Covid-19

2 Worlds Collided

Politics in the Science of Covid-19

Alan Graham
Feb 16 · 7 min read
Medieval castle with tower
Medieval castle with tower
Towers were at one time really needed for protection. Photo by Oliver Lechner from Pexels

What Science CAN and CAN’T do

Science is meant to be a method of inquiry; it is always in evolution. You come up with a hypothesis, usually based on some other research observation, asking, ‘What would happen if …?’ According to scientific method, before ever stepping into a lab, you determine the accuracy necessary ( determined by non-scientific requirements) in your study design, which would be acceptable to confirm your hypothesis. You publish your findings, they are found to be lacking and improved or replaced by other scientists. You see their data and modify your theory, and over the years get closer to the truth bit by bit.

Politics in Science

Some people are speaking out; some are even being heard. At Johns Hopkins University, Genevieve Briand presented in a seminar in Nov 2020 reviewing the CDC data on Covid-19. From mid-Mar to mid-Sept in the USA, there were approx 200,000 Covid deaths. Putting this into context of the 1.7 million total deaths in that period, this makes Covid responsible for 12% of the deaths. She noted that 84% of the Covid deaths were in the population of people over 65, which is the expected percentage of deaths in general for this demographic.

The Purpose of the Ivory Tower

Science only works if there is a free exchange of ideas. But not when scientists are afraid to speak up against the majority opinion, or can’t get published. Many scientists have nice jobs, but if they lose them, how are they going to support their family or even get another job, if they are canceled? I feel for them. This whole thing has been politicized to an unhealthy degree. They have to make sure they don’t harm their own careers, so they are self-censoring. It’s safer for them if they just shut up; but not necessarily safer for us, unfortunately.

Free to Offend

The remarkable advances science has made in recent centuries began when scientists began to openly propose a theory and not keep their discoveries a secret for fear of reprisals or theft. Then scientists could listen and learn from each other. I don’t see an environment where that can happen very much right now around this scientific topic, among others, and it’s scary.

Out of Control

I believe underlying all of this pandemic vitriol (here comes the philosophy) is not coming from people having a special attachment to certain data, but from governments needing to tell citizens they are in control of the situation. (After spending $400b and losing thousands of jobs, it would take great humility for them to say they made a mistake and change tactics in mid-stream.)

The Breakthrough

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