Pseudo sciences?

| Lisa Waldera

Lisa Waldera (25) is a master’s student Communication Studies from Bremen, Germany. For three years now, she’s been living on campus. Next to her study, she regularly visits the cinema and enjoys concerts of all music genres. Every other week she writes about her life at the University of Twente.

Photo by: Annabel Jeuring

Yesterday morning, I opened my Facebook app. As usual, I started scrolling through the latest news when something very interesting popped up. From 10am, people born in 1995 could book appointments for their vaccinations. For the first time, it paid off to be already ‘older’ during my study. But at the same time, I started to feel anxious. Is the corona crisis really going to be over? How will I feel after the vaccination? Despite all the positive stories of vaccinated people around me, I think about the few people who actually became sick. I think about the news articles that report heart muscle complications in young people after the vaccination. I suddenly realize how I am affected by the information spread about the vaccinations and how negative my image of them has become.

After studying psychology and communication studies, I should know how influenceable we are. That the way information is presented can have a bigger impact than the message itself. During the crisis, it became noticeable how important communication is. I often feel that people at the UT smirk at me because I study social sciences instead of natural sciences. Pseudo sciences without any needed math and programming skills. I remember being in a group project with people from different study programmes. I handed in the part of the group report that was discussing applicable psychological theories because it was my field of study. In the end, we received a nine for this part but everyone was convinced that I only had to read a few articles online in order to write it. Could have been done by anyone with some spare time.

But most students drop out of these studies because of the extensive number of methodology lessons. Even coding skills were taught during my Bachelor. I agree that the humanities are not as heavily based on formulas and binary coding. But neither are humans. Theories describing the working of the human mind and behaviors have to be as complex and nuanced as the subject.

During this crisis, it became obvious that we need people who are taught to think about the human. Infographics can present the most interesting facts but they are worthless if they are not understood by the reader. Vaccinations can have the greatest effects but are worthless if misunderstood and feared by people. Fears that also affect me now that I have my appointment. The only difference is that I can read the statistics that show how small the chances for complications are. I know that my fears are simply a mechanism of self-defense to protect me from possible danger. Rational or irrational. Hopefully, the social sciences will not be seen as merely trendy after this crisis, but will be considered as valuable as they are when dealing with the complexity of the human mind. As easy as it may seem to convey a message, the vaccination campaigns demonstrate the opposite.

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