of the population by 1 to 12 months for the flu, there is no reason to do so over a comparatively strength virus.
Psychologists do not even understand the subconscious components to the decision making process. If they did they would know that consequence is considered by the subconscious mind in probability and severity, evidenced in thoughts and feelings that pertain to solving for those assignments, in assigning value to an act. If they did, they’d be more concerned with data than parroting soundbytes about lethality because such information is relevant to understanding risk. Understanding the risk component determines whether the act makes sense for the individual personally, and what the consequence is to other people.
Just as important, psychologists also fail to understand what motivates the individual’s and entities they rely on for information. The media does not seek to provide objective information to inform the public. The media relies on attention to sell ad revenue and present stories to maximize the attention they will receive. The economic restrictions have been very beneficial to some sectors of the economy while being very detrimental to others. However, most of the detriment is to small businesses who are not large enough for political investment and are therefore not represented by politicians. As a result, politicians who serve the interests of their investors are incentivized to exaggerate the danger, and this incentive is even greater when most of the population has been convinced through dramatic impressions and soundbytes that the virus is much more dangerous than it actually is. Virologists and organizations involved with disease have opportunities to draw attention to themselves and their work if they provide opinions that reinforce the exaggerated danger. Most believe they have an ethical obligation to frame the virus as being dangerous because it may save lives, or actually may extend the lives of very old and very sick people by 1 to 12 months. Unfortunately they forget their number one ethical obligation is to tell the truth. This lack of understanding motivation by psychology, causes psychologists to accept opinions as fact about subjects they do not understand much the same as the general population does.
Her first explanation is “Impotent Personalities”, a category of people who don’t care about themselves or other people. This explanation fails to acknowledge that since severe outcomes with the virus happen to about the same people who servere outcomes occur in who have the flu, if the flu wasn’t considered something that people were wrong from protecting people who were in the twilight of their lives from, neither is covid. At the same time, if masks are effective, any person who chooses to wear a mask should be protected from anyone who is not wearing a mask. Any individual who feels the burden of the mask is greater than the symptoms of being infected can choose not to wear a mask without increasing the risk to those who do not want to be infected. “Impotent Personalities” has nothing to do with the objective consequence to not wearing a mask.(5)
5: Christine B.L. Adams, 7/18/2020, “Why Don’t People Wear Masks During Covid?”. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/living-automatic/202007/why-dont-people-wear-masks-during-covid-19
Her second explanation is “Magical Thinking”, but what she describes in example is magical thinking is a person who is sick of covid-19 restrictions who decides not to follow them. She describes magical thinking as a person who believes they can conjure their desires and it doesn’t seem very applicable to the example or not following covid 19 restrictions. This is largely because of what has already been discussed that the risk does not justify the need for the restrictions. People don’t want covid-19 to be over with so they believe if they say it’s over it is over. People familiarize themselves with the data and establish the risk and understand that there is no need for the restrictions.
3rd she claims a lack of “scientific and medical knowledge” but focuses all of her arguments on transmission. Even limiting the argument to only transmission and not severity to most people if infected, she fails to acknowledge that if masks are effective then they are effective for those who are concerned with reducing their risk and the act of people not wearing masks only increases the risk of those who feel like the reward is not worth the effort.
4th, she claims that since young people didn’t grow up with communicable diseases the same as older people they are less aware of how diseases harm others. She says young people have a sense of invincibility because they didn’t grow up under the threat of the cold war or see people drafted into wars. She says they’re non-believers that covid can infect or kill them. If we’re talking about young people whether they believe covid can kill them or not, unless they have some serious underlying medical condition covid cannot kill them. It doesn’t require an irrational sense of invincibility to know that a healthy person of nearly any age, much less a young healthy person doesn’t have a risk of death if infected with covid-19. What’s unfortunate is she believes having been exposed to these threats should create a sense of danger for covid, when what she is comparing to covid is not comparable to covid.
Her final explanation is that people in the United States have a very individualistic heritage. She writes “They fail to evaluate whether mask wearing is logical or illogical under the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. They assert individuality at all times, even over scientific knowledge of viral transmission. Then, after the fact, they tie their stance in with their political affiliation to justify their decision.”
She should take her own advice because you cannot take the position she takes if you “evaluate whether mask wearing is logical or illogical under the circumstances of the covid-19 pandemic”. Are the symptoms one will experience from not wearing a mask worth the burden of wearing a mask? The answer to this question is logical no matter which way one answers it. The consequence of viral transmission or being infected is more important than viral transmission itself, because if 1: the consequence is not severe as it isn’t for probably 90% of the population transmission is irrelevant. And 2: if the act of not taking precautions does not prevent those who do not want to risk infection from taking and be protected from precautions, the rate of infection among the general population who isn’t concerned by the consequence is irrelevant. Finally, she doesn’t understand that the adoption of views comes from political affiliations, people do not establish their views and then associate them with their political affiliations.
As usual, psychology is full of shit.