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Vox on why you can’t trust Big Science

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In the light of recent COVID-19 revelations:

The sudden – and now-hidden – reason scientists did an instantaneous 180 on the origins of Covid-19 underlines the fundamental weakness and unreliability of science… The correct rhetorical response to “I trust the science” is “then you are both stupid and uninformed.”

Vox Popoli, “Why You Can’t Trust Science” at Vox (October 3, 2021)

Vox Populi is riffing off this story:

The Government has been condemned after refusing to release details of key email conversations involving leading scientists over the origins of Covid-19.

This newspaper used Freedom of Information rules to obtain a cache of 32 emails about a secretive teleconference between British and American health officials held early in the pandemic.

But officials blacked out almost every word before releasing the crucial documents.

Ian Birrell, “What are they hiding? At the start of Covid many scientists believed it likely leaked from Wuhan lab – until a conference call with Patrick Vallance changed their minds. We asked for his emails about the call. This is what we got… ” at Daily Mail (October 2, 2021)

If you “trust” these science honchoes at all after this episode… well, COVID-19 is not as serious a threat as wilful stupidity. But going forward, another question looms: How much of “settled science” that has never been subjected to this type of careful outside scrutiny would likewise collapse? What ELSE don’t we know and what difference would it make in various science arenas?

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

4 Replies to “Vox on why you can’t trust Big Science

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    This age pattern has been perfectly clear and consistent from the start in March 2020. Nothing has changed. The “virus” is essentially the same thing as old age.

  2. 2
    Fasteddious says:

    Looking at the top of COVID Fatality vs. Age, there is another such analysis available; one that plots the fatality percent vs. age cohort on a semi-log chart, and comes up with an almost perfect straight line that acurately fits a simple exponential function: https://thopid.blogspot.com/2020/08/some-covid-19-analyses.html
    In essence, based on data from Ontario, the fatality rate doubles for every six years older you are. Charts are provided for three dates during the pandemic. Only this year does the curve depart from a straight line as old folks in nursing homes have been better protected from infection. The chance of dying from COVID, once you have it rises from less than 0.01% for teenagers to around 30% for those over 90 years old! The post also discusses public policy suggestions arising from this info.

  3. 3
    Origenes on vacation says:

    Why does it all seem so well orchestrated? Why are they so good at perpetuating a lie — any lie that fits their narrative. They all protect the lie with everything they’ve got. Everything is allowed to protect the lie. They all know so well how to fall in line …. Where and how did they learn that behavior?

    Lies begets lies.

    What is the big lie they started out with? The lie that really taught them how to lie. The lie of all lies. What is it?

  4. 4
    tjguy says:

    I found David Coppedge’s article at crev.info to be quite interesting: https://crev.info/2021/10/big-science-fossilizes-rapidly/
    BIG SCIENCE FOSSILIZES RAPIDLY

    “Johan S. G. Chu (Northwestern University) and James A. Evans (University of Chicago) have just blown open the myth that science gets better with more research. Their new paper for the Oct. 12, 2021 issue of PNAS is titled, “Slowed canonical progress in large fields of science.” In it, they make the case that Big Science is becoming hardened (i.e., ossified) by consensus that it is hindering the ability for open-minded researchers to debate prevailing views and offer new ideas. The bigger the field, the faster it fossilizes.

    The size of scientific fields may impede the rise of new ideas. Examining 1.8 billion citations among 90 million papers across 241 subjects, we find a deluge of papers does not lead to turnover of central ideas in a field, but rather to ossification of canon. Scholars in fields where many papers are published annually face difficulty getting published, read, and cited unless their work references already widely cited articles. New papers containing potentially important contributions cannot garner field-wide attention through gradual processes of diffusion. These findings suggest fundamental progress may be stymied if quantitative growth of scientific endeavors—in number of scientists, institutes, and papers—is not balanced by structures fostering disruptive scholarship and focusing attention on novel ideas.

    They conclude that “the progress of large scientific fields may be slowed, trapped in existing canon.” The trend is built-in to the citation process, where ossification of old ideas is rewarded by the system. They prove this by tallying almost two billion citations.

    Policies for publishing will have to change, they warn. The system is set up against new thinking. It collides with the very purpose of science: to make progress in understanding the world through evidence, open discussion and critical thinking.

    Coppedge: “Do you suppose this happens in evolutionary biology? I mean, just consider the remote possibility that it might happen.”

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