98% Propaganda


As an employee of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I had the honor of receiving an email message: “Vaccinations and Mask Wearing.” The message spoke of further requirements:

Vaccination remains the most effective means of protection. We know the vaccines work—since January, more than 98% of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians. Do your part and get your shot

I guess the 98% line is used pervasively. My father urges my 20-year-old daughter, who has had Covid, to get vaccinated. He gives the same 98% line. I guess it’s repeated on television or in the newspaper. I come from a family of lifelong lefties.

The 98% propaganda is the fallacy of mistaking an “If A, then B” statement with its inverse. I don’t know how true the 98% claim is, but let’s suppose it’s true. In fact, let’s suppose it’s 100%, not 98%.

That’s the “If A, then B” statement. If vaccinated (A), then no hospitalization and death from Covid (B).

The inverse of an “If A, then B” statement is: “If B, then A.”

In this case, the inverse would be: “If one avoids hospitalization and death from Covid, then one is vaccinated.” That statement is false.

The truth of an “If A, then B” statement does not by any means ensure the truth of the inverse (“If B, then A”).

For example: “If one is a pediatrician, then one is a doctor” does not imply “If one is a doctor, then one is a pediatrician.”

My father, in fact, is a pediatrician, now retired. He urges my daughter (his granddaughter) to get vaccinated. He tries to justify that urging by saying: “Everyone who is vaccinated avoids hospitalization and death from Covid.”

But if there are other surefire ways to avoid hospitalization and death, the justification may be a complete non sequitur.

We can equally say, I tell Dad:

Everyone who has recovered from Covid infection avoids subsequent hospitalization and death.

Everyone who is 20 years old avoids subsequent hospitalization and death.

My daughter, then, on two counts, doesn’t need a vaccination to avoid hospitalization and death from Covid. Meanwhile, there is so much about the vaccination, its development, its rollout, its liability status, and so on that is unknown and irregular—downright bizarre. The matter is not so simple.

Authoritarianism indoctrinates its votaries and buffaloes others into a false and oversimplified worldview, in which the only important factor is vaccination. But the causes of hospitalization and death are multifarious.

The causes that pertain to the individual are known best by the individual. Contrary to diktats, freedom enables individuals to act on the basis of his or her particular conditions, such as whether she has had Covid, whether she is young, whether she has comorbidities, and so on.

Covid authoritarians might say that everyone has to be vaccinated because of spreading. That, too, doesn’t acknowledge natural immunity. As for the rest, the possibility of asymptomatic transmission of the Covid-19 virus from the unvaccinated is extremely low. So again, all the authoritarians seem to have is propaganda.

Tomorrow my daughter and I shall go visit Dad. I’m vaccinated. But we’ll do a test the day of, just to make sure. Focused Protection.