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COVID 19: John Ioannidis, scourge of trashy science studies, responds to critics

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Earlier, we talked about how he risks Unpersonhood for talking about how COVID-19 shutdowns affect blokes (more than Wokes, who have more resources). A reader kindly wrote to say that Ioannidis has responded to his critics:

Predictions for hospital and ICU bed requirements were also entirely misinforming. Public leaders trusted models (sometimes even black boxes without disclosed methodology) inferring massively overwhelmed health care capacity (Table 1) [3]. However, eventually very few hospitals were stressed, for a couple of weeks. Most hospitals maintained largely empty wards, waiting for tsunamis that never came. The general population was locked and placed in horror-alert to save the health system from collapsing. Tragically, many health systems faced major adverse consequences, not by COVID-19 cases overload, but for very different reasons. Patients with heart attacks avoided visiting hospitals for care [4], important treatments (e.g. for cancer) were unjustifiably delayed [5], mental health suffered [6]. With damaged operations, many hospitals started losing personnel, reducing capacity to face future crises (e.g. a second wave). With massive new unemployment, more people may lose health insurance. The prospects of starvation and of lack of control for other infectious diseases (like tuberculosis, malaria, and childhood communicable diseases for which vaccination is hindered by the COVID-19 measures) are dire [7,8].

John P.A. Ioannidis, Sally Cripps, Martin A. Tanner, “Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed” at International Institute of Forecasters

His team waffles a bit toward the end, along the lines of “better safe than sorry.” But so often that depends on what “safe” turns out to be.

We still urgently need a serious discussion about the role of the “science” expert, as we survey the ruins of our economy. How is that expert different from the crystal ball reader?

2 Replies to “COVID 19: John Ioannidis, scourge of trashy science studies, responds to critics

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    “Science” as used in public discussions departed from reality a long time ago, probably around 1920 when quantum quackery took over the field. “Science” means bizarre ideas and delusions that directly and precisely contradict reality.

    Real knowledge is based on reality, not theories and ideas.

    Until this year, public health was solidly based on experience, determined by long and careful trial and error. This is more like engineering than “science” in the usual form. Suddenly this year, public health switched to “science”, deciding that the only way to fight a virus is by killing everyone. This is certainly a disruptive innovation, which is what we’ve been trained to expect from “science”. You can’t get more disruptive than obliterating the world.

    Now the CDC and the LHC are competing for maximum obliteration. Who will get there first, the CDC’s state of siege or the LHC’s black hole? It’s a photo finish, except that there won’t be any photos after the finish.

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    A true scientific theory is something that can be observed and the results replicated. It is based on what is known at any given time. As more knowledge is gained, theories do change. Big Bang replaced a static universe based on more data becoming available. A hypothesis lacks any evidence. It is something that has not been witnessed and the results have not been replicated. A multiverse is a hypothesis, but it has never been witnessed and the results never replicated.

    To say science should remove theories is to have no understanding of what science is.

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