Authored by Ben Sellers via Headline USA (emphasis ours),
In a video posted to his YouTube account Saturday, “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams admitted that those who refused to submit to the deadly coronavirus vaccine “appear to be right” based on the latest evidence.
Instead of getting the gene-altering jabs, so-called anti-vaxxers held out for a less virulent strain of the virus to arrive and deliver natural immunity, mimicking the way all earlier vaccines worked prior to the mRNA breakthroughs by Moderna and Pfizer in late 2020.
“Now you’ve got natural immunity and you have no vaccination in you,” Adams noted.
“Can we all agree that that was the winning path?” he continued. “The smartest, happiest people are the ones who didn’t get the vaccination, and they’re still alive.”
As is often the case with comedians, Adams’ tone makes it difficult to discern the extent to which his video may be tonge-in-cheek.
He has developed a sizable following on Twitter, where he largely supports conservative causes and positions, but controversially broke rank with many of his followers in coming out strongly in favor of the vaccines.
The dilemma is a familiar one within MAGA’s anti-vax subculture, where even once-sacred cows like former President Donald Trump and Fox News host Sean Hannity, both of whom crowed about the importance of the vaccine, have been left tarnished, to an extent, by the science.
Adams’s sarcastic intonation seemed to suggest that the recent video was a nod to his many online critics, more a genuflection than a sincere admission of error.
Indeed, since being proven wrong by the data, he has regularly pushed the idea that both sides in the debate use faulty reasoning and information to reach their conclusions.
After saying that he didn’t want to “put any shade … whatsoever” on his acceptance that the vaccines were a mistake, Adams them proceeded in the video to reiterate his defense that drinking the vax Kool-Aid seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
He also downplayed the fact that warning signs about the vaccine’s risks were present almost immediately, along with strong evidence suggesting they had no efficacy in preventing the transmission or contraction of the virus.
Instead, Adams suggested that opponents were simply invested emotionally in a contrarian worldview.
“The anti-vaxxers, I think, were really just distrustful of big companies and big government,” he said. “That’s never wrong.”
Adams then suggested he was the victim for going out on a limb and having the courage to make himself a vaccine guinea pig based on his informed decision-making.
“All of my fancy analytics got me to a bad place,” he said, beckoning back toward a white board that showed a graph of his cost–benefit analysis. “All of your heuristics—‘Don’t trust these guys, it’s obvious’—totally work.”
Naturally, he was met with more backlash online after posting the video.
You will be missed. https://t.co/BZ7S2WKfX7— Scott Adams (@ScottAdamsSays) January 22, 2023
While invoking the psychological concept of heuristics—essentially, the idea that vaccine skeptics relied on their preconceived beliefs and opinions to form a snap judgment, Adams’s fallacy lies in another clinical concept—the idea of Type I versus Type II errors in hypothesis testing.
The term comes from statistical analyses, in which there exists both a control/null hypothesis and a treatment/alternative hypothesis of some kind, with researchers calculating the probability, based on a given sample, that one’s assumptions are true.
Since there is always a degree of uncertainty, a Type I error results in the rejection of a hypothesis that is, in fact, true. A Type II error result from acceptance of a false hypothesis.
While it seems needlessly complicated due to the use of variables and other jargon, humans instinctively calculate these sorts of risk assessments with every decision we make: Is it better to try something experimental that might offer some unknown benefit or to follow the status quo and risk missing out on something better?
For Adams and his pro-jab cabal, however, there was no such dichotomy. Instead, the vaccine was an all-or-none proposition, and any who reached a different conclusion were not only wrong by default, but evil, selfish, ignorant rubes who rightfully deserved to be punished.
By contrast, vaccine skeptics never demanded that anyone follow their decisions, recognizing the chance of error that existed on either side of the bell curve.
But in reality, another variable was added into the mix—the possibility that the vaccine not only had no effect, but that it had an actively adverse effect on different segments of the population, including healthy young adults and children.
All scientific experiments need a control group, and had everyone agreed to take the jab, we might never know if it worked or not relative to natural immunity. Millions of people would still be getting boosted mindlessly, assuming that the decline in COVID cases was proof positive that Big Pharma had saved the day.
Sadly, the scientific reality is that, as a so-called anti-vax movement, those who adopted the live-and-let-live mentality of staying out of other people’s medical decisions also failed.
Since, as Adams readily acknowledged, the null hypothesis proved true in the end, a truly equivalent situation would have seen anti-vaxxers aggressively attacking those who chose the vaccine and threatening to curtail their rights on the basis that vaccination was a social menace that put pure-bloods at a greater risk.
But as Adams will surely agree, hindsight is 20–20, and all we can do is to take the lessons learned and apply them when the next scandemic comes along. Right?
Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.