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Why “Follow the science” is showing its age as a slogan

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In a longish but most informative piece, physicist and political scientist Matthew Crawford asks us to look at what goes into the sausage of science these days:

The phrase “follow the science” has a false ring to it. That is because science doesn’t lead anywhere. It can illuminate various courses of action, by quantifying the risks and specifying the tradeoffs. But it can’t make the necessary choices for us. By pretending otherwise, decision-makers can avoid taking responsibility for the choices they make on our behalf.

Increasingly, science is pressed into duty as authority. It is invoked to legitimise the transfer of sovereignty from democratic to technocratic bodies, and as a device for insulating such moves from the realm of political contest.

Over the past year, a fearful public has acquiesced to an extraordinary extension of expert jurisdiction over every domain of life. A pattern of “government by emergency” has become prominent, in which resistance to such incursions are characterised as “anti-science”.

But the question of political legitimacy hanging over rule by experts is not likely to go away. If anything, it will be more fiercely fought in coming years as leaders of governing bodies invoke a climate emergency that is said to require a wholesale transformation of society. We need to know how we arrived here.

Matthew Crawford, “How science has been corrupted” at Unherd

There is certain to be a door marked Exit. Better find it. Science is no better fitted, all by itself, to be government than religion is.

19 Replies to “Why “Follow the science” is showing its age as a slogan

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    Has science been corrupted? Has religion been corrupted? To ask the question implies that there was a time when thy weren’t corrupted but is that the case.? If it is human beings that are – and always have been – corruptible and both religion and science are human enterprises then was there eevr a time when they were not corrupt to come extent?

  2. 2
    paige says:

    Science can only point out possible or likely consequences, and suggest possible means of dealing with something, but is mute on the moral and ethical implications of the actions taken.

    As an example, we can mitigate global warming by stopping the burning of all fossil fuels. That is “following the science”. But doing so would result in poverty and starvation for a good chunk of the world’s population.

  3. 3
    polistra says:

    The BIG PROBLEM with both of these emergencies is that the official “science” is the EXACT OPPOSITE OF REAL SCIENCE. CO2 as a cause for weather has been decisively disproved over and over, in strict Popper form.

    Using lockdowns and muzzles against a respiratory virus has been tried before in small-scale experiments, and has been decisively disproved. This year’s total holocaust disproved it even more powerfully.

    In both cases the monsters have abused and inverted real science and real math to implement genocide.

    Political pushback would be nice, but pushback from REAL SCIENCE would be even more effective.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    Scientism as a tool of lawless, oligarchic, technocratic elites, who’da thunk?

  5. 5
    jerry says:

    Three weeks ago Sharyl Attikkson published this

    EXCLUSIVE: Sharyl Attkisson investigates Covid Origins

    One scientist called it political suicide to question origin of C19

    https://rumble.com/vg1ujt-exclusive-sharyl-attkisson-investigates-covid-origins.html

    Then Nicholas Wade’s article came out a week larer

    Origin of Covid — Following the Clues

    Essentially showing virus was designed and funded by Fauci and the usual suspects.

    https://nicholaswade.medium.com/origin-of-covid-following-the-clues-6f03564c038

    Aside: Rumble is being used to get around Google’s censorship of news and opinions.

  6. 6
    johnnyb says:

    Seversky –

    The problem, ultimately, is concentrations of power. The whole of the American experiment is to do our best to remove concentrations of power. There always was corruption in science, it just didn’t matter too much if power wasn’t concentrated there – you can simply ignore stupid and corrupt people. However, “follow the science” is inherently concentrating power into one area of society. Thus, the corruptions are forced upon everyone else.

    Additionally, without the concentrations of power, there is less *reason* to be corrupt. As Chesterton notes, a man will cheat in his vocation, but not his avocation. There still was corruption, but not only was it ignorable, people were less likely to be tempted to do it.

  7. 7
    polistra says:

    This is scary as hell. MIT media researchers infiltrated the “virus” data-gathering community and found to their surprise that the data-gatherers were using pure strict science, while the establishment was using the opposite of science. Should the establishment switch to real science? Of course not, because real science is “horrifying”, and real science caused the Violent Coup Of January 6. Their words.

    Link to the PDF:

    https://t.co/jsoAG8G2VT?amp=1

  8. 8
    Viola Lee says:

    That’s a potentially interesting article, but long and dense. Can you point to the pertinent parts that support your saying:

    1. MIT media researchers infiltrated the “virus” data-gathering community

    2. found to their surprise that the data-gatherers were using pure strict science, while the establishment was using the opposite of science

    3. real science is “horrifying”, and real science caused the Violent Coup Of January 6

    Thanks.

  9. 9
    jerry says:

    From the MIT study

    As Tufekci demonstrates (and our data corroborates), the CDC’s initial public messaging that masks were ineffective—followed by a quick public reversal— seriously hindered the organization’s ability to effectively communicate as the pandemic progressed. As we have seen, people are not simply passive consumers of media: anti-mask users in particular were predisposed to digging through the scientific literature and highlighting the uncertainty in academic publications that media or- ganizations elide. When these uncertainties did not surface within public-facing versions of these studies, people began to assume that there was a broader cover-up

    Seem pretty reasonable to assume a cover-up given what is seen poking around credible people who analyzed the data.

    Also from study

    Within this constituency, unorthodox viewpoints do not result from a deficiency of data literacy; sophisticated practices of data literacy are a means of consolidating and promulgating views that fly in the face of scientific orthodoxy. Not only are these groups prolific in their creation of counter-visualizations, but they leverage data and their visual representations to advocate for and enact policy changes on the city, county, and state levels.

    Searched and could not find large Denmark study which showed use of masks essentially useless.

    Some examples of anti-maskers and charts

    https://rationalground.com/mask-charts/

  10. 10
    jerry says:

    The anti science mantra in the name of science is worldwide. What’s going on?

    Something Is Up. Therapeutic Nihilism is Worldwide

    https://rumble.com/vgqayr-something-is-up.-therapeutic-nihlism-is-worldwide.html

    Longer interview

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7cLxs8fNq8

    Get it before Google finds it and takes it down.

  11. 11
  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    Johnnyb/6

    The problem, ultimately, is concentrations of power. The whole of the American experiment is to do our best to remove concentrations of power.

    In any political system there will always be those with the skills to manipulate it to their advantage and they will aggregate great wealth and power with its attendant corruption. That is as true of capitalist democracies as it is of socialist autocracies. The American experiment is no different because the problems are in human nature. No one is defending the brutal regimes in Russia or China but it’s equally hard to defend a system which allows talentless celebrities like the Kardashians to earn billions while the nurses who wear themselves to a frazzle treating victims of the pandemic are paid a pittance by comparison.

    However, “follow the science” is inherently concentrating power into one area of society. Thus, the corruptions are forced upon everyone else.

    If, mog forbid, you or a loved one fell seriously ill, you would almost certainly go straight to a doctor or hospital to find out what was wrong and get it treated if at all possible.

    What other choices would you have?

    You could, if you really distrusted the medical profession, do something like the family I’ve mentioned before who prayed for their daughter to be cured of her diabetes but you would in all probability wind up, like they did, watching her die on the floor of their living-room as they prayed of complications of a disease that can be well-managed now by proper medical treatment.

    The problem is not socialism or capitalism or liberal or conservative, it’s human nature. It’s us, which is why I find the notion of human exceptionalism a bad joke.

  13. 13
    paige says:

    Seversky, and it is interesting to note that insulin is now beyond the price range of many diabetics. A drug who’s discoverers did not patent it because they felt it too important to profit from.

  14. 14
    jerry says:

    As usual Seversky is as a bellwether. He is nearly always disproved by history. However, he is right that humans that have no moral backing will make immoral decisions.

    He obviously didn’t watch the videos I linked to above which are an interview of Tucker Carlson with Dr. Peter McCullough on the corruption of the medical establishment world wide.

  15. 15
    jerry says:

    Quote from Scott Adams

    What’s the scientific basis for believing the average person is capable of “following the science”? Anecdotally, all evidence and life experience suggests it is an absurdity.

    But we humans can follow bulls**t like we were born to it.

  16. 16
    Seversky says:

    Jerry

    A little OT but have you ever read The Space Merchants by C M Kornbluth and Frederick Pohl?

  17. 17
    Seversky says:

    Jerry/14

    As usual Seversky is as a bellwether. He is nearly always disproved by history.

    History can be so cruel.

    However, he is right that humans that have no moral backing will make immoral decisions.

    Even those who claim moral backing make immoral decisions. Are we exceptional in our immorality?

    He obviously didn’t watch the videos I linked to above which are an interview of Tucker Carlson with Dr. Peter McCullough on the corruption of the medical establishment world wide

    I would rather watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians”.

  18. 18
    jerry says:

    I would rather watch “Keeping up with the Kardashians”

    Now we know where you get your science ideas from.

    have you ever read The Space Merchants by C M Kornbluth and Frederick Pohl?

    No, I haven’t. I just read the synopsis on Amazon. Seems unrealistic since I was in advertising and my experience is most advertising fails. The best we could hope for was keeping the status quo. This had nothing to do with me as nearly everyone else experienced the same thing.

    I was involved in only one commercial that actually increased sales.

  19. 19
    jerry says:

    A somewhat long but devastating look into modern science by an active scientist, Matthew Crawford.

    How science has been corrupted

    The chorus of complaints about a declining “faith in science” states the problem almost too frankly. The most reprobate among us are climate sceptics, unless those be the Covid deniers, who are charged with not obeying the science. If all this has a medieval sound, it ought to give us pause.

    https://unherd.com/2021/05/how-science-has-been-corrupted/

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