As I’ve already noted I believe in science, too.
That is why the insult, so often flung in the face of dissenters from the conventional wisdom, of being somehow “against science” is so annoying.
The flingers of these insults often treat science as if it were the modern religion. Unlike religion, which is dogmatic (at least, mine is), science must be always tentative, always waiting for a new discovery, a new frontier, a new world to explore.
The always iconoclastic John Tierney of City Journal explains how in recent months politicians have “blinded” the public with “science.” That’s “science,” not science.
The experts have become something like the Delphic Oracle, and in so doing have been used to absolve politicians and elected officials of their own possibly catastrophic decisions:
It’s never been obvious just what “the science” is, or why anyone would speak of science as a single truth, but the role it plays is quite clear. It’s the modern equivalent of the Oracle of Delphi, that mysterious font of guidance that Greek leaders consulted during wars and other crises. However foolish or sensible the advice may be, the oracle gives leaders an excuse to duck responsibility for decisions—and their consequences.
Why, for instance, was the upstate New York economy shut down for more than two months, despite the small number of cases of Covid-19 in rural counties? Why, as some offices and barber shops and other upstate businesses were finally about to reopen at the end of May, did Governor Andrew Cuomo infuriate local officials by suddenly announcing that this decision could not be made by them—or even by himself?
‘We’ll give the experts all the data,’ he explained. ‘And if they say we should move forward, we move forward.’ Everyone’s fate now rests with the new oracles.
But the new oracles are sometimes as regrettably as wrong as the old gals at Delphi and of course like us all have limited perspectives:
How do the experts know that 28 percent is too little and 30 percent is enough? They don’t. They’ve made a guess. It’s an educated guess, because it’s informed by their profession, but it’s also biased by their profession.
Their careers depend on stopping the spread of the virus, not on making sure that children can learn or adults can work.
So when these experts ponder trade-offs, they err on the side of their profession. It would be much easier for restaurants and other businesses to operate if customers had to stay just three feet apart, in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendation of one-meter social distancing.
But public-health authorities would rather play it safe by doubling the distance. They don’t know how many lives this will save, and they certainly don’t know how many businesses will be bankrupted by it. That’s not their job.
And the lockdowns, while justified for a time, have been a tragedy, economically (though the is evidence we will rebound) and personally:
The side effects of the lockdowns across America may already be deadlier than the pandemic itself, as Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution and other researchers have concluded. They estimate that the consequences of unemployment, missed doctors’ visits, and other factors during the two-month lockdowns will lead to so many extra deaths that Americans will lose a cumulative 1.5 million years of life, nearly twice the total lost so far to Covid-19.
Those deaths don’t show up in the media’s daily Covid-19 tally, so they don’t figure into the “science and data” guiding Cuomo and other politicians.
I urge you to read Tierney’s entire article.