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Epistemic closure will get people killed

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Oklahoma’s anti-vaxx crackpot governor is boldly willing to tell the truth: that everything is just fine!

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt is in many ways a poster child for today’s Republican Party. A businessman whose company was accused of shady practices (sound familiar?), he ran for the top job in the Sooner State in 2018 as an ultra-conservative whose distrust of Big Government extended even to the science of vaccinations.

I believe in choice,” Stitt said when explaining why he not only did not inoculate his own kids — who were home-schooled — but would not sign a bill requiring vaccinations to attend public school in Oklahoma. “And we’ve got six children and we don’t vaccinate, we don’t do vaccinations on all of our children. So we definitely pick and choose which ones we’re gonna do.”

Stitt’s anti-vax extremism didn’t stop either Vice President Mike Pence from campaigning for him or his election that November as Oklahoma’s 28th governor. Given that history, it probably won’t surprise you to learn Stitt’s gut reaction to today’s coronavirus crisis, and the growing advice from health experts to mostly stay at home and practice social distancing.

On Saturday night, Stitt tweeted a photo of him and two of his unvaccinated sons mugging for the camera in a crowded food hall and bragging that “it’s packed tonight! #supportlocal #OklaProud.” He later deleted the tweet amid a social media outcry, but the episode felt emblematic of a bigger phenomenon that many have noted as the coronavirus crisis escalates — that how seriously one treats the global pandemic may depend on one’s politics.

And since shit flows downhill:

This isn’t just Felber’s imagination. Pollsters are seeing something with the coronavirus crisis that they’ve not seen previously in national emergencies: A steep partisan divide in people’s concern over its seriousness. The numbers in a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey released on Sunday morning are stark.

Democrats are twice more likely (61 percent) than Republicans (30 percent) to say they plan to stop attending large gatherings like the crowded food hall visited by Oklahoma’s Stitt and his kids. There’s a similar Democrat-Republican divide over canceling travel plans ( 47-23 percent), a belief that daily life will change (56-26 percent), and worries that they or a family member might contract coronavirus (68-40 percent).

The effective replacement of local newspapers and newscasts with Fox and Sinclair is a multi-layered disaster for the United States.

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