Gordon Weil: People insist on believing untruths

An old tale, written by Hans Christian Andersen, tells the story of a foolish emperor who is swindled into believing that he wears the finest garment, visible only to the wise. But he really strides naked on parade. Nobody risks telling him they see nothing until an innocent child blurts out, “The Emperor has no clothes.”

That declaration has come to describe a clear fact that many people insistently get wrong. It means, “What you think is obviously incorrect. Here is the naked truth.”

Here are some of today’s naked truths.

Vaccination against Covid-19 works. Maine provides the best possible proof of that truth.

The counties with the lowest new case rates have the highest percentage of vaccinated people. Most people in counties that are now nearly the worst in the country have chosen not to get shots. They risk their own health and may spread the virus to others.

The term “herd immunity” was meant to convey the idea that, when only a few people remain unvaxed, the virus won’t easily spread. In the counties with high case rates, we can see the reverse – herd vulnerability.

Many possible explanations exist for abstaining including partisan politics and misinformation, intentional or not. It may be a matter of mindset. Health expert Dr. Dora Anne Mills has said, “We very strongly need people from conservative circles – religious, faith and business – to really stand up and promote vaccination.”

Here’s another truth that causes harm if ignored. Voting matters. And serious voting matters seriously.

On this truth, Maine takes comfort because it comes close to leading the country in voter participation. The U.S. in 2020 had a high rate of two-thirds of eligible voters; Maine had 76 percent participation. So what’s the problem?

Nationally, one-third of eligible voters did not vote. Joe Biden received 51.3 percent of the vote. That means the president was elected by one-third of the possible number of voters. While the high turnout may feel good, it’s important to look at those who did not vote. In effect, they “voted” for Biden by not voting for anybody else.

Voting in the 2020 elections influenced decisions on matters such as whose vote will count…