Two somewhat-related items as we head into the weekend…

Yesterday’s post sparked some interesting discussion; it was supposed to be about the difference with arguing opinions versus facts. When it comes to English or Political Science, there are opinions. When it comes to Math, there are facts… and just because the facts were taught incorrectly (or not at all), it does not negate their validity. The big difference between Math teachers and English teachers is that one has more “wiggle room” than the other. Or, should. Thinking back to elementary school, grade 5 to be exact, I remember this interaction… and it bothers me to this day. I am a big fan of good teachers (and have written about, and will do so in the future as well) – many I’ve experienced in my lifetime.

But school teachers… public or private / elementary or high-school… it’s always hit or miss.

On this day back in 1978, the English teacher who was now also teaching Math… asked the class something like “Of the numbers from one to ten, which ones go into twenty?”

Hands shot up and kids were called upon…

“Yes – very good”

And then I put up my hand and said, “Don’t they *all* go into twenty? I think you mean which ones go into twenty *evenly*”.


“Like nine… it goes into twenty twice, but not evenly. Remainder two”

And instead of “Oh, well… yes, you’re right…”, what she said was, “Oooohhhh… boys and girls, looks like we have a little math genius in the room!” – which of course was met with derision and “Hee Haw” from around the classroom. Up yours, Mrs. T.

Hey, teachers… your kids are impressionable. They remember stuff like that. Here we are, more than forty years later.

And speaking of education, and possible lack thereof, the messaging around vaccines has not been great. There are people who “get it”, but they are not the ones that need convincing, explaining or educating. They understand, and they will get their vaccine as soon as they’re able.

The messaging towards the vaccine-hesitant has been awful, to the point of making things worse. Now, finally, we are on the cusp of seeing ramped-up production and delivery… and now the issue will simply be that people don’t want to get vaccinated… and when you ask an otherwise well-informed person why, you’ll hear things like:

“The vaccine isn’t 100% effective”
“It doesn’t work against the new variants”
“You can still be contagious after you get it”
“We’re told we still have to wear masks and socially distance, so why bother?”

Most of that has some truth to it, but that’s totally missing the point. Yes, 95 isn’t 100. It seems to work just fine against the new variants, but we won’t know for sure till we have some data. Yes, for a period of time, you can still be contagious… but after two weeks, almost certainly not. And, finally, yeah… we still have to wear masks and socially distance because we’re not all immune… because, guess what, we’re not all yet vaccinated.

But, for whatever reason, the clarity of the message gets lost with all of the more-effective fear-mongering… and, as a result, a third of the U.S. military have refused to get vaccinated. Some 60% of Ohio nursing-home workers have declined it. Ultimately, as per the latest poll, half of Americans would refuse the vaccine today… a number which is ironically higher in Black in Hispanic people; ironic, because they generally have a higher chance of getting the disease… and worse outcomes. Data has shown that two weeks after getting the second dose, your chances of dying from C19 are near zero. At worst, you’ll suffer what seems to be a conventional cold… but that message is not getting through.

This is the end-result of awful, inconsistent messaging from former leadership in the U.S…. but here in Canada, while the numbers are better, they’re still alarmingly high… probably because for people who like to see things in terms of a binary solution… good/bad black/white right/wrong… no matter how good vaccine outcomes might be, there’s always the caveat… it’s not perfect. Therefore, it’s useless.

The messaging needs to be consistent. It needs to be hammered home unequivocally. And it needs messaging from trusted experts, not politicians. Not English teachers posing as Math teachers whose attitude is to lash out at those that don’t agree.

At the end of the day, it’s all about education… and that needs to be happening a lot better than it is now.

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