Philosophy Professor Makes Headlines on Pandemic Fears

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Prof. Maya Goldenberg

Prof. Maya Goldenberg

Prof. Maya Goldenberg, Department of Philosophy, has spoken to several news outlets about public fears over vaccines and what motivates anti-mask protesters.

Goldenberg studies why some people become wary of medicine or science.

Speaking to the National Post about why so many have chosen to launch campaigns against mask-wearing, she said many see the masks as a symbol of a larger uncertainty “of what the pandemic will do to us” in the long term.

“It becomes a thing to invest energy in, as a way to broadcast a sort of general discontent about how things are and how they might go,” she said.

Speaking to Medium’s Elemental, Goldenberg discussed why it’s okay to be wary of any COVID-19 vaccine and to question its safety, noting that many will rightly be nervous if public health officials push vaccination with a fast-tracked vaccine.

“The extent to which people trust vaccines is going to depend on the extent to which they trust the system that supports vaccines,” she said.

Goldenberg also recently spoke to University Affairs for an article examining how trust in public officials has changed as the pandemic has evolved, pointing to the flip-flopping messaging on masks.

She suggested public health officials should be honest when there is a shortage of evidence on such questions as the efficacy of mask-wearing, noting people lose trust in officials when they sense they are overstating safety or risk.

Goldenberg has offered her expertise to several media outlets in recent weeks.