Blindly following "the science" into ruin

Aren’t you sick of politicians calling down “science” on the heads of anyone who disagrees with their politicalization of the coronavirus pandemic to justify their poisonous economic lockdowns.

It brings to mind a similar scenario: In the 1970s, Chicago began installing high-pressure sodium streetlights that “science” told us would be disastrous.

A campaign was launched to halt the installation of the orange-colored lights because, the “science” said they could practically lead to the deforestation of Chicago. The glow, “science” told us,  would screw up the day and night rhythms of trees, making trees think that it’s still daylight when it was nighttime. As a result, the trees would struggle to keep growing and die–on a massive scale.

Didn’t happen. The “science” was wrong.

But now that the city now is replacing those same sodium bulbs with LED lights that more resemble daylight, the “science” is warning of new dangers, wouldn’t you know. 

Not just science, but a “growing body of science”–the cliche deployed to demonstrate that this is oh-so-ever-more-serious stuff. As WBEZ (naturally) reported,

But critics say this isn’t a bright idea — or maybe too bright of an idea? — and they point to a growing body of science showing links between some LED lights and health and environmental problems.

Among them (of course) was confusing the trees, making them think night was day. (Read here, the ((politicized)) American Medical Association’s chilling list of harm that will befall people, animals and plants.)

Scientific certainty today is taking a beating because of its many failures in the battle against coronavirus. Those failures have led to the economic devastation that fell on many more millions of Americans than on those who have fallen victim to COVID-19.

Saying that the epidemiologists blew it is an understatement. Millions have not died of it. Hospitals were not crushed under the COVID-19 burden; instead uncounted millions were spent to build additional beds that never came close to being filled. Meanwhile, people needing surgeries and other “elective” procedures didn’t get them.

Masks wouldn’t do anything we were initially told. Then we were told that everyone must wear them. The Centers for Disease Control first warned that we could get the virus from touching surfaces; then, well, not so much. The World Health Organization first assured us the infection wouldn’t travel from human to human; then it warned that it was the only way could travel.

Maybe or maybe not the virus originated in a filthy Chinese food market. Scientists can’t agree on whether a rebound of the disease will be evidence that the drastic shutdowns worked or that the “heard immunity” has been reached.


As a story in the Washington Post observed:

In this pandemic, we’re swimming in statistics, trends, models, projections, infection rates, death tolls….

Scientists are still trying to understand the virus they call SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease covid-19. Basic questions are not fully answered: How deadly is this virus? How contagious? Are there different strains with different clinical outcomes? Why does SARS-CoV-2 create a devastating disease in some people while leaving others without symptoms or even knowledge that they were infected?

The politicalization of science is a contentious issue within the scientific community itself. The debate goes back decades. But for the rest of us, it is necessary to keep up our guard against “agenda science.” Democracy cannot turn decision-making over to technocrats and experts.

Pompous declarations that “we are following the science” are usually followed by distortion, exaggeration or need to be closely examined and challenged. It has become such a cliche that its use alone threatens to discredit science. We can’t allow that either. 

My historical novel: Madness: The War of 1812

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Filed under: Economy, Health, Science

Tags: Coronavirus, COVID-19


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  • But don't our doctors and nurses follow the science? And if we don't follow the science, what does that leave us with? Trump and his conspiracy spinners?

  • Yes Dennis! and if you weren't retired this would have appeared in the back of the obituaries, probably in Braille. There is a reason some coined the phrase MAD SCIENTIST-right after the "RUSSIANS ARE COMING."

  • After 20 years of science courses and 40 years of practice, I can tell you the “science” always changes and is often wrong. I can give you numerous cases where all the “experts” agree and three years later, we ask “what were they thinking?” Two or three years from now we will find out how much of the science, predictions, and models were wrong. Your comment alone shows how politicized this whole situation is.

  • It was pointed out that in 1968, the Hong Kong flu killed over 100,000 in the US and over a million worldwide. No lockdown, no panic, no vaccine and the virus disappeared without the medical system being overwhelmed. This Covid has become about politics, not medicine. One third of the deaths, 33,000, are in nursing homes and only FL, not NY, not NJ or IL did anything to protect them, let alone sending infected people back into the nursing homes, thanks to some governors.

  • Anecdotal evidence can be cited to support almost any proposition you choose. We follow the advice of scientists, not because we know they will always be right, but because we know that they are more likely to be correct than soothsayers, astrologist or retired journalists

    As for politicians calling down science on disbelievers, you might consider words Chief Justice Roberts used yesterday in denying injunctive relief to a California church. "The precise question of when restrictions on particular social activities should be lifted during the pandemic is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement. Our Constitution principally entrusts '[t]he safety and the health of the people' to the politically ac-countable officials of the States 'to guard and protect.'”

  • This is going to be fun watching science state Illinois versus Florida. Chicago is a lot more dense so naturally the numbers should probably be about double. Florida is a bunch of science deniers, let’s see how this plays out.

    It’s hard though because Illinois is honest about their numbers, apparently Florida is not.

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