So I'm halfway through Johnathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind. I'm not done with it and I'm already recommending it, which is rare. I suspect it's going to be one of those books I finish as an audiobook and then reread on paper, which puts it in rarified company that can be counted on one hand.
Haidt's whole thing is Moral Foundations Theory, which is basically Hume, modernized. He's got a couple bits of really nasty experimental data:
1) Humans do not rationalize first, then form emotions. They shoot from the hip/gut and then ex-post-facto rationalize everything.
2) Western Educated Industrial Rich Democrats (WEIRDs) are a minority, morally speaking. That our traditions are the ones that point back to the Renaissance just makes everyone else feel left out and mad.
3) Experimentally, moral decisions lie along five moral foundations - Harm, Fairness, Authority, In-group and Purity. Unless you're WEIRD, in which case moral decisions lie along two.
Yeah - the intellectual tradition of the West is (1) does it harm other people? (2) is it fair? while everyone else (including Western conservatives) add in (3) does it respect authority? (4) Does it support your in-group? (5) Does it defile yourself? The example Haidt uses is liberals can basically taste sweet and salty while the rest of the world has sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. And if you can't see the difference between the saltiness of potato chips and the saltiness of miso, fans of miso are never going to listen to you.
So. Vaccines and masks:
1) Does not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated harm other peoples? Yes... abstractly. BUT
2) Does not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated preserve fairness? Yes... concretely. BUT
3) Does not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated respect authority? Yes - of the government but NO - not of the church in some cases.
4) Does not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated support your in-group? HELL YES.
5) Does not wearing a mask or getting vaccinated defile yourself? HELL YES.
The minute the in-group aligned around "let's not get vaccinated" the out-group (pinko liberal elitist bastards) didn't have a hope in hell of rationalizing them into it. Once masking became a political issue it was never not going to be a political issue.
It all boils down to "you can't tell me what to do" and "if you're trying to tell me to do what I don't want to do, you aren't human."
The only hope I think we have? Is that all this popped up real quickly, and there's nothing long-term cultural propping it up. There is no unifying force to build on it. But I don't know how long until it burns out.