We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I stopped telling people this thirty years ago because no one wants to hear it, but these things have a lot of truth. Memory is far less reliable than we imagine. I believe in free will and its importance, but our freedom is only a few percent of the total. We rationalise our previous choices, and the real choices at the time get forgotten. There is likely something highly adaptive about believing this about ourselves, and believing what those around us do, however much we pride ourselves on our independence.
I have been reflecting over the past month in particular how little people's Covid opinions depend on the actual numbers out there (if you want to you can find numbers you like better), and how much they depend on what they have seen in their immediate circle. If you have front-line medical workers in your circle, you see the illness as more pervasive than if you don't have a lot of acute-care doctors and nurses in your life.
Secondly - and I am writing more generally and less about covid in specific from here forward - we think what our friends/class/associates think - their similarity to us is why we chose them to begin with.
That highly intelligent people who are used to dealing with numbers can cease thinking numerically, because "what I have been seeing" is so overwhelmingly influential always surprises me. But it's normal.
A few of us are naturally contrarian, looking for how the CW and our near and dear are wrong, but even that is usually within a highly constrained range.
But most of this is post hoc reasoning, and thus, only barely reasoning at all. We fall into our opinions and then defend them fiercely. Again, this is likely adaptive, irrational though it may be.
Assistant Village Idiot
Apologies. I should have mentioned: I have only a little credential in this area. I worked forty years in acute psych, but there was a significant period in the late 90s and early 2000s when I worked neuropsych with some top people. My reading gravitated to this then and I have kept up with it only off and on since. It does bear on religious/philosophical topics like epistemology, choice, and consciousness, and indirectly on treatment for PTSD, depression, and anxiety. I know more than most folks about the topic, but am not in any sense an authority.
Assistant Village Idiot