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Charlie’s Egg And The Vaccine Resistance

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In his classic 1995 Harvard presentation, “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment,” Charlie Munger introduced this brilliant analogy:

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“The human mind is a lot like the human egg. And the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it [the egg] shuts down so the next one can’t get in. The human mind has a big tendency of the same sort.”

As every publicist knows, the first to “break” a story has credibility regardless of veracity.

Likewise, street wisdom teaches: the first to call the cops gets cred, even if the caller blames their victim.

Perforce it takes more energy to uproot an established idea than to plant it.

As Mark Twain said:

“It is far easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.”

To admit you have been fooled requires two painful admissions, tougher than two tooth extractions:

  1. “I was wrong.”
  2. “I was taken in.”

How often have you heard either from anyone, anywhere, anytime?

How can I, as a practicing physician, albeit a psychiatrist, encourage the recalcitrant unvaccinated to consult their physician regarding vaccination when they ask:

"Are you taking it?

I’m not taking it!"

Four Prescriptions from Charlie Munger

Like everyone else vaccine resisters take pride in their ideas.

Whether it’s the wisdom of caution (“It just came out!”);

Youth or strength (“Ah, it’s like the flu!”);

Or dogged American independence, right off a Revolutionary War flag (“Don’t tread on me!”).

Charlie Munger has four prescriptions for overvalued ideas:

  • “A year that you don’t destroy one of your best-loved ideas is probably a wasted year.”

If you love the idea of not being vaccinated, destroy that best-loved idea this year.

Most COVID hospital admissions are unvaccinated.

And for gamblers and believers in luck (“Not me. I never get sick!”), Charlie has advice from his days in the military:

  • “Life in part is like a poker game, wherein you have to learn to quit sometimes when holding a much loved hand.”

In a pandemic luck favors the vaccinated. Here’s a chance to make your own luck!

And from one of the greatest scientists in history, his namesake, Charles Darwin, Charlie has derived this principle of clear thinking:

3) “He [Darwin] always gave priority attention to evidence tending to disconfirm whatever cherished and hard-won theory he already had.”

Said again in cracker barrel Charlie:

“I know I’ll perform better if I rub my nose in my mistakes. This is a wonderful trick to learn.”

Vaccination resistance is just such a mistake.

4)”Simplicity has a way of improving performance through enabling us to better understand what we are doing.”

Everybody makes it complicated when, as Charlie often says:

“It’s so simple!”

Consult your physician regarding vaccination.


About the Author

Mark Tobak, MD, is a general adult psychiatrist in private practice. He is the former chief of inpatient geriatric psychiatry and now an attending physician at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Harrison, NY. He graduated the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Columbia University School of General Studies. Dr. Tobak also has a law degree from Fordham University School of Law and was admitted to the NY State Bar. His work appears in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Psychiatric Times, and American Journal of Medicine and Pathology. He is the author of Anyone Can Be Rich! A Psychiatrist Provides the Mental Tools to Build Your Wealth, which received high praise from Warren Buffett.