Clinging to the Science

 

When we say “science,” we are talking about a particular process used to answer a certain class of questions. The scientific method is formidable: we know of no more effective technique for understanding the natural world. The successes of science are countless and impressive, and provide incalculable benefit to mankind.

Prepending the definite article gives us “the science,” which refers to the products, the answers, obtained by the application of the methods of scientific pursuit.

But not all questions are scientific questions, and so amenable to solution via the scientific method.

What is the value to a grown daughter of being by her mother’s side for the last hours of her life? What is the value to a husband and wife of saving the family business into which they’ve poured years of their lives and all of their savings and credit? What is the value to a high school senior of securing a soccer scholarship to a college she couldn’t otherwise attend? What is the value of a job to a single mother with two young children, or to a husband responsible for a family of four? What is the value to a free citizen of being able to decide for himself whom he will invite to dinner and how long they will sit and talk?

What is the value in sparing tens of thousands from depression, addiction, and despair by allowing them to continue living their lives as best they can?

And what is the value in knowing that none of those things can be taken from us, from an American, without clear, concrete, sound rationale – in knowing that we are not subject to the whims of mediocre people driven by petty motives of personal advantage or by an unhealthy obsession with safety over other considerations at least as important?

As we seek answers to those questions, science can provide some inputs. But science can’t answer those questions, and people who think that “the science” is the most important consideration are blinkered fools. Expertise too often brings with it a form of provincialism, a narrow-minded obsession with the domain of expertise, and a consequent denigration of the vastly greater number of things that fall outside of it.

People who invoke “the science,” as if “the science” were sufficient to explain the various decrees and restrictions imposed in response to the Wuhan coronavirus, are clinging to the science. They’re clinging to the one thing about which they’re confident, the easy thing, the knowable thing, hoping or believing that that’s enough to justify the vast rippling chaos these policies are unleashing upon billions of people.

But science isn’t a priesthood. It’s a way of answering a narrow range of easy questions, completely inadequate to address the real-life issues most of us face on a daily basis. Today those issues are being decided for us by men and women who don’t understand the harm they are doing with their policies, nor care about them, but who are secure in their faith that “the science” absolves them from question or criticism.

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  1. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Spot on.  And let’s add that “the science” on this pandemic is still undergoing scientific investigation and is, therefore, constantly changing as we learn and apply and learn and apply and discover and repeat all in a feedback loop.  As a scientist who has been working with it since March, I can’t say any more than we’re learning as we go along.  No such thing as settled science.  Those who claim there is are making a religious claim for scientism.

    • #1
  2. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Spot on. And let’s add that “the science” on this pandemic is still undergoing scientific investigation and is, therefore, constantly changing as we learn and apply and learn and apply and discover and repeat all in a feedback loop. As a scientist who has been working with it since March, I can’t say any more than we’re learning as we go along. No such thing as settled science. Those who claim there is are making a religious claim for scientism.

    Indeed. And a friend privately messaged me a quotation from Jay Bhattacharya’s recent Imprimis article (which I haven’t read or verified):

    Science ought to be able to clarify the answers. But science can’t do its job in an environment where anyone who challenges the status quo gets shut down or cancelled.

    • #2
  3. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Your post reminded me of a long-ago Jay Nordlinger Davos column wherein he ranted about Al Gore:

    But bless [Gore] not for this: He says “the science” a lot, as in, “what the science tells us,” “ignoring the science,” “believing the science,” and so on. This is a fantastically annoying, and arrogant, habit (especially when scientists disagree). My wish for Gore is twofold: that he stop saying “the science” and that he stop calling those who disagree with him “deniers.” If he accomplished those two things, he would be far less hard to listen to.

    • #3
  4. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Science alone shouldn’t dictate public policy

    Epidemiology is more statistics than science.

    Climate change is the same – computer models not scientific method

     

    • #4
  5. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Good point, Hank.

    I would go you one further.  Reason cannot answer those questions, either.  It can guide our consideration, to some extent, but it cannot tell us what to value, or how to decide between competing virtues.

    • #5
  6. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn
    @Caryn

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Spot on. And let’s add that “the science” on this pandemic is still undergoing scientific investigation and is, therefore, constantly changing as we learn and apply and learn and apply and discover and repeat all in a feedback loop. As a scientist who has been working with it since March, I can’t say any more than we’re learning as we go along. No such thing as settled science. Those who claim there is are making a religious claim for scientism.

    Indeed. And a friend privately messaged me a quotation from Jay Bhattacharya’s recent Imprimis article (which I haven’t read or verified):

    Science ought to be able to clarify the answers. But science can’t do its job in an environment where anyone who challenges the status quo gets shut down or cancelled.

    Indeed.  I read that very article today.  Science also can’t do its job when the subject has been so thoroughly politicized that it is impossible to know if reported data are clean.  Despite working in the field and reading and listening closely, the only data I have complete confidence in are those generated in our lab.  I consider everything else suspect because everyone seems to have an agenda.  I really don’t know how infectious the virus is, whether masks help or not, whether hydroxychloroquine works against it, how good any of the rapid tests are (whether virus, antigen, or antibody), and how helpful the vaccine will be.  Everyone–and I include Jay B–seems to have something to sell or someone to undermine or promote.

    • #6
  7. DonG (Biden is compromised) Coolidge
    DonG (Biden is compromised)
    @DonG

    The the followers of the cult of Leftism, when they say “the science” they mean “the narrative”. 

    When Americans work productively, people in the poor countries get to eat.  When Americans don’t work, the poorest in the world suffer.  Choices have been made all year and millions have suffered, while the people doing the choosing have prospered. 

    • #7
  8. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Henry Racette: Today those issues are being decided for us by men and woman who don’t understand the harm they are doing with their policies, nor care about them, but who are secure in their faith that “the science” absolves them from question or criticism.

    And if the few egregious examples that have been reported are representative, those who make the rules know they’re ineffective and pointless and that’s why they so happily break them.

    • #8
  9. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Flicker (View Comment):
    And if the few egregious examples that have been reported are representative, those who make the rules know they’re ineffective and pointless and that’s why they so happily break them.

    None of the people calling for lockdowns have missed a single paycheck.

    • #9
  10. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good point, Hank.

    I would go you one further. Reason cannot answer those questions, either. It can guide our consideration, to some extent, but it cannot tell us what to value, or how to decide between competing virtues.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr: The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience

     

    • #10
  11. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Science is not the problem.  

    The problem is ‘scientists’ or self proclaimed experts.

     

    • #11
  12. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Spot on. And let’s add that “the science” on this pandemic is still undergoing scientific investigation and is, therefore, constantly changing as we learn and apply and learn and apply and discover and repeat all in a feedback loop. As a scientist who has been working with it since March, I can’t say any more than we’re learning as we go along. No such thing as settled science. Those who claim there is are making a religious claim for scientism.

    Covid and climate change follow the same playbook

     

    • #12
  13. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Spot on. And let’s add that “the science” on this pandemic is still undergoing scientific investigation and is, therefore, constantly changing as we learn and apply and learn and apply and discover and repeat all in a feedback loop. As a scientist who has been working with it since March, I can’t say any more than we’re learning as we go along. No such thing as settled science. Those who claim there is are making a religious claim for scientism.

    Indeed. And a friend privately messaged me a quotation from Jay Bhattacharya’s recent Imprimis article (which I haven’t read or verified):

    Science ought to be able to clarify the answers. But science can’t do its job in an environment where anyone who challenges the status quo gets shut down or cancelled.

    Indeed. I read that very article today. Science also can’t do its job when the subject has been so thoroughly politicized that it is impossible to know if reported data are clean. Despite working in the field and reading and listening closely, the only data I have complete confidence in are those generated in our lab. I consider everything else suspect because everyone seems to have an agenda. I really don’t know how infectious the virus is, whether masks help or not, whether hydroxychloroquine works against it, how good any of the rapid tests are (whether virus, antigen, or antibody), and how helpful the vaccine will be. Everyone–and I include Jay B–seems to have something to sell or someone to undermine or promote.

    Having something to sell or promote or undermine is ok as long as everyone can express their opinions.

    What is not ok is censorship

     

    • #13
  14. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):
    And if the few egregious examples that have been reported are representative, those who make the rules know they’re ineffective and pointless and that’s why they so happily break them.

    None of the people calling for lockdowns have missed a single paycheck.

    Bingo

    Mystery solved

     

    • #14
  15. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Your post reminded me of a long-ago Jay Nordlinger Davos column wherein he ranted about Al Gore:

    But bless [Gore] not for this: He says “the science” a lot, as in, “what the science tells us,” “ignoring the science,” “believing the science,” and so on. This is a fantastically annoying, and arrogant, habit (especially when scientists disagree). My wish for Gore is twofold: that he stop saying “the science” and that he stop calling those who disagree with him “deniers.” If he accomplished those two things, he would be far less hard to listen to.

    Al Gore is the paragon of insufferability

    One of them

     

    • #15
  16. MISTER BITCOIN Member
    MISTER BITCOIN
    @MISTERBITCOIN

    One of the worst things during this ‘pandemic’ is censorship.

    Freedom in the marketplace for ideas is just as important as freedom in the marketplace for goods and services.

    I bet the most credible scientists are either apolitical or libertarian

     

    • #16
  17. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Good point, Hank.

    I would go you one further. Reason cannot answer those questions, either. It can guide our consideration, to some extent, but it cannot tell us what to value, or how to decide between competing virtues.

    Several years ago one of those celebrity “scientists” advocated having “science” decide everything and tell us ignorant people what to do. Part of his thesis was that not only are people ignorant, they often are not completely rational in their decision making.  I recall ranting at the time that even the simplest of decisions involve value judgments that science and reason cannot fully incorporate. 

    In one of the examples @henryracette mentions, my wife’s mother is currently on her deathbed, and the value of a daughter’s presence is very different among the four daughters. Personality differences and different histories give each daughter a different value to their mother at this time. 

    • #17
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    People tend to cling to the science that provides the results they already believe in.  One of the hallmarks of science is the ability to challenge results and provide evidence that supports said challenge.  Whenever someone screams at opponents, calls them names, and uses intimidation to support their “scientific” beliefs, you can rest assured they worry their beliefs will be proven false.

    • #18
  19. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    Henry Racette:… ….  the whims of mediocre people driven by petty motives of personal advantage or by an unhealthy obsession with safety over other considerations at least as important? ….. Today those issues are being decided for us by men and woman who don’t understand the harm they are doing with their policies, nor care about them, but who are secure in their faith that “the science” absolves them from question or criticism.

    I am sympathetic to a lot of what you are saying, but these are cheap shots.  Just demagoguery –  no better and no more helpful to the quality of our political discourse than the way the leftists declare the leaders on the right racist, money obsessed, tools of imperialist industry.

    If you were there when these “mediocre people driven by petty motives of personal advantage” were making these decisions, and you have evidence of their motive, then why not say so?  Name them.  That’s a horrible thing to do to their fellow human beings. So name them.

    But you don’t have any of that inside knowledge, do you?  Is it that you just disagree with their decisions and to help stir up outrage against them, you need to discredit their motives so people will get mad and be motivated to do something about it?  Its not enough to disagree, but they must be angry?  You want them to see evil, not just poor leadership, because that helps sell the point.  Is this what you’re doing, or do you know something that you aren’t saying?  If so, which governors, which mayors, which leaders are so evil?

    I wouldn’t trade places with any governor for anything right now.  What’s it like? You’re hearing from your hospital administrators that they are almost full and strained to limit.  You have nightmares about being the next Italy or New York.  You’re hearing from doctors about surges in cases and surges in deaths, and you’re hearing from people who are anguished over losing relatives.  And you’re hearing from others who are going to suffer under the lockdowns – the job loss, the mental health problems, business leaders on the verge of panic, all of that.  Your state is facing massive budgets cuts because of lost revenue – not just because of the lockdown orders but also because people are genuinely afraid of the virus and are acting accordingly.  And you’ve got to somehow balance all that out and make some kind of wise decision.

    And then you have internet warriors declaring that you are petty and you don’t care.  And, driven, in part by that kind of rhetoric, there have been armed protests at governor’s houses, kidnapping plots actually being carried out.  Mad about a few hypocrites like Newsome?  Fine.  He deserves the criticism.  But be precise.  That’s not the case everywhere and it’s dangerous to paint them all the same color.

    We need better discourse. 

     

     

    • #19
  20. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):

    Henry Racette:… …. the whims of mediocre people driven by petty motives of personal advantage or by an unhealthy obsession with safety over other considerations at least as important? ….. Today those issues are being decided for us by men and woman who don’t understand the harm they are doing with their policies, nor care about them, but who are secure in their faith that “the science” absolves them from question or criticism.

    I am sympathetic to a lot of what you are saying, but these are cheap shots. Just demagoguery – no better and no more helpful to the quality of our political discourse than the way the leftists declare the leaders on the right racist, money obsessed, tools of imperialist industry.

    If you were there when these “mediocre people driven by petty motives of personal advantage” were making these decisions, and you have evidence of their motive, then why not say so? Name them. That’s a horrible thing to do to their fellow human beings. So name them.

    But you don’t have any of that inside knowledge, do you? Is it that you just disagree with their decisions and to help stir up outrage against them, you need to discredit their motives so people will get mad and be motivated to do something about it? Its not enough to disagree, but they must be angry? You want them to see evil, not just poor leadership, because that helps sell the point. Is this what you’re doing, or do you know something that you aren’t saying? If so, which governors, which mayors, which leaders are so evil?

    I wouldn’t trade places with any governor for anything right now. What’s it like? You’re hearing from your hospital administrators that they are almost full and strained to limit. You have nightmares about being the next Italy or New York. You’re hearing from doctors about surges in cases and surges in deaths, and you’re hearing from people who are anguished over losing relatives. And you’re hearing from others who are going to suffer under the lockdowns – the job loss, the mental health problems, business leaders on the verge of panic, all of that. Your state is facing massive budgets cuts because of lost revenue – not just because of the lockdown orders but also because people are genuinely afraid of the virus and are acting accordingly. And you’ve got to somehow balance all that out and make some kind of wise decision.

    And then you have internet warriors declaring that you are petty and you don’t care. And, driven, in part by that kind of rhetoric, there have been armed protests at governor’s houses, kidnapping plots actually being carried out. Mad about a few hypocrites like Newsome? Fine. He deserves the criticism. But be precise. That’s not the case everywhere and it’s dangerous to paint them all the same color.

    We need better discourse.

    DAV, in your enthusiastic defense of the poor downtrodden public servants who have commanded millions of Americans to shutter their livelihoods and huddle in their homes in the name of “science,” you mischaracterize my post.

    Your comment is 80% as long as my original post, and yet focuses on only a couple of sentences which you feel condemns too many public servants without adequate evidence. There’s some justification in that criticism, I’m sure, though I note that your defense is similarly lacking evidence: this is basically two guys expressing their opinions about the nobility or lack thereof of the average Governor, a subject about which we obviously disagree.

    But the bulk of my post, the big bit not aimed at hurting the feelings of the ruling class, is an attempt to explain to people, including those poor beleaguered public servants and/or petty tyrants, why they’re mistaken in their lopsided, science-obsessed approach to public policy-making. That’s my contribution to the improvement of a discourse that, today, seems to devolve into “follow the science,” without regard to the tragedy that entails.

    • #20
  21. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Stad (View Comment):

    People tend to cling to the science that provides the results they already believe in. One of the hallmarks of science is the ability to challenge results and provide evidence that supports said challenge. Whenever someone screams at opponents, calls them names, and uses intimidation to support their “scientific” beliefs, you can rest assured they worry their beliefs will be proven false.

    At the same time, what one already believes in changes the choice of experiments, the experiment itself, and the interpretation of the outcome.  People are not purely logical by a long shot.

    • #21
  22. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    People tend to cling to the science that provides the results they already believe in. One of the hallmarks of science is the ability to challenge results and provide evidence that supports said challenge. Whenever someone screams at opponents, calls them names, and uses intimidation to support their “scientific” beliefs, you can rest assured they worry their beliefs will be proven false.

    At the same time, what one already believes in changes the choice of experiments, the experiment itself, and the interpretation of the outcome. People are not purely logical by a long shot.

    The point of the post really is to point out that “the science,” whether it’s good or it’s bad, whether people understand it or not, whether it’s used objectively or cherry-picked for particular results — however it’s used or understood, “the science” is inadequate when it comes to making the decisions being made today. Because our lives transcend science.

    • #22
  23. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    People tend to cling to the science that provides the results they already believe in. One of the hallmarks of science is the ability to challenge results and provide evidence that supports said challenge. Whenever someone screams at opponents, calls them names, and uses intimidation to support their “scientific” beliefs, you can rest assured they worry their beliefs will be proven false.

    At the same time, what one already believes in changes the choice of experiments, the experiment itself, and the interpretation of the outcome. People are not purely logical by a long shot.

    The point of the post really is to point out that “the science,” whether it’s good or it’s bad, whether people understand it or not, whether it’s used objectively or cherry-picked for particular results — however it’s used or understood, “the science” is inadequate when it comes to making the decisions being made today. Because our lives transcend science.

    That’s right.  That’s what I meant by “what one already believes”.  I certainly didn’t put it well.  Science is at its purest rational.  Rationality is crucial to life in the individual and the greater world, but rationality always requires a fundamental world view that is gained by anecdotal experience rather than experimentation.  And so even “science” can have errors due to biases.  QALYs (or whatever they are called now) are scientifically derived from actuarial tables, but they imply and rely on an unscientific valuation of what “quality of life” means.  And they are also examples of differences — and deficiencies — in how people perceive and value things.

    • #23
  24. D.A. Venters Member
    D.A. Venters
    @DAVenters

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    DAV, in your enthusiastic defense of the poor downtrodden public servants who have commanded millions of Americans to shutter their livelihoods and huddle in their homes in the name of “science,” you mischaracterize my post.

    Your comment is 80% as long as my original post, and yet focuses on only a couple of sentences which you feel condemns too many public servants without adequate evidence. There’s some justification in that criticism, I’m sure, though I note that your defense is similarly lacking evidence: this is basically two guys expressing their opinions about the nobility or lack thereof of the average Governor, a subject about which we obviously disagree.

    But the bulk of my post, the big bit not aimed at hurting the feelings of the ruling class, is an attempt to explain to people, including those poor beleaguered public servants and/or petty tyrants, why they’re mistaken in their lopsided, science-obsessed approach to public policy-making. That’s my contribution to the improvement of a discourse that, today, seems to devolve into “follow the science,” without regard to the tragedy that entails.

    I didn’t intend to distract from your main point.  My apologies for that.  I do think your mentions of motives stand out in the post, or at least they did for me.  I can’t agree that we are equal footing as to our assessments of those motives.  These governors – or at least the ones I’ve happened to hear about – have, for months, given near daily briefings along with other members of their cabinets – medical experts and economic advisers both – to explain their actions.  They subject themselves, and their rationale, to a barrage of questions and press scrutiny frequently.  They explain themselves constantly and will all have to face re-election.  There is in these near constant discussions of their actions plenty of evidence that they are motivated by something other than petty ambition and that they do, in fact, care about the issues you mention in the OP.

    If you’ve listened to them, they are not simply declaring science to be king and dismissing everything else.  They explain the compromises they’re trying to navigate between difficult choices.  Informed by science, of course, as they should be. 

    None of this is to say they’re always right, or not relying too heavily on certain studies or whatever.  It is simply a point about their motivations that needs to be said.  Nor am I saying there aren’t some bad actors out there who ought to be voted out.

    It’s not their feelings I’m worried about.  It’s the level of ignorance, anger, and hatred in our society these days.  Declaring these governors to be evil, without evidence, when that kind of rhetoric builds and builds, is damaging.  You see how it manifests itself on the left when the motives of police are inaccurately portrayed as racist. 

    • #24
  25. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    D.A. Venters (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    DAV, in your enthusiastic defense of the poor downtrodden public servants who have commanded millions of Americans to shutter their livelihoods and huddle in their homes in the name of “science,” you mischaracterize my post.

    Your comment is 80% as long as my original post, and yet focuses on only a couple of sentences which you feel condemns too many public servants without adequate evidence. There’s some justification in that criticism, I’m sure, though I note that your defense is similarly lacking evidence: this is basically two guys expressing their opinions about the nobility or lack thereof of the average Governor, a subject about which we obviously disagree.

    But the bulk of my post, the big bit not aimed at hurting the feelings of the ruling class, is an attempt to explain to people, including those poor beleaguered public servants and/or petty tyrants, why they’re mistaken in their lopsided, science-obsessed approach to public policy-making. That’s my contribution to the improvement of a discourse that, today, seems to devolve into “follow the science,” without regard to the tragedy that entails.

    I didn’t intend to distract from your main point. My apologies for that. I do think your mentions of motives stand out in the post, or at least they did for me. I can’t agree that we are equal footing as to our assessments of those motives. These governors – or at least the ones I’ve happened to hear about – have, for months, given near daily briefings along with other members of their cabinets – medical experts and economic advisers both – to explain their actions. They subject themselves, and their rationale, to a barrage of questions and press scrutiny frequently. They explain themselves constantly and will all have to face re-election. There is in these near constant discussions of their actions plenty of evidence that they are motivated by something other than petty ambition and that they do, in fact, care about the issues you mention in the OP.

    If you’ve listened to them, they are not simply declaring science to be king and dismissing everything else. They explain the compromises they’re trying to navigate between difficult choices. Informed by science, of course, as they should be.

    None of this is to say they’re always right, or not relying too heavily on certain studies or whatever. It is simply a point about their motivations that needs to be said. Nor am I saying there aren’t some bad actors out there who ought to be voted out.

    It’s not their feelings I’m worried about. It’s the level of ignorance, anger, and hatred in our society these days. Declaring these governors to be evil, without evidence, when that kind of rhetoric builds and builds, is damaging. You see how it manifests itself on the left when the motives of police are inaccurately portrayed as racist.

    DA, that is a cogent, thoughtful, and frankly compelling response. I usually try to avoid imputing motives; breaking that habit in this case has resulted in the only negative feedback I’ve experienced with this post. I should probably try to learn something from that.

    I’m sure there are governors — there must be — who have prioritized the simultaneous isolation of high-risk populations and the freeing of the citizenry to go about its business, and I should applaud them. I’ll reserve my ire for those who still insist that businesses be closed, gatherings be prohibited, and children stay home from school, all in the name of the science.

    • #25
  26. DWard Coolidge
    DWard
    @DWard

    I can’t Like this enough.  Officials cite “the science” to justify things when “the science” only provides answers to specific questions.  “The science” is making us smarter about transmission and treatments, but it doesn’t tell us what’s the best balance between immediate and long term risk. Only humans having rational discussions can make those assessments, and it looks like most of our officials, elected or otherwise, are incapable of that. 

     

    • #26
  27. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Here’s a link to a 2017 article in the left wing British publication The Guardian, and below is the money quote:

    From “Why we can’t trust academic journals to tell the scientific truth”

    The idea that the same experiment will always produce the same result, no matter who performs it, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to truth. However, more than 70% of the researchers, who took part in a recent study published in Nature have tried and failed to replicate another scientist’s experiment. Another study found that at least 50% of life science research cannot be replicated. The same holds for 51% of economics papers.

    Again, this information is 3-4 years old, but of course is not generally known by the people who actually believe in the vague phrase, “Follow the science.”

    So for those complaining that the OP was vague regarding his complaints about the state of science today, there’s some hard data to back it up.  That article does have links to the original research it talks about.

    • #27
  28. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    People tend to cling to the science that provides the results they already believe in. One of the hallmarks of science is the ability to challenge results and provide evidence that supports said challenge. Whenever someone screams at opponents, calls them names, and uses intimidation to support their “scientific” beliefs, you can rest assured they worry their beliefs will be proven false.

    At the same time, what one already believes in changes the choice of experiments, the experiment itself, and the interpretation of the outcome. People are not purely logical by a long shot.

    The point of the post really is to point out that “the science,” whether it’s good or it’s bad, whether people understand it or not, whether it’s used objectively or cherry-picked for particular results — however it’s used or understood, “the science” is inadequate when it comes to making the decisions being made today. Because our lives transcend science.

    Your last sentence sums it up.  This is why I believe we should get back to normal, and quickly.  Citizens rose to the occasion earlier in the year, interrupting lives because we didn’t know what we were dealing with.  We figured things out a long time ago, but many politicians and the MSM pounced on the opportunity to turn the epidemic into political capital.  This refusal to “allow” us to get on with our lives is proof positive to me.  Yes, COVID has proven to be more potent than the normal flu, but it’s still not worth turning the country insideout over.

    Now, Ebola would be something to truly fear . . .

    • #28
  29. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    MISTER BITCOIN (View Comment):
    Science alone shouldn’t dictate public policy

    It not only shouldn’t, but it cannot. It is incapable of dictating anything. It has no more means to dictate public policy than a rock can dictate public policy.  

    • #29
  30. MiMac Thatcher
    MiMac
    @MiMac

    Al Sparks (View Comment):

    Here’s a link to a 2017 article in the left wing British publication The Guardian, and below is the money quote:

    From “Why we can’t trust academic journals to tell the scientific truth”

    The idea that the same experiment will always produce the same result, no matter who performs it, is one of the cornerstones of science’s claim to truth. However, more than 70% of the researchers, who took part in a recent study published in Nature have tried and failed to replicate another scientist’s experiment. Another study found that at least 50% of life science research cannot be replicated. The same holds for 51% of economics papers.

    Again, this information is 3-4 years old, but of course is not generally known by the people who actually believe in the vague phrase, “Follow the science.”

    So for those complaining that the OP was vague regarding his complaints about the state of science today, there’s some hard data to back it up. That article does have links to the original research it talks about.

    There are two good articles on the subject (I have referenced them on other threads-but at the risk of repetition here they are):

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/05/scientific-regress

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/making-it-all-up

    here is one of the article that revealed the problem

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-018-0399-z.epdf?sharing_token=yXWQapo2wq9Ez6-TZ35nE9RgN0jAjWel9jnR3ZoTv0ODPoD_DniKOJV85YbvYREV4WYg3rUMkw4Dn3xQpiS36X4SsNiPbgxI-gOKDTUGRw9pvXEkgdcnfNT1KhfkA0oSWTt6haBsbJ5hB6492HGGoulHrxhnQFyU0i-E40pzc6pygudlsYI-Y_7UUHz18AV1-heNhvRCXEDJWxn9ftJZ2w%3D%3D&tracking_referrer=www.vox.com

     

    • #30