The COVID-19 Panic Shows Us Why Science Needs Skeptics
The dumpster fire of COVID predictions has shown exactly why it’s important to sustain and nurture skeptics, lest we blunder into scientific monoculture and groupthink. And yet the explosion of “cancel culture” intolerance of any opinion that doesn’t fit a shrinking “3 x 5 card” of right-think risks destroying the very tolerance and science that sustains our civilization.
Since World War II, America has suffered two respiratory pandemics comparable to COVID-19: the 1958 “Asian flu,” then the 1969 “Hong Kong flu.” In neither case did we shut down the economy—people were simply more careful. Not all that careful, of course—Jimi Hendrix was playing at Woodstock in the middle of the 1969 pandemic, and social distancing wasn’t really a thing in the “Summer of Love.”
And yet COVID-19 was very different thanks to a single “buggy mess” of a computer prediction from one Neil Ferguson, a British epidemiologist given to hysterical overestimates of deaths, from mad cow to bird flu to H1N1.
For COVID-19, Ferguson predicted 3 million deaths in America unless we basically shut down the economy. Panicked policymakers took his prediction as gospel, dressed as it was in the cloak of science.
Now, long after governments plunged half the world into a Great Depression, those panicked revisions are being quietly revised down by an order of magnitude, now suggesting a final tally comparable to 1958 and 1969. (See link for article)
Peter St. Onge is the senior economist at the Montreal Economic Institute. He blogs at Profits of Chaos.
Great read and great reminder. You know you are in the wrong place when your mind is closed off to new discoveries. This is quite evident in the Lyme world – where ‘authorities’ are quite happy to name-call those they disagree with ‘quacks’ and ‘conspiracy theorists’ and refuse to keep an open mind on science that is continuously evolving.
It’s comforting to know that our problems are old ones, and also encouraging that our solution is both time-tested and simple: transparency and tolerance.
This implies there is no such thing as “settled science”—the phrase itself is contrary to the scientific method.
The history of Lyme, and now COVID-19 is a history riddled with conflicts of interest, closed-door meetings, and rigged science designed to yield a pre-determined outcome.
Another reminder: the same people behind the Lyme fiasco are also behind the COVID fiasco. Do not trust these people. Do your own reading, talk to those with experience, and trust the body’s innate ability to heal itself.