The reason COVID-19 matters in our discussion of issues at UD News is that it may be the first time many people begin to understand one of the things we have been trying to talk about here for years: The way “science” can just become a club of people who front (and maybe even believe) certain things and suppress others irrespective of evidence, misusing their authority.
Varadarajan: The World Health Organization is a particular offender: “We had a dozen Western scientists go to China in February and team up with a dozen Chinese scientists under the auspices of the WHO.” At a subsequent press conference they pronounced the lab-leak theory “extremely unlikely.” The organization also ignored Taiwanese cries for help with Covid-19 in January 2020.
Holloway: … “I should mention that after discussions earlier today, Eddie, Bob, Mike, and myself all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory,” the expert added. “But we have to look at this much more closely and there are still further analyses to be done, so those opinions could still change.”
This matters to us because it bears on the fate of science in general, as China becomes a global superpower. Nature Editorial: “Such trends are likely to continue if geopolitical tensions with the United States worsen. That would be regrettable.” No, it wouldn’t be “regrettable.” Not so long as China cannot be trusted.
In case you wondered: “China is also spending lavishly around the world to win supremacy in science — which includes becoming the biggest national sponsor of open access journals published by both Springer Nature and Elsevier, owner of The Lancet.”
Some of us have been reflecting on the effect of the COVID-19 panic on the public estimation of science. Here’s an article on the “useful idiot” problem among science journals.
Among more thoughtful people, the term “science” has taken one heck of a beating. When this is all over, we hope it still means something other than “whatever bureaucrats enforce .
It’s off topic for ID as such. But it is important for helping people work through a general principle that concerns all issues that pertain to science: “Trust the science” is not a good approach when the science is so clearly not bound by any standards of grappling with the facts. (Darwinism anyone?)
It’s one thing to trust Darwinblither, just to take an example, when nothing immediate is at stake. But if we agree that COVID-19 is a problem, let’s evaluate more carefully what we have been told on the Authority of Science. And take in the fact that Big Tech backed up the Authority of Science when it was obviously way off base.
For some months there has been a bogus consensus that the theory that the virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan was a crackpot conspiracy theory. Then the dam broke. People may understand the concept better now.
What’s going to be interesting to see is whether Science, as a concept, takes a beating after the COVID crazy — in the sense that “Trust the Science!” descends from mantra to double entendre to joke.
Well, re COVID-19, a good deal of that disinformation and misinformation was purveyed by authorities, scientific and political. Books have been written about that. It’s going to take a long time to come back from this and authoritarian posturing won’t help. It would just prove the cynics right.
First response: Stuff it. Absolutely. Stuff it. Given the way governments goofed big time throughout the pandemic, doubt about vaccines is a reasonable reaction, if not a correct one. A recent poll shows that nearly half of the vaccine doubters are worried about side effects.
Researchers: We find that two particular mutation rates, G →U and C →U, are similarly elevated and considerably higher than all other mutation rates, causing the majority of mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome, and are possibly the result of APOBEC and ROS activity.
At ACSH: Rather shamelessly, the Washington Post has also offered tips to stop yourself from spreading “misinformation.” And the Guardian has even recommended “10 ideas to rebuild our broken internet.” Let’s add an eleventh: take your own advice and stop running sloppy stories because they attract eyeballs.