Monday, June 15, 2020

How the Left Politicizes Science

Nothing is quite as bracing on a warm summer morning as two-- count em, two-- voices from the political left exposing, in excruciating detail, the profound dishonesty behind the left’s claim to base its views on scientific fact. I trust you have noticed that the American left keeps blaring out that it’s ideologically driven mania are driven by scientific fact, and that the vast right wing conspiracy has been built on dogma and superstition.

I have often pointed this out, ranging from the idiot notion that tomorrow’s weather, no less the climate a century from now, is a scientific fact, as determined by a computer projection of a hockey stick to the dangerous notion that a three year old child possessing four trillion XY chromosomes can, by changing his mind, become a girl. And that you, a parent or a public health official, have nothing to say about it.

Now, Thomas Chatterton Williams and Glenn Greenwald expose the rank hypocrisy and appalling dishonesty, not only of leftist politicians, but of public health officials and epidemiologists. The same people, both writers explain, had gone all hysterical about the dangers of the coronavirus, to the point where they were willing to pillory anyone caught outside the home not wearing a surgical mask. And yet, when the George Floyd protests broke out and masses of people were gathering maskless on the streets of America, these same public health officials, joined by the usual chorus of idiot journalists, were happy to tell people that it was alright to protest, even at the risk of catching the disease and advancing the pandemic.

Thomas Chatterton Williams wrote in the Guardian that it felt like gaslighting:

This feels like gaslighting. Less than two weeks ago, the enlightened position in both Europe and America was to exercise nothing less than extreme caution. Many of us went much further, taking to social media to castigate others for insufficient social distancing or neglecting to wear masks or daring to believe they could maintain some semblance of a normal life during coronavirus. At the end of April, when the state of Georgia moved to end its lockdown, the Atlantic ran an article with the headline “Georgia’s Experiment in Human Sacrifice”. Two weeks ago we shamed people for being in the street; today we shame them for not being in the street.

And none of these great experts bothered to consider the cost of the lockdown:

As a result of lockdowns and quarantines, many millions of people around the world have lost their jobs, depleted their savings, missed funerals of loved ones, postponed cancer screenings and generally put their lives on hold for the indefinite future. They accepted these sacrifices as awful but necessary when confronted by an otherwise unstoppable virus. Was this or wasn’t this all an exercise in futility?

So, the left politicizes science while accusing the right of politicizing science. Williams adds:

The climate-change-denying right is often ridiculed, correctly, for politicizing science. Yet the way the public health narrative around coronavirus has reversed itself overnight seems an awful lot like … politicizing science.

The cost to the credibility of public health officials, to say nothing of the commentariat, is incalculable:

Public health experts – as well as many mainstream commentators, plenty of whom in the beginning of the pandemic were already incoherent about the importance of face masks and stay-at-home orders – have hemorrhaged credibility and authority. This is not merely a short-term problem; it will constitute a crisis of trust going forward, when it may be all the more urgent to convince skeptical masses to submit to an unproven vaccine or to another round of crushing stay-at-home orders. Will anyone still listen?

For a similar argument, we now turn to Glenn Greenwald, another man of the left who possesses integrity. I know that it’s rare, but it certainly deserves note. Besides, you are much more likely to see Greenwald on the Tucker Carlson show than on CNN.

Greenwald opens:

Remember the coronavirus? That was the pandemic which we were told by public health experts since February was so grave — the worst public health threat since the 1918 Spanish Flu — that we could not go outside for any reason, even if it meant a collapse in the global economy, tens or hundreds of millions of people suffering from unemployment, the permanent shuttering of small businesses, sustained mental health damage, and the separation of people from their loved ones and communities, including barring them from visiting dying spouses and parents and children in the hospital or even attending an outdoor burial.

He continues to point out the flaw behind the hysterical pronouncements-- no one balanced the cost versus the benefits of the policy. Public health officials were drunk with their new sense of self-importance. Media intellectuals were thrilled with the prospect of tanking the economy in the run- up to an election:

So dogmatic was the dictate that we all stay at home that any attempt to question or even balance it — by, for instance, arguing that the harms of the virus had to be weighed against the suffering from an economic shutdown and a global depression — was deemed immoral. Those who questioned state-mandated lockdown and stay-at-home orders, let alone left their homes to actually protest against them, were condemned as sociopaths who were willing to sacrifice the lives of old people for economic prosperity or the trivial, troglodyte desire to go to Applebees. Oftentimes those protesting lockdowns were vilified as white nationalists or at least driven by white racialist sentiments (sometimes they were that, but often they were not).

But now, the experts have found a higher cause, a higher purpose. That is, protesting against racism. For that it’s worth getting sick:

What has changed — dramatically, radically and abruptly — is the messaging from public health experts and even public officials about the virus. Beginning roughly two weeks ago, we all watched as mass stay-at-home orders and self-isolation gave way to massive street protests, where tens or hundreds of thousands of people gathered together in the U.S. and around the world, often one on top of the other, chanting, yelling and singing: a virtual laboratory for what we had spent four months hearing was exactly what one must not do in the middle of this pandemic.

The experts who were warning us against the horrors of disease are now saying that the disease was not as dangerous as they had thought:

And yet, in very stark contrast to the vehement denunciations from public health experts of prior protests or out-of-the-home activities of any kind, virtually no prominent experts have denounced any of this on the ground that it will spread the coronavirus and ultimately kill more people (even though that is highly likely to happen). To the contrary, many infectious disease experts have done the exact opposite: they have endorsed and encouraged these mass street protests, claiming not that their support for them is grounded in their political values but in their health and scientific judgment. 

For example:

The epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo proclaimed last week that “we should always evaluate the risks and benefits of efforts to control the virus” — exactly the risk-benefit calculus that has been declared off-limits since February. With that license to balance arrogated unto herself, Dr. Nuzzo concluded that “in this moment the public health risks of not protesting to demand an end to systemic racism greatly exceed the harms of the virus.” In other words, if you care about public health, you should not remain at home out of fear of contracting or transmitting the coronavirus but do the opposite: leave your home to participate in these protests.

Politicizing science, anyone:

But perhaps the most egregious and illustrative example of the utter manipulation of public health science and expertise for nakedly political ends is found in the open letter that was originally crafted by epidemiologists at the University of Washington and then ultimately signed by 1,300 experts from around the country.

That letter, which made headlines in media outlets around the world, acknowledges that 1) these massive protests are likely to spread the coronavirus and result in deaths from COVID-19; 2) those harms from new infections are likely to fall disproportionately on African American and Latino citizens; and 3) the use of preventative measures such as social distancing and masks is very difficult to maintain at such protests. In other words, these protests — dedicated toward protecting the lives of minority citizens — are virtually certain to result in the deaths, perhaps in large numbers, of the very people they are designed to protect. 

Greenwald asks the salient question:

How is it remotely within the scope of the expertise of epidemiologists to pick and choose which political protests should be permitted and/or encouraged and which ones banned and/or denounced? Those are plainly political judgments, not scientific ones, and the shoddy, glaring conflation of them is nothing less than a manipulation, an abuse, of public health credentials. For scientists to purport to dictate which citizens can and cannot safely choose to leave their house — based not on health judgments but on their political ideology — is repressive, and certain to erode the credibility of their profession. 

Echoing Williams, Greenwald explains that the cost is the credibility of these so-called scientists:

But what we should not tolerate, and what the scientific community cannot permit if it is to retain its credibility, is the abuse and manipulation of health expertise for political ends. 

Good work, guys.


Sam L. said...

Dems and Leftists (but I repeat myself) change their minds every 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 seconds, so that they're never, Never, NEVER wrong...according to them. Uh huh. Sho nuff.

Sam L. said...

I am fortunate to have moved to a rural county last year. It's less than 300 square miles. Neighbors are not close.

Anonymous said...

A reply to Sam L's comment #1:

"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
- Alice in Wonderland...

Certain people appear to have had * a lot* of practice.
I would make my head spin.

No mind? Never matters.

- shoe

Anonymous said...

The credibility of the enlightenment is in tatters. The credibility of liberal democracy is even lower. This sickness pretends as if it can all play out internally, but if you notice, the positions of the players on the map are changing around. Everything the critics of republican government wrote about the experiment are beginning to play out once again. You may have a monarch, and you may have a dictator, but you will not have in between for long.

Leo G said...

Still think the left loves minorities? Thinking they promoted this bastardization to cull the numbers of the minorities!

Horrific Racists, all of them!