“...sometimes we lose sight of this principle and become irrationally suspicious of the scientific community.”

"My point here is not to say that we must believe everything that the scientific community says about masks and social distancing and recommended shutdowns and vaccines. It is possible that there are some very terrible mistakes being made. But if so, they are just that: mistakes. The medical/scientific community at large are trying to bring the pandemic to a swift end; there is no logical reason why they would be collectively trying to dupe us all." - Snoeberger

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Getting errors from the DBTS blog site at the moment. Hopefully it clears up shortly. An important read for our times.

Edit: it's back now.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Bert Perry's picture

Let's correct brother Snoeberger; it's not that leaders "may have" made terrible mistakes, they clearly did, and they continue to do so.  Governor Whitmer in Michigan even reinforced error #1 (below) with a veto.

Error #1 is sending patients with active COVID cases back into nursing homes.  It's the equivalent to incarcerating Jason Vorhees at a summer camp or Larry Nassar at a girls' gymnastics training room, and it's been done in a bunch of states. #2 is related; failing to provide COVID wards to house the truly sick until they were recovered.  Monster error #3 was the failure of many areas to sanitize public sanitation for months (including the New York subways, where nightly sanitizing should have started half a century ago at least!).  

In contrast, when the concern was Ebola, the Firestone Company put the kibosh on it by creating a new town with quarantine hospital on their rubber plantations in Liberia.  They applied standard quarantine theory, which is inexplicably being reversed with COVID.

And the question, then, is why these huge mistakes are being made and defended by people who ought to know better, people who are trying to "crush" the epidemic by doing everything but the obvious.  The ugly reality is that when people do everything but the obvious, people are going to start to wonder what their motivations are.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Barry L.'s picture

....but not necessarily do what they recommend.  Let's assume the science/medical community are not compromised by politics or money (which is quite hypothetical). Their vantage point is to save every life possible and not be concerned with the economic, education, and psychological  consequences of that pursuit. The effects of the lock downs to businesses, schools, and jobs will cause more long term problems for this country than the 300K  deaths in a population of 330MM. A leader does not punt the decisions to the medical community, but weighs all vantage points and makes a sensible decisions based on the facts.

It's the same as you don't let the generals decide whether to go to war. Are they the experts in military? Yes, but they'll go to war based on might and not loss of life, economics, etc.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Let's correct brother Snoeberger; it's not that leaders "may have" made terrible mistakes, they clearly did, and they continue to do so.  Governor Whitmer in Michigan even reinforced error #1 (below) with a veto.

It's worth noting that though politicians and others like to refer to 'the science,' as though it were monolithic, it isn't. But a strong consensus among entities that are normally competitive is pretty meaningful.

I think a big part of the problem people have with being good consumers of scientific claims/data is the expectation that the voice of science must be pretty much binary: it's either all for A or all for not-A. This results in missing the real complexity of what they're claiming, which is always probabilistic. This or that is somewhat likely, very likely, very unlikely, etc.  

The expectation of simplicity/black & white also leads to cherry picking. I don't know how many times I've heard/read, over the last several months, "this policy is driven by fear, not by science; the science says... [reference to some outlier who might be right but is the 1 in 1000 holding to that view]."

Americans, and Christians, would use "the science" better if we all just mentally replaced "the science says" or "scientists say" with "some scientists."

"Some scientists say" is, logically, the same as "scientists say," but somehow it's psychologically completely different when you put that "some" in front of it. After a bit of research, it might be appropriate to replace "some" with "most" or even "nearly all." But the initial read should be "some."

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Let's correct brother Snoeberger; it's not that leaders "may have" made terrible mistakes, they clearly did, and they continue to do so.

I imagine "may have" is a rhetorical device, not an admission of uncertainty. 

Mike Harding's picture

We need straight science without politics.  Science is not immune from ideological and political pressure.  Much scientific info does not make it to the main stream press.  Fortunately, Fox does give a bigger, more balanced picture.  

Pastor Mike Harding

TylerR's picture

Editor

Mike wrote:

Much scientific info does not make it to the main stream press.  Fortunately, Fox does give a bigger, more balanced picture.  

I don't think it's quite accurate to suggest Fox News gives a "balanced" picture about our world! And, scientific info does indeed make it into the mainstream press ... but perhaps not to cable news. I read a long article just yesterday about mRNA vaccines from a well-known print media outlet. The old lament about "the mainstream media" is self-imposed - curate your news media intentionally and thoughtfully, and you will find out everything you wish to know.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mike Harding's picture

Dr. Mark Siegel, Dr. Shapiro, and the Standford medical group have given info on Fox that I did not hear emphasized on the main networks.  Fox is not without criticism, I agree.

Pastor Mike Harding

Bert Perry's picture

....but the reason I named the huge mistakes is because at some point, it seems that the politicization of science has gotten to the point where good science is simply not being done.  For a contrast, read this article about how the Firestone company, starting with basically zero expertise on epidemiology, stopped Ebola in its tracks in Liberia.  I remember reading a newspaper article a couple of years later where St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester (one of two big Mayo Clinic hospitals in the city and the hospital that made the Mayo brothers famous) was setting themselves up to be the primary Ebola caretaker for the region.

At which point my only thought was "These people are nuts.  St. Mary's is THE go-to hospital for any number of diseases for the entire region, and they want to bring one of the world's most dangerous infectious diseases here?"  Fast forward a few years, and that's exactly what they did, putting thousands of doctors, nurses, and support personnel out of work because nobody thought to follow Firestone's winning strategy.  

Ironically, Rochester has a number of empty buildings which could have been used to follow Firestone's strategy, including at least one (the old Kmart on the south side of downtown) that Mayo already owns.  (others; old Dick's Sporting Goods, old Gander Mountain, and the Fairgrounds come to mind)  So as far as I can tell--and my daughter's father in law, a pathologist at Mayo, agrees--a lot of the basics of epidemiology are being forgotten, starting with "you quarantine the sick, not the healthy".  

So this isn't something where there is rightly debate, like "will immunity from COVID be temporary or permanent?", or "to what degree do face masks reduce the spread of COVID?".   This is something where best practices have literally been known for centuries, and were re-demonstrated very, very recently.  So again, why are we screwing this up so badly?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

...but the reason I named the huge mistakes is because at some point, it seems that the politicization of science has gotten to the point where good science is simply not being done. 

It's still being done. But I agree that politicization has done a lot of damage.

To a degree, that always been a problem. Today, researchers (which is all 'scientists' are) compete for project funding individually or as part of foundations and other NGOs that compete for funding, private and public. Centuries ago, you had to have a patron nobelman or monarch to do science.

These funding relationships are inherently political.... but in this age of mass media, politicization has to be much a more constant thing. So good science relies not only on good scientists, but supporting organizations and leaders who understand and respect the work enough to not interfere for political gain.

If you ask me, the big problem with "science & the media" is that infotainment has a built in "dumbing down" and "buzzing up" dynamic. It's the enemy of accuracy, because to get more eyeballs and clicks you have to be dramatic... more dramatic than the next guy.

Unless you're content to find a quiet and thoughtful niche. (This is what The Dispatch formed to try to do, by the way. It was not formed to oppose Trump. It was formed to resist the dazzle dynamic and conservative identity politics. Remains to be seen if they can stay funded that way. But I happily give them my dollars.)

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.