Recently, we mentioned The Scientist’s take on the Surgisphere scandal. A reader writes to draws our attention to a quote from the article:
“Now people are so confused about what science can give you—whether hydroxychloroquine works, it doesn’t work, it’s fake, it’s not fake—that it’s going to be very difficult for us scientists then to use any type of article or publication,” says García. “Now that they know scientists can lie, who will believe us again?”Catherine Offord, “The Surgisphere Scandal: What Went Wrong?” at The Scientist
Well, no one should believe them, the way people used to, particularly, especially now that Scientific American has endorsed a political candidate (who isn’t even a scientist.)
One gets the feeling that many science boffins don’t “get” what is happening. It won’t be easy to make “Trust the science” mean what it used to.
On the ground, it now means something between “Sign on to this superstition rather than that one.” and “Do what you’re told or else!”
When church services are cancelled but angry political gatherings are not, you have to know that science isn’t driving the process anyway. So our moral and intellectual superiors are not really looking to science for rescue.
If this continues, science will come to be seen as synonymous with the authority to force people to do things, irrelevant to outcome.
The change in the way science is regarded will probably be a slow morph away from the idea that every sensible person trusts science toward the question, “Why are they REALLY saying that?”
A more promising possibility: The Covid scare dies down but people start noticing the same pattern in other areas of science. “Natural selection did it” has the same explanatory value as “God did it.” But natural selection is somehow science and God is not. Why? How?
Some conversations may become possible that were not possible before.
See also: Another take on what went wrong with Surgisphere at The Lancet. We are told that the warning signs “were there all along.”
Scientific American breaks with 175-year tradition, endorses Joe Biden for US President.