April 5, 2021

GOOD SCIENCE LEARNS; IDEOLOGY DOESN'T:

Scientists Need to Admit What They Got Wrong About Covid (C. Brandon Ogbunu, 4/04/21, Wired)

From the beginning of the pandemic, misinformation and disinformation were not mere nuisances, but defining forces in the global response. And their most influential authors were not only renegade "doctors" with YouTube channels, but government officials directly responsible for the pandemic policy.

At the very least, bad information stymied or derailed public conversation about the science of Covid. The truth is more grim: The doubt that was inspired by bad faith actors drove formal public health policies (or non-policies). Skepticism and science denial had stakes far greater than the winner of a Twitter spat. Simple unknowns were weaponized, and many Covid lies were actively orchestrated and propagated in order to sow doubt about the way that science works, sometimes for political gain.

In the face of this, the scientific community's reluctance to come clean about uncertainties and missteps are not only understandable, but even appropriate: There is a time and place to have abstract debates about the true meaning of "efficacy," and a time to act on the information that we have in service of the public good. The pandemic, and the millions of lives (globally) that we lost in its wake, qualify as a large enough emergency that one can forgive a little chest-thumping bravado: We're scientists, we've spent decades studying this stuff, and your bull[****] is harming people. We, experts and the informed citizen-science public, might know that science is a process that cannot exist without accumulating new data and discarding old ideas. But much of the public is unaware of how this process actually works. Our "trust me, I'm a scientist" appeals can be misguided.

Posted by at April 5, 2021 12:00 AM

  

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