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Rapper Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend developed swollen testicles after getting vaccinated for COVID-19, we are told. Thus, Minaj weighs a confusing equivalence. In deciding whether to get vaccinated, does she go with the vast body of research done by medical professionals, or with her cousin’s friend’s story? She will get the vaccine, she said, “once I feel I’ve done enough research.”

For many folks like Minaj, vaccine hesitancy can be traced to internet quacks and to talkers like Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who advises us, “Do your own research.” His implicit message is, “Don’t believe the experts,” because experts are a bunch of Biden-supporting communistic liberals who twice impeached President Donald Trump.

Similarly, Fox’s Tucker Carlson told his viewers that “the most powerful people in America [have] worked to make certain that no one could criticize [the vaccines].” He, thus, raises destructive concerns about the vaccines and then demands that officials, “answer the questions!” As Alex Shepherd, of The New Republic, put it, for Carlson, the vaccine is a metaphor for the creeping overreach of Democrat elites.

Nevertheless, those whose phony detectors are in good working order are wondering why Hannity and Carlson are reluctant to admit that they have been vaccinated, given that it’s required at Fox.

Getting back to Minaj, what convoluted stew is likely to emerge from her “research”? She might as well say that she will not ride in an automobile until she has researched the engineering dynamics of the wheel. Moreover, her anecdote about swollen testicles is useless as evidence, because we have no way of knowing whether they got that way from the vaccine (highly doubtful, because doctors say there is no connection between vaccines and that organ system) or from a disease or an injury or from something else. In fact, we don’t even know whether the reported swelling exists or whether the fellow really was vaccinated.

Fortunately, the vaccine feasibility research on the family of COVID-19 viruses has been carried out by the one-tenth of 1% of us who are scientists employed at prestigious labs, universities and hospitals. The rest of us, like Nicki Minaj, are not researchers.

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However, if, like Nicki Minaj, you want to research vaccines, you can do what the actual researchers do. Begin by recruiting about 40,000 volunteer subjects. Then, randomly assign them to one of two groups, those who will get the vaccine and those who will be given a placebo. Over the next few months, test all of them frequently for COVID-19. Ultimately, you will be able to calculate the percentage of subjects in each group who came down with COVID-19, and your research is done.

Conversely, if that seems too much to undertake, you could instead become a good consumer of research that has been done by the experts. And you can respectfully decline to be motivated by anecdotes, whether about testicles or anything else.

Also, you can rely only on those with medical and scientific credentials, especially those who have published their research in respected medical journals. And you can ignore impassioned talk by those with religious or political biases, like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and the unfortunate folks below.

  • Anti-vaxxer Bob Enyart hosted the ironically named “Real Science Radio” in Denver. He called himself a “right-wing, religious fanatic, homophobic, anti-choice talk show host.” You might think that so much bile would, by itself, have killed off a virus. But it didn’t. Enyart was hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sept. 10 and died four days later.
  • Radio host Dick Farrell had termed vaccines “bogus.” Friends say that, just days before he died of COVID-19, he urged them to get vaccinated.
  • Tennessee radio talker Phil Valentine also refused vaccination. He confidently told his audience that his chances of dying from COVID-19 were “way less than 1%.” He tested positive on July 11 and died six weeks later.
  • Marc Bernier, a Florida radio host, adamantly said of the vaccine, “I’m not taking it.” Listening along with his usual audience was COVID-19, which stealthily entered his body and quickly stole his life.
  • Elsewhere in Florida, nationally syndicated Christian preacher and host of “Prophecy Today” Jimmy DeYoung seemed to agree with a guest who claimed that the vaccines “wouldn’t deliver on the promises of national leaders.” DeYoung suggested that vaccines are a “form of government control.” DeYoung is dead, of COVID-19.

The virus doesn’t care about your religion or your politics or your cousin’s friend’s swelling or the misleading viewpoints espoused by media talkers who hope to maintain their ratings by spreading falsehoods that are meant to keep you angry and paranoid about nonexistent government plots. Be a smart consumer of research that is done by experts.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University. Reach him at wyatt@marshall.edu.

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