Why do conservatives take some diseases seriously, but not others?

Yup. This exact cartoon, and the one with the guy on the roof of his house during a flood turning away help from a boat and a helicopter because he was waiting for God to save him, came up during the conversation with my religious-but-vaccinated acquaintance.

IMHO, it’s because Christians read so many accounts of miraculous supernatural deliverance that they think “normal” deliverance doesn’t count.

For instance, when Daniel’s three friends were thrown into a fiery furnace, God saved them miraculously - despite being engulfed in flames, they weren’t burnt in the least. God didn’t “rescue” them by some normal-seeming means, such as giving Nebuchadnezzar a change of heart before they were thrown in. When the thousands of people were hungry, Jesus didn’t say, “Well, let’s see if we can arrange for some people in nearby towns to deliver us some food here.” Instead, He vastly multipled a little bit of bread and fish to feed a huge crowd. Unmistakably supernatural.

As a result - reading numerous miraculous accounts of people being rescued in the Bible, and in modern times, conditions many Christians into thinking that only supernatural-looking rescues “count”. So it can’t be something like “I’ll wear a mask, get vaccinated, distance, and be protected that way.” It has to be some way that defies the odds - I’ll go about in the midst of infected people, inhale their viruses, and still not be infected. THAT’LL show that it’s supernatural!

We could relate that one to the vaccine. They still had to go and get the bread and eat the bread right? It’s not that they were suddenly not hungry because Jesus miracled the bread directly into their stomachs.

I’m sure a lot of devout believers and devout antivaxxers that are working on the assumption that their faith will protect* them are going to have that faith rocked when they or their loved ones catch, or die from, covid. If thier identity is wrapped up in their faith, that has to be a big concern for them. And, while I know there’s no logic in faith, you’d think some of them might think that maybe if they get the vaccine (and take other precautions) they can believe that god provided it for them and therefore god’s will is still being done.
The whole ‘god works in mysterious ways’ thing was meant just for things like this. Like, specifically for this. It’s a big giant loophole just for people to be able to make shit up as they go along and say “I don’t know, god works in mysterious ways” or “I don’t have an explanation, I just have faith that god has a reason”.

*or they’re being told that by someone that they’ll blindly give money to on the promise of getting into heaven.

That brand of Christian, at least.

However they seem to miss some mportant elements in the whole theology, with ISTM at the most fundamental level ignoring: “It is written: thou shall not test the Lord.”

I’m pretty sceptical. Many if not most large corporations have actually understood the economic reality of a pandemic far better than right wing politicians.

I think that small businesspeople have been more of a source of political pressure because they have far less ability to weather a storm.

I have been hashing this through with bothe pro and antivaxx family members the last few weeks. It’s crazy. They don’t even seem to know themselves why the are so violently against any safety measures. Pressure from their church, a steady diet of Fox News and a lifetime membership in the Trump fan club certainly, but the best they can do to articulate it is “it isn’t that bad, it’s just like flu, etc”. Denial. Even after my mom died of it 3 weeks ago, something they are trying to get changed on her death certificate. Even after my sister spent two weeks in the ICU with, coming out last week with permanent damage they deny will be permanent. Guess their god or Trump will fix it.

Geez Louise operacat, so sorry about your mom and about your sister’s illness. And on top of all that you have to deal with the survivors’ obstinate irrationality about it.

Two things on the “it isn’t that bad, it’s just like flu” argument:

  1. Flu kills people, usually tens of thousands of people a year. That’s why there’s the flu vaccine, which millions of people take each year to reduce their chances of, you know, dying of the flu.

  2. COVID-19 is far worse than the flu, as illustrated by the fact that during the 2020-2021 flu season, the same draconian safety protocols that nonetheless couldn’t keep the COVID death toll below several hundred thousand reduced the number of flu deaths to well under one thousand.

Really sorry to hear about your loss.

As others have stated upthread, I think a substantial element of their denial is tribalism. Trump downplayed it, so they downplay it. Another related and amplified element is it being anathema for tribal thinking people to admit the other tribe was right.

Libs said very early on that the virus is serious, lockdowns will be important despite economic damage, that masks should be worn, that everyone getting vaccinated is important etc. This has all proven true. And it is consequently very uncomfortable for Trumpers to admit.

The reason they can’t give you good answers is because they probably can’t admit even to themselves - let alone to you - their true motivation.

1918 pandemic flu was worse than Covid. But the world would be taking the same precautions we have for Covid if that ever recurred.

This raises the question of why we never felt it was worth doing anything more to save tens of thousands of people from dying of the flu every year.

The mild measures taken against flu permitted tens of thousands to die. The relatively extreme measures taken against COVID-19 have permitted several hundred thousand to die in the US alone - if those measures had not been taken, that number would have been massively higher. Quite possibly low millions.

So a fair comparison is tens of thousands vs a few million. Two orders of magnitude. That probably answers the question, does it not?

You’d think.

And the Chinese used even more draconian measures against Covid, and had far fewer deaths. So I guess you are right.

AIUI, over the past several decades “we” have in fact done a huge honking amount to reduce flu mortality.

Chief among these is the development of annual flu vaccines, which since at least 2010 have been officially recommended for all individuals except in the case of medical contraindications. Their effectiveness rate isn’t as high as the COVID vaccine’s, but they still substantially reduce the risk of contracting flu or getting severely sick or dying from it if you do contract it.

But about half the US population still doesn’t bother getting flu shots, although flu vaccination rates did increase somewhat last year (another factor in the 2020-21 decline in flu deaths).

So I think the answer to your question is that we do do quite a bit to reduce annual flu mortality. But just as in the case of COVID vaccination, the behavior of irresponsible and/or ignorant people who refuse to follow the medical recommendations that would massively improve our outcomes is hindering the efforts being made.

See my earlier post:

The level of precautions that does exist has led to the impact of the flu being contained to the point it has been “normalized” into social acceptance. Heck, with a lot of other cause-of-death issues even before CoVid, one very often saw “but the flu kills 30 to 60 thousand people a year” as a way to say, “this other thing you are worrying so much about is not that bad” as if that were just the natural baseline, without any apparent recognition that those numbers are after precautions.

Nitpicky, but it wasn’t liberals who said this. It was the entire establishment of scientists and other professionals who study this stuff their entire lives. They were then painted as liberals by the lunatic in the Oval Office and his millions of cultists who decided to make a political stunt out of killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

Well it was liberals who said those things but you are right that they were merely echoing what the experts said.

True, but I wonder what the mortality rate for Covid would have been if it had happened in 1919 with worse communication and much less understanding of epidemiology. Some places locked down in 1919 and did well - others, like Philadelphia, had business as usual and got hammered.
Covid would have been much worse in the US if large numbers of people couldn’t work from home.

Fewer old people, far fewer with pre-existing conditions, and a much higher mortality rate for infectious diseases generally. It might not have seemed such a big deal. 1918 flu was notable for killing young, healthy people.

Much much much worse. Remember the early days of the Pandemic the case fatality rate was something like 10%. A thread from that time.. Serious cases are still about 1/3 deaths.
In this era of global communications and coordination, effective management practices spread fast, if someone in Pittsburg discovers a way to reduce adverse outcomes, it will spread and be copied from Paris to Peshawar to Perth. More or less in real-time. In earlier Pandemics, people did find ways to manage the outbreak but these were randomly spread and uncoordinated. And of course we have far superior disease surveillance now. In many ways we have never been more ready to face a pandemic.
Covid is in the unfortunate sweet spot that it’s not mild enough to be ignored (like common flu) and not deadly enough that the sick remove themselves very quickly after infection from the society and it burns out. Like SARS and MERS.

The Spanish flu actually was not really much more deadly than normal flu, but the circumstances of the outbreak were such that it conincided with the demobilisation post WW1, so lots of sick soldiers were released into the community. Bad times.
Plus the death rate in the non-western world was appalling since most of it was ruled by European powers who DNGAF if nonwhites died.

The 1919 flu used your immune system against you, so the death rate was worse for young, healthy people as opposed to older people with weaker immune systems. That’s one reason why it initially spread through army camps.
My wife wrote a book on the flu which didn’t get published because the flu season that year was better than expected. (She did get paid.) Every silver cloud has a dark lining, you know.