Logic: The Vaccine for an Infodemic

by | May 18, 2022

To determine the truth on any issue, whether we are in an infodemic or not, we must examine the facts. More importantly, we must arm ourselves with the proper method for examining those facts.

Merriam-Webster states that an infodemic

typically refers to a rapid and far-reaching spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about something, such as a disease. As facts, rumors, and fears mix and disperse, it becomes difficult to learn essential information about an issue.

Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, Americans have been overwhelmed with information. We have been subjected to conflicting information on nearly [every] topic, including risk avoidance, wearing face masks, and the efficacy of vaccines. This information is provided by public officials and a variety of experts, and it can be difficult to wade through the noise to find the truth. Fortunately, there is a vaccine for this infodemic.

This vaccine wasn’t developed by pharmaceutical companies. It was developed by Aristotle, and it is called logic.

Logic is “the art of non-contradictory identification.” It is the process by which we identify and integrate information, observations, and assertions. Logic is the means by which we determine what is true and what is false. We must integrate each new claim of truth with other truths. When a contradiction is identified, at least one of our premises is wrong.

To illustrate, Joe Biden has claimed that people vaccinated for COVID-19 “do not spread the disease to anyone else.”

Rachel Maddow said, “A vaccinated person gets exposed to the virus, the virus does not infect them, the virus cannot then use that person to go anywhere else.”

Conversely, some conservatives are saying that the COVID vaccines are ineffective because some vaccinated individuals are contracting the disease. So, we are presented with the choice between vaccines stop the disease and vaccines are ineffective. Which of these is true?

The fact is, neither is true. These are false alternatives, and they are founded on the wrong standard of value. The vaccines reduce the severity of COVID if one contracts it, but they do not prevent one from becoming infected or passing it to others. This does not mean that the vaccines are ineffective. By any rational standard, reducing the severity of a disease is certainly effective.

Too often, individuals look at a problem through the lens of false alternatives. Presented with A and B, individuals think that one must be true, and one must be false. When one chooses between false alternatives, one is not making a logical choice.

Liberals are positing vaccines as the perfect solution to the pandemic. Conservatives are saying that if the vaccine doesn’t stop the disease, then it isn’t perfect. In this context, both sides of the debate agree that perfect means stopping the disease from spreading. But this is a false standard. Some vaccines stop an infection from occurring and some don’t. Sometimes, the purpose of a vaccine isn’t the elimination of a disease, but a reduction in its severity.

To determine the truth on any issue, whether we are in an infodemic or not, we must examine the facts. More importantly, we must arm ourselves with the proper method for examining those facts.

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Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

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