Scott Latham, PhD Profile picture
Dec 30, 2021 17 tweets 4 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
It is fashionable to cast aspersions on the working class as as uneducated, ill informed group when looking at their behavior during COVID, e.g., vaccinations, masks. Yet, it has more to do with their lived experience relative to risk – thread – (1/x)…
Blue collar folks in the trades know risk, they live it every day. My family is from the trades - construction - where the occupational fatality rate is 40 per 100,000. I have friends in commercial fishing, the fatality rate is 132 per 100,000. (2/x)…
Let’s compare these numbers to the age adjusted 2020 COVID death rates - someone aged 25 – 44, had a COVID death rate of 5.5 to 15.8 per 100,000. I like those numbers versus getting up on a roof or going out 20 miles fishing. (3/x)…
Every day a blue collar professional goes up a ladder, puts on a toolbelt, or steps off a dock – they are at much greater risk of harm or death than if they get covid. They know that – they aren’t stupid, or ignorant. They see the risk firsthand, they live it, & accept it. (4/x)
It has nothing to do with rationality. Rational or irrational – doesn’t matter – we all have a different risk appetite that are shaped by our lived experiences and contexts. Not suggesting that blue collar workers review risk statistics – they aren’t actuaries. (5/x)
However, they do know what they do is dangerous – more dangerous than getting COVID. So when you tell these folks get vaccinated, or risk death. Such a contention is laughable given what they do on a day to day basis. (6/x)
In comparison, my professor colleagues to a large degree are petrified of catching and dying of COVID. I have colleagues locally in Boston that are so scared of COVID, they are retiring. Seems crazy, in a post vaccine environment with therapeutics (7/x)
However, when you look their day to day occupational risk, then it partially makes sense. The average professor has a fatal injury rate of .2 per 100,000. While the 2020 covid fatality rate for a 65 year old per 100,000 was about 250 per 100,00. (8/x)
The professor and the tradesman/woman have a greatly differential perspective on risk. They have experienced risk differently – so they live their lives differently across the spectrum. It has nothing to do with education, politics, or intelligence. (9/x)
It is simple to look down on the working class, the essential workers that have kept society going. It would be more beneficial if we understand why they make the decisions they do, and tailor policy to meet them where they are at – risk is a big part (10/10)
More broadly, this is not a small thing. Until we have a frank discussion of risk, we won’t get out of this mess. For example, our inability to assess risk has greatly affected children and schools. Risk is not a one size fits all dynamic (11/11)
A few comments – first, thanks for all the feedback – good and bad. I posted this a week ago, and it is still garnering attention. Quick comment, a week out - I come from a blue collar background – I feel more comfortable on a job site, than in a classroom now as a professor.
I have poured more forms, raised more walls, and hung more dry wall than I care to remember. My dad was in construction, my grandfather a machinist. I earned a phd, and I am professor, puts me in another universe from where I was raised.
When I go home, I often get made fun of (in a loving way) for having a Phd I just spent the semester observing COVID behavior of professors, then go home and see covid behavior from blue collar folks.
It’s different. My general premise was the risk varies across groups, and perhaps it varies across folks based on their work. Not saying I am right, but just throwing it out there.
Last thing, I get pissed off when people (way too often) are derogatory to blue collar workers – they are my family, & I see it a great deal. we should try to better understand folks that are different, whether it be class, race, religion, etc. Sadly saw some of it in this thread
One more thing - one of the funniest knocks was someone called me a JD Vance wanna be 😂😂😂

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More from @ScoLatham

Jan 6, 2022
Given the past few days' 'open schools' debate, I went back in my feed, & grabbed this Tweet from Dec 20' - retweeting - @bkhumberd @angrybklynmom @vlal42 @karenvaites were on this from beginning, and so many of us knew how disastrous closing schools would be for society. (1/x)
Apologize if I am missing anyone - a few points - I truly, can't believe we are still doing this - still opening and closing schools two years later - like they were Dunkin Donuts. People ask why I care so much about this issue, why I did 6 months after pandemic started (2/x)
I am a college professor and educator at a majority first generation university, I am 'downstream' from K - 12 public education. The tremendous disadvantage we have put on these children is unfathomable. No serious educator can deny this. (3/x)
Read 5 tweets
Dec 20, 2021
As a faculty member that has been on the front lines with struggling students this article infuriates me - absolutely infuriates me - the "kids are not all right" and I have been saying this for two years now. (1/x)… via @BostonGlobe
We have created a culture of isolation, snitching, and anxiety in a population of young adults that has done everything that has been asked of them, we have perverted what should be four of the best years of their life. You want to address mental health in #highered? (2/x)
Get back to normal. Why are they wearing masks still? Why are we banning get togethers? Why are we quarantining them? Why are we testing them to chase COVID? Why are we sending them home? Why are we making them feel guilty, making them scared? Two years in! (3/x)
Read 7 tweets
Sep 16, 2021
Let’s check in on college football opening weekend "super spreader events" Sept 2- 4 – now that we are 10 days out. These games were widely characterized as Sturgis without the motorcycles. Let's check in on -@virginia_tech @TAMU @UWMadison @UTKnoxville (1/x)
Well, @virginia_tech seems to have dodged the super spreader bullet – ten days removed, the positive test rate is the lowest it’s been in the past two weeks with same amount of tests.
Well the Badgers seem to be ok....
Read 7 tweets

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