Meme overkill: isn’t the truth rather different? This “meme” found on suggests untruths.

Vaccination never works 100% of the time, on an individual basis. The more people who get vaccinated, though, the less likely a contagion will spread into an epidemic. The contagion has trouble spreading when most potential hosts block the spread with their own immune system’s antibodies. It is a matter of the modal potential host: if the modal possible victim of a virus is immune, the virus has trouble spreading, unable to quickly multiply in society. That is the idea of herd immunity.

It is the same as people who have encountered the disease in the wild, and develop antibodies from actually getting and fighting off the contagion: a disease even in a pandemic slows down its rate of spread and then wanes the more people develop antibodies. Even in the worst pandemics not everyone gets infected. Because the herd immunity threshold eventually gets reached.

Vaccination is an attempt to spur antibody growth without actual infection and the risks associated with suffering through the disease. As a mass program, vaccination often makes sense.

The actual incentives to the individual run this: I take the vaccine and hope it works, but others being vaccinated provides extra protection, but . . . others being infected and surviving is BETTER YET.

That is, me getting vaccinated and others suffering through the disease is the best egoistic strategy.

Extrapolate this out and vaccination would seem the most rational social action.


That is one big IF. And lack of trust of vaccine producers (merited or unmerited) throws a huge monkey wrench into our calculations of advantage.

Regarding the current “pandemic,” the disease is deadly only to a small set of the population — that set of people who suffer from co-morbidities such as diabetes and Vitamin D deficiency. Those who are healthy tend to do very well.

If healthy people were even a teensy altruistic, and not sniveling poltroons, they would valiantly risk the disease and let those in jeopardy cower in sequestration, waiting for a vaccine.

Meme engineers out to change human behavior use many techniques. The technique used in the visual meme at top is a cautionary case. It suggests something not true: that what is relevant is that “work” versus “not work.” There are degrees. The desire for others to be vaccinated is not irrational, contrary to the innuendo of the meme.

But there are even more rational strategies.

The most rational one is honesty. Not because dishonesty doesn’t “work” but because honesty encourages rationality generally. It works better.

Right now, we could use a lot more rationality. We are ruled by people whose strategy is to increase fear-based reaction and mass compliance to authoritarian demands. And we are surrounded by cowards who, so fearful, cannot accept new information or wait to make up their minds when actual contexts become clear.

These people have succumbed to the meme of servility. Which is worse than SARS-CoV-2 and its co sequent disease, COVID-19. Our civilization can survive even worse plagues, and has. But can we survive mass servility?