'Hive mentality' surrounds pandemic views, thinking

'Hive mentality' surrounds pandemic views, thinking

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There is a hive mentality surrounding the pandemic. Instead of looking to public health officials for medical information, people are looking to politicians.

That’s what Christopher Stout, an associated professor of political science at Oregon State University, said. Stout said a vaccine mandate may harden people who were already skeptical but it’s unlikely to change someone’s mind at this point.

Franklin Templeton surveyed 35,000 Americans and found both sides of the political aisle have misconceptions about the pandemic. Stout said Republicans consistently underestimate risks while Democrats consistently overestimate risks.

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Even though this is not the first pandemic the US has gone through, Stout said the fact the citizenry is polarized makes things more difficult.

“One of the things, I think, that’s surprising is people’s reactions to the vaccines are driven by the party that you’re in,” he told KOIN 6 News. “So people are looking to their elected officials to make opinions about any particular thing moreso than looking to public health experts.”

Opposing beliefs, he added, just breen more polarization.

Stout also agrees that legal challenges to the vaccine mandates aren’t likely to succeed. But these legal challenges pose their own issues.

“Let’s say there was more controversy and the courts were all making different decisions. And because there’s so many different cases, courts making these decisions, and that’s something that’s going to spark the interest of not all the state Supreme Court, but then the Federal Supreme Court,” he said. “So the more cases, I guess, hypothetically, the more likely there would be disagreement, which then could raise the profile of the case.”

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