Translating Vaccine Resistance is a research and outreach project based on understanding, interacting with, and confronting the beliefs that perceive vaccines as inherently threatening.

Vaccine Hesitancy vs Vaccine Resistance

The reasons for choosing to not take a vaccine fall along a spectrum. Many people are hesitant to allow a newly developed vaccine to be injected into their bodies due to general health concerns such as the speed of the development process, worries about side effects, or lack of familiarity with the substances in the vaccine.

Many of these are concerns with safety and trust. People in this group fall under the category of ‘vaccine-hesitant’ and are responsive to information and transparency regarding vaccine development and results from trials. 

If you, or someone you know, are vaccine-hesitant and are looking for reputable information on vaccines and safety, check out our resource page.

Translating Vaccine Resistance focuses on when hesitancy starts to be replaced with more deeply entrenched feelings about the safety of vaccines.

From the outside looking in, strongly held vaccine-resistant beliefs can appear irrational. If you try to counter these beliefs with evidence from mainstream science, that evidence is often dismissed. Conversations about the subject can quickly turn to arguments. People holding these beliefs may appear to disregard concerns about the safety of others. And they may insist on bringing up the subject, even though it results in arguments and hurt feelings. 

Many people are losing family members and friends because of the chasm created by these beliefs.

Understanding the Internal Landscape

Translating Vaccine Resistance is based on my ongoing research about how certain types of misinformation hack our innate attachment system and undermine our sense of trust in the world, closing us off to contradictory information.

One outcome of this research is a model of an individual’s internal emotional structure. That structure supports outward beliefs such as those opposing vaccines, but also many other outward beliefs that fall into the category of ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘fringe’ beliefs. 

brain lock*

I have laid out the results of my research in a series of videos to help anyone who is seeking a more meaningful way to interact with people holding these beliefs.

The model provides:

  • Understanding about why someone would hold these beliefs in the first place, and
  • Guidance on how to respond.

Based on theories from evolutionary biology, developmental neuroscience, and the psychology of trauma, the model involves a description of the emotional environment that an individual is in, which is critical to understanding how otherwise incomprehensible beliefs come to be embraced.