The Mask-Cultist Whisperer.
How to Talk to People Who've Completely Bought Into the COVID Narrative (Part 1).
In my lifetime, America has become more and more divided, fragmented, atomized, and polarized over an ever-increasing myriad of issues. In terms of the metaphor of there being a societal fabric, America was once a patchwork quilt of many colors, diverse and with distinct parts, but still sewn together and united as a whole. Somewhere along the way, someone attacked that patchwork quilt with a pair of scissors, leaving pieces scattered all over the ground. These individual pieces, while certainly decorative and nice looking as individual pieces, can no longer perform the function of a whole patchwork quilt, which is to keep someone warm, protected from the chill of a cold winter night. Likewise, the divisions within our society have made our society dysfunctional, unable to operate as a whole, healthy society. Indeed, there are nowadays factions in our society that have declared other factions to be enemies only fit for subjugation, tyrant-style “re-education camps”, shunning with second-tier citizen status, and, in worrisomely more common rhetoric, even death.
In the particular case of COVID orthodoxy vs. COVID skepticism, there are parents who have lost custody of their children for not “masking up”. There are demagogues on TV calling for the Nuremburg Code to be tossed out so that millions of people can be forcibly injected with permanent DNA-altering substances. The stakes of this ideological schism are quite high.
How has communication between people in America gotten to the point at which anyone who disagrees with one side of an issue doesn’t simply disagree, but must be branded “evil” and attacked? What can be done to bridge these gaps? Is it even possible to repair any of the damage to the societal fabric quilt?
This article will focus primarily on the particular division between those who buy into the COVID narrative and those who don’t. However, the basic observations and principles apply to any of the ideological divisions that have Americans rabidly at each other’s throats these days. I will share here insights and techniques that have helped me to have productive dialogues with COVID narrative true believers, while also giving examples of how these ideas can be applied to other topics as well.
In these articles, I’ll be going over some “do’s and don’ts”. Here, in Part 1, we’ll explore three “don’ts”, things to refrain from when attempting to intellectually stimulate and engage Mask-Cultists. These are important and not to be skipped, although I’m looking forward to sharing Part 2 with the “do” ideas, because they are really exciting. My favorite idea is #4. I’m saving that for next time. That’s right! I want to hook you!
Idea #1: Realize What Both Sides Are REALLY Talking About (aka Understanding Intellectual Foundations). Don’t Charge into the Conversation Like a Bull in a China Shop, Attacking Their Assumptions. Help Them Examine Their Assumptions Instead.
I was born in 1971 and I’m currently 50 years old. I remember, in high school in the 1980’s, noticing during discussions around me in my high school, between people who were pro-abortion and people who were pro-life, that on one side vocabulary including “him, “her”, and “the baby” was used. On the other side, a vocabulary consisting of “it” and “the fetus” was used. Even the relatively goofy teenager that I was, could realize all the way back then that the two sides were not even having the same conversation. They were not even discussing the same topic. How could they? A 1.) “baby” and a 2.) “non-person clump of cells” are not remotely the same thing. One side is talking about saving babies. The other side DOESN’T believe that there EVEN ARE babies to save. These two ideas are completely incompatible and irreconcilable views of reality. Either 1.) a living being is a person, like a baby or a child or an adult, or 2.) a living being is not a person, like a squirrel, a spider, a fish, or a banana tree. The idea that the living being in a pregnant woman’s womb is a person and the idea that it is not a person are irreconcilable. It may look superficially when a pro-lifer and a pro-abortionist are talking, that they are talking about the same thing, but they are not!
Let’s fast forward from the 1980’s to 2021, to the societal conflict between COVID narrative believers and COVID narrative non-believers. While it’s typical for COVID narrative non-believers to cite the CDC statistic that for people under 70, COVID-19 has a 99.7% survival rate, making it LESS lethal than the normal flu that’s been around for thousands of years, the believers in the COVID narrative continuously absorb, day in and day out, consistently brain-hammering messages from the media that COVID-19 is the deadliest, most dangerous plague of all time and that only turning the entire Earth into a medical fascist super-state can stop it. As with pro-abortion vs. pro-life, these two ideas are completely incompatible and irreconcilable views of reality. COVID-19 cannot be both a mild virus and history’s deadliest plague. The COVID-19 discussed by COVID narrative skeptics is NOT the same COVID-19 discussed by the COVID narrative true believers. It may look superficially when a COVID skeptic and a COVID true believer are talking, that they are talking about the same thing, but they are not!
When having discussions with those of an opposing ideology, then, it is important to understand how their base assumptions about reality differ from yours. One’s intellectual foundation consists of the base assumptions we each have about reality upon which we build all the rest of our thinking structure, just as a house is built on its foundation. When you are crafting your words and phrases, when you are selecting your examples and analogies, when you are citing your studies and statistics, understanding how the other side views reality will save you a lot of time and frustration. You will recognize that there are certain ideas that the other side will not accept instantly, right off the bat, even though, to you, they seem like the simplest, most logical, common sense ideas in the world. The other side simply doesn’t have the intellectual foundation laid in their mind to accept such statements instantly, at face value. Their current intellectual foundation is built on entirely different assumptions about reality.
Pairs of Opposing Assumptions About Reality:
An unborn human is a baby, a person.
An unborn human is a clump of cells, a non-person.
COVID-19 is a mild virus.
COVID-19 is the deadliest, most dangerous plague ever.
Every bit of America and American history is racist through and through. The 1619 Project and BLM have got it right.
While no country is perfect, America has made more steps than any other culture toward overcoming racism. The 1776 Project has it right and BLM is a Marxist, terrorist organization stoking racial division and hate.
Medical masks, when worn out in public in ordinary life, are an essential part of controlling viruses and everyone should do it.
Wearing medical masks out in public in ordinary life is one of the most ignorant, stupid, anti-science, and health-damaging things ever.
If you’re truly committed to engaging with someone of opposing ideology on a topic of disagreement, realize that if they are truly open to discussing things with you, sincerely and honestly, that it will take time and patience to carefully present to them in a palatable way, a different intellectual foundation.
If you charge into a discussion without carefully assessing the differences in intellectual foundation between your side and the other person’s side, then you’re going to do as much damage as the proverbial bull in the china shop.
Idea #2: Don’t Call People Stupid, Dumb, Ignorant, or Anything Like That
This one should be pretty obvious, but to the best of my knowledge, calling someone stupid has never been a successful persuasive technique. If we let negative emotions affect our judgment, especially when people actually ARE being stupid, it can be very tempting to make that particular observation out loud. DON’T!
If you’re reading an article like this because you would like to be a “Mask-Cultist Whisperer” and become more polished and effective in talking to people who disagree with you, then realize that this mistake, if you commit it, will make all your time wasted in talking with people in the first place.
Idea #3: Avoid Cherry Picking (At Least At First)
In the various pairs of ideologically opposite points of view, each side has its own pantheon of experts, authors, speakers, talk show personalities, etc. These experts get labeled as supporting one side or the other and are considered nothing more than propagandists by the opposing side. Therefore, when one tries to cite research by one of their side’s experts, there can be accusations of cherry picking. Side A might say, “Well, of course you’d cite so-and-so, they’re just a mouthpiece for Side B.” Side B of course would say, “Well, of course you’d cite so-and-so, they’re just a mouthpiece for Side A.”
A conservative will probably not listen to you quote a liberal author. A liberal will probably not listen to you quote a conservative author. An evolutionist won’t care what you learned at an exhibit at the Creation Museum and a creationist won’t care what Richard Dawkins says.
This is where the division between COVID narrative believers and COVID narrative non-believers really is unique, at least in my experience so far. While there is a pantheon of experts on each side, to be sure, there are also facts and figures from sources such as the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO that support COVID narrative skepticism.
So, if you’re trying to be a “Mask-Cultist Whisperer”, you might not want to bring up Del Bigtree, Dr. Carrie Madej, Dr. Sheri Tenpenny, or Dr. Michael Yeadon in your first conversation, since they have been labeled heretics by the COVID Cult orthodoxy. However, the oft-cited quote that COVID-19 is 99.7% survivable and is more survivable than the regular flu is from the CDC. The CDC has also reported vaccine-death figures to show that the COVID-19 so-called “vaccines” have already, in just 5 months of 2021, killed more people than all vaccines have killed in the last 20 years combined. In the case of COVID-19 belief vs. COVID-19 skepticism, we skeptics have the luxury of using sources that the other side is supposed to agree with according to their own orthodoxy! The Mask-Cultists can’t say that we are simply cherry picking from our own side’s experts.
Later on, if someone is truly open to seeing what science says about COVID, it may be time to introduce them to Del Bigtree and the doctors mentioned above as well as Dr. Geerd Vanden Bossche and Dr. Judy Mikovits while you’re at it.
Wrapping Up Part 1: The “Don’ts”
1.) Don’t charge in like a bull in a china shop. Take the time to analyze exactly how the other person’s intellectual foundation is different from yours so that you can help them examine their assumptions instead of simply attacking their assumptions.
2.) Don’t insult someone’s intelligence. That’s never persuaded anyone of anything.
3.) Specifically with the COVID narrative, don’t cherry pick from COVID skeptical experts at first. Instead, take advantage of the fact that “their experts” report facts that agree with us all the time.
Next time, we’ll get into Part 2: The “Do’s”.
BIO: Jon Klement is currently the head instructor at www.mrkscienceacademy.com, an online resource to support homeschooling families in the area of science. Jon received his B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia and completed his teaching certificate work at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He’s been teaching/coaching for 14 years, written four young adult novels, two children’s books, and two young adult short stories.