Who Refused the Covid Shots?
It’s Not Who You Think!
A 2021 survey of 5 million Americans that Finds Most Highly Educated Americans Are Also the Most Vaccine Hesitant. The Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh study found that PhDs had the highest rate of Covid shot refusals, followed by those with the fewest years of formal education (not necessarily the least educated.)
Framing Vaccine Hesitancy
I challenge the mindless framing of all Covid shot Refusers as “vaccine hesitant.” I will reinterpret the results in light of a deeper understanding of refusal (See Misdiagnosing Vaccine Hesitancy and Beyond Vaccine Hesitancy: 3 New Categories.)
Vaccine Refusal is an observable behavior. It is conflated with vaccine hesitancy, an internal psychological state. By lumping all refusers together as vaccine hesitant the researchers make erroneous inferences about people’s subjective experiences, actual intentions and reasoning processes. Attributing hesitancy to all is scientifically incorrect, intellectually lazy, misleading, and irresponsible.
It also divides all people into two categories which promotes dualism, dumbs down the public and fuels us and them thinking and hostility.
Hesitance is an intentional Orwellian frame with a value judgement, ubiquitously used for propaganda campaigns. Hesitants are portrayed as stupid, naïve, inferior, manipulated, right wing, ignorant, selfish, reckless and preventing the end of the pandemic. Hence people are surprised that PhDs are the most “vaccine hesitant.”
The study, and all bought-and-paid-for media characterize vaccine hesitance as bad thing which must be overcome. This justifies spending billions on reducing vaccine hesitancy. “Hesitants’ need to be nudged, bribed, pressured, and told that they are victims of misinformation. When that doesn’t work, they need to be coerced, threatened, fired, punished, ostracized and censored.
For this analysis, let’s more accurately frame low hesitancy more accurately as compliance, conformity and submission to authority, and refusal as trusting exercising one’s own authority. This flips the value judgements.
Excerpts from article “The most vaccine-hesitant group of all? PhDs A new study found that the most educated are the least likely to get jabbed”
“There has been much debate over how to get the unvaccinated to get their jabs — shame them, bribe them, persuade them, or treat them as victims of mis- and disinformation campaigns — but who, exactly, are these people?”
“… the breakdown in vaccine hesitancy by level of education … finds that the association between hesitancy and education level follows a U-shaped curve with the highest hesitancy among those least and most educated. People with a master’s degree had the least hesitancy, and the highest hesitancy was among those holding a Ph.D. “
“What’s more, the paper found that in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated — those with a high school education or less. Meanwhile, hesitancy held constant in the most educated group; by May, those with Ph.Ds were the most hesitant group.”
So not only are the most educated people most sceptical of taking the Covid vaccine, they are also the least likely the change their minds about it… “
False Beliefs about Education, Partisanship and Covid Shot Uptake
It is widely assumed that education and intelligence correlate with higher vaccination rates. The media would have you believe that smarter people are more willing to be vaccinated and that the hesitant are stupid, willfully ignorant, right wing, Trump-loving Republicans, brainwashed by propaganda.
Virtually all left-wing progressives, Democrats, Greens and Independents who refused the shots were believed to be Republicans and/or accused of being manipulated by right wing propaganda. Rejections were swift and automatic. Lifelong friends, relatives and colleagues who previously loved, admired and/or respected us thought we all simultaneously went off the deep end overnight. They believed us to be selfish and recklessly threatening others.
Few were curious, open to dialogue or interested in our reasoning and sources of information. We became entirely different people to them. We were rejected with harshness, silent withdrawal, or polite compartmentalization – maintaining the relationship while excluding all talk of Covid. We were not invited anywhere.
The few PhDs refusers I know were astonished at the study’s results since fellow PhDs and the highly educated were among the most hostile towards us.
Why Many PhDs Refused and Were Not Swayed by Propaganda
After PhDs, the second highest group of refusers were initially the least educated, explained below. However, sadly “ .. in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated — those with a high school education or less.” Later I will analyze why they were swayed while the PhDs were not.
Refusal is not a function of intelligence, years of education or possession of quantities of knowledge. I hypothesize that refusal is a function of developing, recognizing and trusting one’s own authority, having tools to discern what is true and courage to resist pressure.
Except for PhDs, the study showed more education was correlated with lower hesitancy, i.e., more compliance. Much higher education involves indoctrination into an institution’s selected canon of knowledge, which might be influenced by interests of funders.
Unlike following protocols in med school, relying on precedents in law school, learning skills and systems in business school, most PhDs write an original doctoral dissertation using the scientific method. We are trained, not just educated, to develop our own authority.
We must do the following:
Choose an area of interest
Select an advisory committee to guide our research
Review all literature in that area to see what has been discovered so far
Come up with an original question for further investigation
Form a hypothesis
Design an experiment with methodology to test the hypothesis
Design an experimental condition and a control condition
Define independent variables and dependent variables
Find subjects to participate
Run the experiment
Analyze and interpret results
Use statistics to determine how significant results are
Present and defend dissertation before the committee and other observers: because our work is scrutinized, we must be prepared to answer challenges.
Ideally, we are not attached to outcome. We don’t care if our hypothesis is or is not supported. Everything is interesting and leads to further study
See what questions remain unanswered
Consider questions for further study
We learn to never claim anything unless we can back it up with data from a variety of sources. We are trained not to make glib assertions.
We learn to discern and assess legitimacy of claims made about anything
We may be humble about what we don’t know
We may be aware of political influences of what kinds of studies get funded--or not
We may recognize how studies can manipulate methodology to prove what they want
If there is a controversy about something, we don’t automatically believe one side. We have tools to determine what is true
We may be less submissive to undeserved authority of others and respectful of demonstrated legitimate authority
We may recognize propaganda, especially if it is in a field we know, but hopefully also able to detect BS in other fields.
Furthermore, we are trained to read original sources, to be aware of conflicts of interest, institutional biases and to recognize scientific and academic fraud, statistical BS and dirty tricks such as p-hacking in vaccine studies including:
Using subjects not representative of the target population (only young and healthy, no pregnant women, immunocompromised, elderly, children)
Using too few subjects to pick up signals of adverse reactions, to determine safety and efficacy
Running the experiment for too short a time to detect medium and long-term effects
Failure to use an inert placebo (saline solution) to hide true differences in safety
Sabotaging the control group to avoid inconvenient safety comparisons
Statistical BS like using a geometric mean ratio to hide outliers instead of an arithmetic mean (See Neutralizing Dirty Tricksters: Immunize Yourself to Propaganda)
Changing definitions of vaccine, pandemic, unvaccinated
Global lockstep manipulation the cycle thresholds of PCR tests to yield false positives, inflate case rates and justify lockdowns, mandates
Defining people as “unvaccinated” for the 14 days after the last series shot. Because most adverse reactions and deaths occur within days after the shots, this trick provides the basis for the propaganda claim “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
Dirty tricks and techniques to inflate death rates from Covid and deny reactions to shots
Recognizing propaganda, persuasion, manipulation, distortion
Knowing they incorrectly use “antibody response to claim efficacy, even though antibodies are not a “correlate of protection”
Knowing they are not studying T-cell immunity, which is a correlate of protection
Baseless claim that antibodies wane as justification for requiring more shots
Sudden Denial of natural immunity which has been understood for 1500 years
We are not suckers for frequently mimicked slogans and techniques designed to dismiss facts and squash inquirywhile sounding intelligent. Common dismissals include:
“Correlation is not causation” (used to dismiss and deny vaccine injury and more) is not a reason to shut down inquiry. Correlation presents a hypothesis to investigate further. If A is correlated with B, and if A does not cause B, maybe a third thing is causing A and B. Whether A does cause B can be figured out by applying the Bradford-Hill Criteria.
‘It’s only anecdotal.” Every scientific investigation begins with anecdotal evidence. It spikes curiosity. An anecdote demonstrates that something that occurs even once in the body is possible (i.e., a cure from a disease). By definition, anecdotal evidence is not conclusive. It is suggestive and invites further study, including finding disconfirming evidence. Thousands of similar anecdotes indicate a pattern.
Why PhDs who accept the official narrative may be most hostile towards PhD Refusers
They rely on NPR, a seemingly authoritative source of information, see NPR: Propaganda for Progressives. Need I say more?
Not all PhDs (i.e., philosophy, literature) are trained in the scientific method, but still have confidence in their own authority
PhDs with narrow expertise in their own field trust experts in other fields. This is akin to the Gell-Mann AmnesiaEffect.
They don’t have time or feel a need to do their own research on Covid.
The 24/7, 360-degree global media propaganda convinces them with language, imagery and junk science, making claims that seem plausible and compelling.
Disbelief that trusted authorities are incompetent, negligent or evil.
They have a cognitive bias for information that was intensely, emotionally inculcated early on in the pandemic, before there was data. That formed entrenched mindsets that filtered subsequent information, all constantly reinforced by all MSM.
They rely on beliefs, concepts, preexisting knowledge, established information and what they are told by trusted sources rather than direct perception of reality.
They don’t actively and continually seek new data.
They don’t revise their beliefs with new data which they may not perceive.
Fear, fear, fear, causes regression and loss of higher-level cognitive functions
Conformity, consensus--everyone they know believes this. Everyone can’t be wrong.
Fear of professional and economic consequences of going against the narrative: cancellation of grants, denial of future grants, shunning by colleagues, de-platforming
Why People with Fewer Years of Formal Education Know to Refuse the Shots
These are my hunches and speculations. I welcome your thoughts.
They have more street smarts and learn from direct experience rather than indoctrination into systems of selected, approved, funded knowledge.
They are less trusting of designated authorities and know when they are being lied to, having experience, institutional and generational memory of having been lied to before.
They are more tuned in to what is happening around them, with heightened senses not filtered by the powers that be.
They are aware of conflicts of interest.
They may have developed a sense of their own authority in non-academic realms and trust their experience.
The Black Experience
Blacks, including many less educated, have historical reasons to be mistrusting. They may be aware of high rates of vaccine injury in their community, including high rates of autism among Black boys. They have negative experiences with medical treatment (Tuskegee, sterilization, mistreatment in hospitals, high maternal death rates, and false assumptions about pain tolerance--Blacks are given fewer pain medications).
Some may also be more tuned into ancestral folk and natural home remedies and trust nature.
The study “found that in the first five months of 2021, the largest decrease in hesitancy was among the least educated …. Meanwhile, hesitancy held constant in the most educated group; by May, those with PhDs were the most hesitant group.”
This makes me sad. Less educated people, Blacks and Hispanics were heavily targeted with highly designed propaganda, including using Black doctors and celebrities like Hank Aaron and Maria Hinojosa on NPR’s Latino USA to be spokespeople. They received more social pressure and financial bribes.
PhDs were not targeted by such propaganda and were not vulnerable to it. For this and above reasons they were not swayed by pressures. PhDs continued to investigate, follow the data, find allies, and develop support networks that helped resistant propaganda. Some, like me, were censored on other platforms (Medium) and happily moved to Substack. It became our home, community and source of uncensored, high quality, independent, credible information across a variety of domains (medical, scientific, legal, historical, statistical, psychological, political, financial, military, media, covert activities). Connected dots woven together revealed robust facts and a network of support so we don’t feel alone which gives us strength to resist pressures.
How Higher Education Might Foster Compliance and Submission to Authority
After those with bachelor degrees, those with master degrees had the “least hesitancy” = most compliance. It is not surprising that people with higher education are more compliant.
Here’s the chart again for convenience.
Those who completed college are more compliant than those who left. Masters are more compliant than professionals, who may work outside the system, have direct work and life experience, be older and have developed a sense of authority.
College and masters programs create a canon of highly selected, approved (perhaps for political reasons and funding sources) pioneers, heroes, fathers of the field, methods of study, belief systems, analyses of what is possible, and subcultures, and problem- solving strategies.
My PhD clinical psychology program, Long Island University, 1975-81, trained us in Freudian theory, testing, Rorschach, statistics, behavior therapy, learning theory, personality, and more. I conditioned rats in the lab. There was one course in family therapy, which I later pursued, and no mention of Jung and many other significant theorists. Psychiatrists study medicine and prescribe drugs. Their clinical training is different from ours. They learn to treat (suppress) symptoms and not causes. In all fields people pursue more specialized post-doctoral training.
Bachelors have 4 years of education, and masters have 1- 2 years. They begin with basic indoctrination into their field. PhD’s have 3 or 4 years of coursework. Some have internships with supervision. They spend several years working on dissertations. Some publish or develop them into books. They go far beyond the basics to pursue unique interests and develop a sense of authority.
Conclusion – On Developing One’s Authority, Think for Oneself
When my children were in 5th grade in the 1990s, they learned about advertisements and critical thinking. So can all of us. One does not need doctoral training to learn to think for oneself. And those with street smarts should be supported trusting themselves to resist propaganda.
There are ways to help people become individuals, think for themselves and develop their own sense of authority. Here are a few. Please add your ideas in the comments.
Childrearing practices - Training parents to raise children with a sense of autonomy. This includes not punishing children.
Education from Pre K on for critical thinking appropriate to each age level
Encourage dialogue rather than 2-sided, right/wrong debate processes
Teach propaganda techniques so people will recognize them and develop immunity to them
Teach media literacy
Learn from PhD training and adapt the process at other levels and contexts
Learn what streetwise people with less formal education have to teach us.
Celebrities used to influence their publics should feel the weight of responsibility, including life and death. They should scrutinize what they are being paid to promote as to not harm their people
Identify programs, like Dr. Phil Zimbardo’s Heroic Imagination Project that teach courage
Reform systems to stop punishing individuality rewarding conformity and submission
We are at race against time. As the old system is collapsing let’s cultivate the new one to be born.
The time is ripe. The door is open.
Some interesting comments on the study about PhDs, fyi
I know many already red-pilled people. Whew.
With a single exception, none of my friends with PhDs has taken the jab.
The sole exception dropped dead a year ago while giving a lecture.
Comments on UnHerd
I’m currently following a doctorate program. As you climb higher up the academic food chain you realize that experts are no different than most other people – susceptible to hyperbole, self-aggrandizement, opportunism, flattery and fame. I’m vaccine-hesitant and will do all I can to avoid taking it unless I’m absolutely forced to. I’m young and healthy, and would much rather take my chances catching a virus I’m very likely to survive than to be injected with a vaccine that has the potential to wreak irreversible damage to my bodily functions.
The mainstream media has done little to ease my concerns of the vaccines. In fact, by telling me what to do and what to think, it has done the exact opposite. I’m also very independent (according to a personality test given to me by my employers). The moment I feel coerced into something, even if it’s for my own good, I start to dig my heels in.
As a science PhD myself, this finding does not surprise me at all.
Getting a university degree these days is nothing more than an exercise in compliance. You do the work, you wag your tail when you’re offered a bone, you virtue signal about diversity, inclusion, equity and climate change when required, and Bob’s your uncle. Independent thinking is not required. Indeed, it is a hindrance. A master’s degree is no different from a bachelor’s degree, it often doesn’t even require writing a thesis, it’s just another year of taking courses. A degree is positively correlated with being compliant and it is negatively correlated with creativity, independent thinking and ability to get things done.
A PhD, on the other hand, requires you to get something done. You need to produce a piece of work which is original and new. It requires independent thought.
Now that’s mainly true of STEM PhDs. Humanities PhDs are a lot less like that and a lot more like a Master’s Degree. So I predict that if the PhDs were split into cohorts by subject, you would find a lot more vaccine “hesitancy” among the STEM PhDs, while most humanities PhDs would be compliant.
Also, that’s all true of PhDs of years past. The quality of PhD programmes has fallen just as all university standards have fallen with the drive for more “diversity, equity and inclusion.” So I further predict that the older PhDs will be more vaccine “hesitant” than the younger ones.
Similar considerations hold of those who – either by design or by necessity – have to build up their own businesses or their own clientele as self-employed tradesmen. Like the self-employed who never go to university. They have to create something of their own.
It is the midwits, the accountants of this world, those who are very ambitious and desperately want a bachelor’s or a master’s degree so that they can climb a corporate ladder, or achieve other positions of “leadership” (for which yet more compliance, tail wagging and virtue signalling is required), but whose ambition is not matched with ability, and thus they are unable to build their own business, to get a doctorate or otherwise to do something new and creative, that are universally the dumbest and the most likely to be compliant with the prevailing orthodoxy. It’s not just about vaccines, it’s true in every walk of life.
 Acknowledgement to David Schonbrunn for help with title, editing and more
Diane - Excellent article! You have profound clarity about all of this, thank you!
The most crucial time to learn to trust our own authority is before we are cognitive. At that point learning is in the body - learning to trust that I will get what I want, learning to trust my own knowing that I know what I want, and learning to trust to initiate.
I taught school in Berkeley in the late 60's-early 70's in a school which had bussing to achieve racial equality, and in this school 4 of us had a school within the school which promoted child initiated learning as much as possible. What became clear to me then was that while the black kids came to school without much cognitive learning, they knew how to direct themselves; and the white kids had a lot of cognitive knowledge, but didn't know how to direct themselves when they finished something. And the black kids didn't care, for instance, what we thought about their paintings, while many of the white kids did. These observations were all anecdotal, but when I read Jean Liedloff's 'Continuum Concept' I gained an understanding about why this was true. Then I also understood the implications for me of having been in an incubator for 3 weeks.
Gabor Mate's new book, 'The Myth of Normal' explains it very well - the consequences of being too much in our heads and not heart connected to our own knowing, and how the culture will be affected by that.