Neil deGrasse Tyson Falls Prey to the Prevention Fallacy, Which Leads to the "Free Rider Fallacy". It's a Different World Now, Neil. Time to Man-Up.
Why Do Some People Still Fall Prey to the Persistent Myth that mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Reduce Transmission? Fear of stigma hacks their brains to believe the unvaccinated are "free riders".
When thinking about articles for Popular Rationalism, I run into all sorts of information from peer-reviewed scientific literature, videos online, government documents, and emails. People send me ideas for articles via a ton of channels, and I sometimes don’t know what article I’ll write until after a few days of mulling over the recent torrent of current events. Two days ago, I decided to write an article about something I call the Free Rider Fallacy. Last night, physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson blew my mind as he stepped right into it.
Free Rider Fallacy
I was going to write an article about the Prevention Fallacy to critique a recent blog article representation of a survey study on “vaccine hesitancy” on The Conversation. The article casts the results of the study, which itself is cast as a psychological evaluation of choices people make given the legal options to accept or refuse vaccines, as reflecting societal values against free riders - people who benefit from “shared effort” by others that they themselves do not share.
I was surprised to see this passage in the article on The Conversation:
“In this context, the shared effort is of course getting vaccinated, and the collective benefits include a lower risk of infection and therefore illness and death, the end of lockdowns, and so on.”
The author is not aware (or chooses) to ignore the fact that being vaccinated does not lower the risk of infection - and this is true for many vaccine-targeted illnesses, including pertussis, mumps, measles, and now, COVID-19.
The article casts concern among the unvaccinated over the receipt of blood transfusions from the vaccinated to unvaccinated as “extreme”. The author is also evidently unaware of the recent finding of free circulating spike protein unbound to antibodies in the blood of vaccinated teens who were vaccinated, and the studies that show that the spike protein itself is toxic.
Fear of Social Stigmatization Warps Rational Cognition
Yesterday, on a podcast hosted by entrepreneur and chess master Patrick Bet-David, the physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson got into a heated discussion with the host who asked him to explain what we know now about COVID-19 vaccines that we did not know. Tyson, a scientist, did not calmly and politely cite studies showing vaccine efficacy, nor did he cite studies showing vaccine safety. When the host told him that long-term safety was not known, Tyson did not provide references to studies. Instead, he got excited, raised his voice, and launched into a tirade in a condescending manner insisting “Duuuuude!” “The trials!”, referencing the early trials in which Moderna and Pfizer claimed 95% efficacy against transmission.
(Side note: The podcast was hard to listen to because Tyson consistently referred to the vaccine as “the virus” - without catching himself - as in “if you refuse to take the virus”. )
Tyson claims that at any time, given the best available science, we must yield to an unwritten “social contract”. What if the best available science is junk science? He never considers that. He appeals to authority and says if we have other ideas on how the vaccines should be studied, we can share that idea, but who are we to question the boards and the panels (the experts with conflicts of interest?).
He is clearly not aware that Moderna and Pfizer did not count COVID-19 infections that occurred before the second dose and did not count cases and adverse events that occurred in the vaccinated arm of the trials under five weeks after the first dose. (See the 1/2021 Children’s Health Defense article where I do the math - it was 74% efficacy, not 95%). He is clearly not aware that Fauci and Collins called for - and the FDA tolerated - Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson to skip Phase 2 and conduct “Phase 2/3” trials.
Tyson acquiesced that long-term safety was not known, and then, rather than cite data from studies showing the vaccines reduce transmission, he decides to use argument by analogy claiming that people should do something to reduce the risk of “contaminating” others with the virus (emphasis mine):
In the rapid back-and-forth with the host, Tyson starts by saying
“You don't have the right to contaminate someone else…”
“All right so all right at any given moment you say to yourself okay, um, uh what happens to me if I get COVID there's a chance I'll get long COVID, uh I'm certainly out for at least a week uh and there's a chance I'll be hospitalized and there's a chance I'll die…
I take the vaccine, it mitigates… this basically entirely removing the chance that I'm going to die essentially at my age group and I will accept the risk that in five years I'll grow a third arm that's the kind of decision-making that I make…
Tyson is (without data) overweighting death from COVID-19 and down-weighting death from vaccine-related causes - even if the risk of death from vaccine-related causes is unknown, as he explicitly acknowledged. He has the gall to lecture Patrick Bet-David - a Chess master - on risk calculation - and he does not understand the problem is a balance of risk, not risk/benefit. (See (peer-reviewed): Balance of Risk in COVID-19 Reveals the Extreme Cost of False Positives).
Tyson: “Now that's just for me but on top of that if my workplace says “we don't want you coming in unless you are vaccinated and you might lose your job” I would say “Why?” - “oh, because you could contaminate someone else introducing a problem in their own health profile”…
That's the public contract, that's why workers wash their hands in the restaurant bathrooms by law… they are required to do so because you don't want poop germs in your dinner that they're preparing because our evidence showed that that's one of the greatest places you can spread disease is in a restaurant with a central kitchen so these are these are the this is the…
Now you want a world where you can do whatever you want and have it influence other people…”
“…What I'm saying is in a case where you can contaminate someone else it's not about you it's about the collective…”
Tyson is - without data - overweighting death from COVID-19 and down-weighting death from vaccine-related causes - even if the risk of death from vaccine-related causes is unknown, as he acknowledged.
What Tyson has done is to switch the focus from the risk of passing on a SARS-CoV-2 infection (contaminating others) to the risk of reducing one’s own risk of serious illness - and, remarkably, he seems oblivious to that switch in focus.
Tyson later then claims that “at one time, 87% of people dying in the hospital from COVID were unvaccinated”, perhaps not recalling two important points: 1. At one point, 87% of people in the US were unvaccinated, so we need to know when, and 2. Now, the majority of people who are dying from COVID-19 are vaccinated.
It’s as if Tyson is trying to justify the wrong-think that led to the current debacle in which most deaths are in the vaccinated, and massive number of people are suffering debilitating vaccine injuries.
The Fallacy of Prevention
Tyson may not be aware that in January 2022, the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky admitted that COVID-19 vaccine cannot prevent transmission (MSN link).
He must not be aware that a year later, in January 2023, Pfizer admitted that their Covid-19 vaccine wasn’t even tested to see if it would prevent transmission (BizNews link).
Tyson did acknowledge that the virus evolved - and that the plan was to update the vaccine to keep up with the virus, but he seems oblivious to the problem of antibody dependant enhancement and does not even factor in the fact that natural immunity protects. He does not acknowledge that sending COVID-19 patients home for ten days with no medical intervention to incubate virus created millions of incubators of new variants, and he believes that the vaccine still provided partial protection against COVID-19, seemingly unaware of the consequences of the vaccine program: people who test positive have been denied medical care for other conditions, the vaccinated are being hospitalized, and the vaccinated are dying, while the unvaccinated have far more durable immunity:
“The strain evolved okay so that the vaccine that prevented you from Catching Covid (it) was tuned to the (now extinct -PR) variant of Covid at the time the vaccine was denied what was designed okay…
“Over time there were variants that arose the vaccine provided partial protection against the new variants enough to keep you from dying statistically and to basically keep you out of the hospital allowing other people with more severe problems to get the hospital attention they required and so then they would develop a subsequent the booster and a subsequent mixture of the vaccine…
This is what happens every year with a flu shot they look at how the flu has evolved from one season to the next and we have what's fortunate is Australia tends to get the variant of flu before we do because they get their winter in our summer and then… we study that have a forward projection for it so that… these annual flu shots are precisely out of the same idea of how this occurs”
It has been established that the vaccine was never 95% effective. Further, case rates, hospitalization, and deaths in the “vaccinated” do not include those who got COVID-19 after the first dose but before the second. Also, due to the massive false positive rate of COVID-19 PCR tests, it is unknown how many “positive” cases, hospitalizations, and deaths involving “COVID” were RSV, influenza, and bacterial influenza which, if untreated for ten days, present a serious risk to the health of patient.
The stark reality of the consequence of this type of thinking - flawed in every way - is that people are dying because they are denied organ transplants for refusing the vaccine; people who do not benefit themselves in any way from the vaccine are subject to the risk of serious side effects from COVID-19 vaccine. Tyson claims “There have to be consequences” for people who do not partake in the risk of vaccination to provide presumed benefit to others.
As Patrick Bet-David informed Tyson: “They were wrong”.
Tyson should be made aware of this report by Josh Geutzkow showing that CDC knew of massive numbers of safety signals of all types - thrombo-embolic, cardiac, neurological, hemorrhagic, hematological, immune-system and menstrual adverse events (AEs) among U.S. adults (CDC results not brought forward in a timely manner).
The flaw in Tyson’s logic is that he thinks the vaccine will reduce his risk of serious COVID, which “at his age” he sees as a personal risk factor, and therefore everyone else should be vaccinated and share any risk of adverse events from vaccines that he, himself, is willing to endure. Fine. Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Knock yourself out. As long as the vaccinated do not start filling up hospitals, Neil… preventing the unvaccinated from getting the critical care they need… right?
Using Tyson’s language, I have a message for him: You don’t have the right to subject someone else to the risk of vaccine injury for your own (perceived) benefit. Period.
Sorry, Neil. You don’t have the right to presume a “social contract”. By lying and manipulating the public, by shirking and taking shortcuts on vaccine safety studies, Fauci and his ilk have voided the social contract.
Sorry, Emily Oster. We decline to offer those who fudged data, warped public perception, took short cuts, and outright lied to us amnesty. They knew what they were doing. We need prosecutions. (See Oster’s article in which the wrong-doers offer themselves an olive branch).
We don’t live in the world Tyson and Oster still think we live in.
Tyson, and people who think like Tyson. need to recognize that by supporting mandates, they are supporting literal slavery - forcing someone’s body to produce the spike protein, but for what? For the myth of herd immunity or reduction of transmission? The vaccine does not prevent transmission.
Once Tyson recognizes that The Free-Rider Fallacy must be addressed in light of The Prevention Fallacy, I would hope he would come to his senses and join us in demanding evidence-based, reality-based public health policy and medical standards of care.
And I would hope that he would agree that we must hold those who knew they were taking population-level risks, censoring and stifling scientists like me who tried to warn them - accountable.
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I have never liked him....he always cuts-off people and is arrogant.....so not surprised....
Thanks for this. Tyson also made a complete and total ass of himself on Bill Maher a few weeks back. He refuses to listen to data or science on the vaccine, and constantly defaults to the BS positions you have outlined. It led me to post on his Facebook page that he would be better off just focusing on physics instead of medicine because he is showing how untrained and ignorant he really is.