Covid and politics (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Sunday, September 12, 2021, 18:43 (339 days ago)

Read this entry by Feser, just skip the references to the Catholic Church, if you wish:

"Like other academics, I first became aware of John Ioannidis through his influential 2005 paper “Why Most Published Research Findings are False.” That essay was widely praised as a salutary reminder from one scientist to his fellows of the need for their field to be self-critical. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Ioannidis would become far more widely known, this time for expressing skepticism about some of the scientific claims being made about the virus and the measures taken to deal with it. His warnings were in the same spirit as that of his earlier work, and presented in the same measured and reasonable manner – but this time they were not so warmly received. In a new essay at The Tablet, Ioannidis reflects on the damage that has been done to the norms of scientific research as politics has corrupted it during the pandemic.


"For one thing, social media do not merely oversimplify complex issues. They positively foster irrational habits of thought – snap judgments, snark and one-upmanship in place of dispassionate debate, groupthink, and so on. And too many scientists active on social media have succumbed to these temptations, which erodes the Mertonian norm of disinterestedness. Ioannidis writes:

"Anonymous and pseudonymous abuse has a chilling effect; it is worse when the people doing the abusing are eponymous and respectable. The only viable responses to bigotry and hypocrisy are kindness, civility, empathy, and dignity. However, barring in-person communication, virtual living and social media in social isolation are poor conveyors of these virtues.


"As Ioannidis says:

"Big Tech companies, which gained trillions of dollars in cumulative market value from the virtual transformation of human life during lockdown, developed powerful censorship machineries that skewed the information available to users on their platforms… Organized skepticism was seen as a threat to public health. There was a clash between two schools of thought, authoritarian public health versus science – and science lost.


"Regarding the damage that the politicization of science has done, Ioannidis says:

"Politics had a deleterious influence on pandemic science. Anything any apolitical scientist said or wrote could be weaponized for political agendas. Tying public health interventions like masks and vaccines to a faction, political or otherwise, satisfies those devoted to that faction, but infuriates the opposing faction. This process undermines the wider adoption required for such interventions to be effective. Politics dressed up as public health not only injured science. It also shot down participatory public health where people are empowered, rather than obligated and humiliated."

Comment: Worth reading through. The politicization of climate science is just the same.

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