Covid, the unmotivated fear of the vaccine: this is why it is so widespread

How is Italy doing in terms of the number of murders? Good or bad? “Wow, they’re growing bigger and bigger. Every day we hear of nothing but murdered deaths! “. Mistaken. Italy is one of the safest countries in the world, with a number of homicides of just 0.53 per 100 thousand inhabitants (Istat data on the number of homicides in Italy in 2019). In a country considered quiet, like Malta, it kills itself 400% more times.

Why then do we have the feeling that we live in a violent nation? Because the human mind is not particularly predisposed to statistics and instead tends to be greatly influenced by individual cases, especially if they exert a strong emotional impact on it.

For example, we look at the terrorist attacks of recent years in Europe and think that they have caused a large number of deaths, to find that terrorism is among the fewest causes of death in existence and that it kills far less than a little falling water. on the kitchen floor.

He’s called “availability bias“And consists in the fact that the more available (ie easily recoverable at the level of our working memory) the memory of an event in the archive of our episodic long-term memory, the more we tend to consider it frequent and to use this misperception as a substitute of an actual statistical data (Does it immediately come to mind? Then it happens often).

It’s about this bias (systematic error) mental that normally relies on, for example, those who want to convey fear, such as terrorists.

It fits perfectly with another bias, which we call “inattention to the denominator”. That is, we tend to look at individual cases without referring to the statistical basis to which they refer. The 18 cases of fatal thrombosis related to the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine (the numerator) appear many and trigger theavailability heuristic of which we have said (each new case consolidates it in our memory), without considering how many people vaccinated (the denominator) that unfortunate event takes place: 25 million people (EMA data).

Now, the ratio, of one in a million or more, of deaths from thrombosis attributable to the vaccine makes it win in the field of safety over even activities such as getting out of bed in the morning or sitting in a chair, gestures that cause (for the possible fall) a much higher number of deaths (statistical data on these events are calculated using a probabilistic indicator called “micromort”, which indicates the number of deaths per million people caused by a single behavior or event).

The serious problem is that the indulgence towards our human weaknesses must also be balanced with the data of their impact on our safety, if we consider that the behaviors dictated by such irrationality (I postpone or do not do the vaccine) cause a disproportionate number of more deaths. of those fearful of doing so. In short, hearts and numbers often seem to travel dramatically separate paths.

The answer, natural and more than understandable (net of denial or office conspiracy), is the classic one: Yes, we understand it, but we are afraid all the same. And there is no rational argument that holds.

It is true, and this is why the school can play an important role, teaching pupils from an early age what children are and how they act. bias of our mind, how they interface with emotions and how we can stem their most dangerous effects. Socio-emotional education, development of a critical spirit and an aptitude for verifying information and rationally analyzing available data are therefore a fundamental factor for growth. Personal, social and civil. Better, perhaps, to think about it in time.

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