Fear

Analysis of herd immunity using the Sorites Paradox

[See supplemental article Covid-19, herd immunity and common sense]

When the subject of vaccination1 is discussed within a group (e.g. online forum), and there are some within that group who are pro-vaccination, almost invariably they will at some point raise the issue of herd immunity.

First let's clarify what is meant by "herd immunity"1
. From Wikipedia2 this:

"Herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) is a form of indirect protection from infectious disease that occurs when a large percentage of a population has become immune to an infection, thereby providing a measure of protection for individuals who are not immune".

There are, it seems to me, a number of aspects to this subject that need clarification:

The danger in "being offended"

There is, in my opinion, a troubling trend in our modern societies, when people respond with "I find that offensive".

In basic terms to take offense is to blame others for how one feels. That is, when we take offense for the emotional responses we have chosen (in response to a stimulus, e.g. insult) we place the responsibility for our choice of emotional state with someone else. As Viktor Frankl so succinctly explained "the last of human freedoms (is) the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances".

The subtext of 'being offended'

In recent times I've observed a growing trend for people (e.g. in online forums) to write "I find that offensive" in response to someone's ideas or opinions.

So I penned a few words and submitted them to an online forum.

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In my experience, online forums are relatively feckless forms of communication, in that they lack the immediacy of face-to-face interactions. Venues at which people get to meet and really dig deep (e.g. via Bohmian/OpenSpace/World-Cafe style groups) can be extraordinary experiences.

The modern superstitions of science and religion

Background

Modern science is still almost entirely based on 17th century concepts that physical movement is perfectly smooth and continuous.

This continuity of movement implies continuity of operation (of the world we experience) which naturally induced the perception that our universe (and our bodies) operated like a clockwork machine. This machine-world view was the impetus for the Industrial Revolution which resulted in many beneficial technologies (aircraft, automobiles, etc).

Around 200 years after Newton developed the calculus (which is based on the assumption of perfect continuity), the continuous-machine model was not able to explain a growing number of puzzling experimental results1 especially those concerning the presumed wave-like behaviour of light.

In the minutia of physical movement, movement is not continuous, nor clockwork in nature, nor predictable, nor certain ...nor physical in nature, but meta-physical.

In 1905 Albert Einstein resolved the mismatch of clockwork theory with actual experiment with his photo-electric effect for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics. Light came in "lumps" or particles of energy, and these particles, what we call "photons", were not continuous.

This "quantum" view of light gave rise to a burst of discoveries2, leading to what is now accepted as being, by far, "the most successful physical theory in history"3 : quantum theory.

Physicists quipped that quantum physics was all about "lumps and jumps" - lumps of light that "jump" from location to location without travelling the intervening space.

As one leading physicist explained, "according to the quantum theory, movement is not4 fundamentally continuous".

However, our sciences are still working on the assumption of clockwork continuity, which works well enough for rockets, rifles and railways.

Medical science, for example, still seeks to find the static machine-parts (genes) responsible for our personal behaviours, despite the evidence for nonlocal, interconnecting fields of quantum potentials that would, if researched, open whole new avenues for healing and wellbeing.

In the minutia of physical movement including when we so much as lift a finger, movement is not continuous, nor clockwork in nature, nor predictable, nor certain ... nor physical in nature, but meta-physical.

Yet our sciences carry on, as if movement was continuous and purely physical. The bulk of modern science is reliant on 17th century assumptions that are incompatible with world's most successful physical theory. The scientific method calls for theories to be discarded or modified when faced with evidence that is unable to be accommodated within the scope of a particular theory. This is how science advances. The geocentric model (Earth as centre of the universe) was ultimately replaced by the heliocentric model (Earth orbiting the Sun) because of the weight of evidence for the heliocentric model.

The intransigence to upgrade science's mechanical-universe model with one that is compatible with the quantum evidence is, like the behaviour of priests in Galileo's time, the hallmark of dogma, superstition and greed. That failure (to accommodate the facts within a congruent world-view) is a travesty of modern science.

In brief:

Standard5 modern science is still almost entirely based on 17th century concepts that physical movement is perfectly smooth and continuous (comprising an infinite-series6 of ever-so-small "infinitesimal" movements).

There are no bodily processes (chemical, electrical or otherwise) that can move anything infinitely ("infinite" literally means without end). Accordingly, physical movement is theoretically impossible when based on standard science's Newtonian (17th century) "assumptions". Given that physical movement is a routine aspect of everyday life, the root assumptions of standard science are clearly and unambiguously wrong.

Instead of applying 17th century thinking to our 21st century world, a new holodynamic world-view that matches the (quantum) evidence is, arguably, long overdue.

Detail:

Superstition - "a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation."

While sharing various ideas on a forum recently, it became evident there are many people (including and especially atheists, scientists and the religious) who still very deeply rely on superstitious beliefs.

And by "superstitious" beliefs, none are more evident than when the topic of Zeno's Paradoxes is considered.

To put things in context:

Imagine we have a number of belief-systems, let's call them BS1 and BS2. Let's now see how well they match a particular set of evidence (facts and observations, as can be readily experienced on planet Earth).

Rest-stops in the sky

[update, October, 2016: see below]

Over the years I've come to more fully appreciate the extent to which many people seek refuge in illusory ideals ... be it religious perfection, or scientific certainty.

As I've explained elsewhere on this and the Belief Institute website, the ideal of perfection (and of perfect scientific certainty) was born around the time of Plato, and has persisted ever since. In spiritual new-age teachings and practices, it's the seeking of spiritual perfection — of transcending one's ego and finding one's perfect higher self1; in religion it's the perfection of God and of the Pope's infallibility; in science it is the certainty and control of life expressed through some equation or theory, perhaps most tellingly exemplified by the incorrect and unsupportable assumptions surrounding the solutions to Zeno's Paradoxes that date back nearly 2,500 years.