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Ivermectin & Epistemology

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Americans who have decided to forgo vaccination have been hard hit by COVID. In response, some have been self-medicating with ivermectin. While this drug is best known as a horse de-wormer, the same drug is also used to treat humans for a variety of conditions. And, of course, many medications are used to treat conditions they were not originally intended to treat. Viagra is a famous example of this. As such, the idea of re-purposing a medication is not foolish. But there are obvious problems with taking ivermectin to treat COVID. The most obvious one is that there is not a good reason to believe that the drug is effective; people would be better off seeking established treatment. Another problem is the matter of dosing—the drug has the potential for serious side-effects even at the correct dosage. Since I am not a medical doctor, my main concern is not with the medical aspects of the drug, but with the epistemology. That is, I am interested in why people believe they should take the drug. Though the analysis will focus on ivermectin, the same mechanisms work broadly in belief formation. Those most likely to use the drug are people in areas hit hard by COVID and subject to anti-vaccine and anti-mask messages from politicians and pundits. These two factors are related: when people do not get vaccinated and do not take precautions against infection, then they are more likely to get infected. This is why there is such a clear correlation between COVID infection rates and the level of Trump support in an area. Crudely put, we are now in what could be justly called the Republican Pandemic. As I discussed in previous essays, the trend in Republican political thought is authoritarianism and the rejection of expertise. There is also a clear desire to “own the libs” by rejecting their beliefs and doing things to make liberals mad. Liberals want people to get vaccinated and wear masks, so “owning the libs” here puts a person at greater risk for COVID. Once a person gets. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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