Discussion:
How Science Lost the Public’s Trust
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Michael Ejercito
2021-07-26 13:34:17 UTC
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http://archive.vn/iqtnz#selection-4029.177-4029.321


How Science Lost the Public’s Trust
From climate to Covid, politics and hubris have disconnected scientific
institutions from the philosophy and method that ought to guide them.
By Tunku Varadarajan
July 23, 2021 2:00 pm ET
PRINT
TEXT
581

British science writer Matt Ridley.
PHOTO: KEN FALLIN
‘Science” has become a political catchword. “I believe in science,” Joe
Biden tweeted six days before he was elected president. “ Donald Trump
doesn’t. It’s that simple, folks.”
But what does it mean to believe in science? The British science writer
Matt Ridley draws a pointed distinction between “science as a
philosophy” and “science as an institution.” The former grows out of the
Enlightenment, which Mr. Ridley defines as “the primacy of rational and
objective reasoning.” The latter, like all human institutions, is
erratic, prone to falling well short of its stated principles. Mr.
Ridley says the Covid pandemic has “thrown into sharp relief the
disconnect between science as a philosophy and science as an institution.”
Mr. Ridley, 63, describes himself as a “science critic, which is a
profession that doesn’t really exist.” He likens his vocation to that of
an art critic and dismisses most other science writers as
“cheerleaders.” That somewhat lofty attitude seems fitting for a
hereditary English peer. As the fifth Viscount Ridley, he’s a member of
Britain’s House of Lords, and he Zooms with me from his ancestral seat
in Northumberland, just south of Scotland, in between sessions of
Parliament (which he also attends by Zoom).
At Oxford nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Ridley studied the mating patterns of
pheasants. His fieldwork involved much crouching in long country grass
to figure out why these “jolly interesting” birds are polygamous—unlike
most other avians. With the Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan,
he’s finishing a book called “Viral: The Search for the Origin of
Covid-19,” to be published in November.
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It will likely make its authors unwelcome in China. As Mr. Ridley worked
on the book, he says, it became “horribly clear” that Chinese scientists
are “not free to explain and reveal everything they’ve been doing with
bat viruses.” That information has to be “dug out” by outsiders like him
and Ms. Chan. The Chinese authorities, he says, ordered all scientists
to send their results relevant to the virus for approval by the
government before other scientists or international agencies could vet
them: “That is shocking in the aftermath of a lethal pandemic that has
killed millions and devastated the world.”
Mr. Ridley notes that the question of Covid’s origin has “mostly been
tackled by people outside the mainstream scientific establishment.”
People inside not only have been “disappointingly incurious” but have
tried to shut down the inquiry “to protect the reputation of science as
an institution.” The most obvious reason for this resistance: If Covid
leaked from a lab, and especially if it developed there, “science finds
itself in the dock.”
Other factors have been at play as well. Scientists are as sensitive as
other elites to charges of racism, which the Communist Party used to
evade questions about specifically Chinese practices “such as the trade
in wildlife for food or lab experiments on bat coronaviruses in the city
of Wuhan.”
Scientists are a global guild, and the Western scientific community has
“come to have a close relationship with, and even a reliance on, China.”
Scientific journals derive considerable “income and input” from China,
and Western universities rely on Chinese students and researchers for
tuition revenue and manpower. All that, Mr. Ridley says, “may have to
change in the wake of the pandemic.”
In the U.K., he has also noted “a tendency to admire authoritarian China
among scientists that surprised some people.” It didn’t surprise Mr.
Ridley. “I’ve noticed for years,” he says, “that scientists take a
somewhat top-down view of the political world, which is odd if you think
about how beautifully bottom-up the evolutionary view of the natural
world is.”
He asks: “If you think biological complexity can come about through
unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would
you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?” Science as
an institution has “a naive belief that if only scientists were in
charge, they would run the world well.” Perhaps that’s what politicians
mean when they declare that they “believe in science.” As we’ve seen
during the pandemic, science can be a source of power.
But there’s a “tension between scientists wanting to present a unified
and authoritative voice,” on the one hand, and science-as-philosophy,
which is obligated to “remain open-minded and be prepared to change its
mind.” Mr. Ridley fears “that the pandemic has, for the first time,
seriously politicized epidemiology.” It’s partly “the fault of outside
commentators” who hustle scientists in political directions. “I think
it’s also the fault of epidemiologists themselves, deliberately
publishing things that fit with their political prejudices or ignoring
things that don’t.”
Epidemiologists are divided between those who want more lockdowns and
those who think that approach wasn’t effective and might have been
counterproductive. Mr. Ridley sides with the latter camp, and he’s
dismissive of the alarmist modeling that led to lockdowns in the first
place. “The modeling of where the pandemic might go,” he says, “presents
itself as an entirely apolitical project. But there have been too many
cases of epidemiologists presenting models based on rather extreme
assumption.”
One motivation: Pessimism sells. “You don’t get blamed for being too
pessimistic, but you do get attention. It’s like climate science.
Modeled forecasts of a future that is scary is much more likely to get
you on television.” Mr. Ridley invokes Michael Crichton, the late
science-fiction novelist, who hated the tendency to describe the
outcomes of models in words that imply they are the “results” of an
experiment. That frames speculation as if it were proof.
Climate science is already far down the road to politicization. “Twenty
or 30 years ago,” Mr. Ridley says, “you could study how the ice ages
happened and discuss competing theories without being at all political
about it.” Now it’s very hard to have a conversation on the subject
“without people trying to interpret it through a political lens.”
Mr. Ridley describes himself as “lukewarm” on climate change. He accepts
that humans have made the climate warmer, but doesn’t subscribe to any
of the catastrophist views that call for radical changes in human
behavior and consumption. His nuanced position hasn’t protected him from
attack, of course, and the British left is prone to vilify him as a
“denier.”
Climate science has also been “infected by cultural relativism and
postmodernism,” Mr. Ridley says. He cites a paper that was critical of
glaciology—the study of glaciers—“because it wasn’t sufficiently
feminist.” I wonder if he’s kidding, but Google confirms he isn’t. In
2016 Progress in Human Geography published “Glaciers, gender, and
science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change
research.”
The politicization of science leads to a loss of confidence in science
as an institution. The distrust may be justified but leaves a vacuum,
often filled by a “much more superstitious approach to knowledge.” To
such superstition Mr. Ridley attributes public resistance to
technologies such as genetically modified food, nuclear power—and vaccines.
If you spurn Covid-19 vaccination, Mr. Ridley says he would “fervently
argue” that it is “the lesser of two risks, at least for adults.” We
have “ample data to show that—for this vaccine, and for others, going
back centuries.” He calls vaccination “probably the most massive and
incredible benefit of scientific knowledge.” Yet it’s “counterintuitive
and difficult to understand,” which may explain why its advocates have
been vilified through the centuries.
He cites the example of Mary Wortley Montagu, a British aristocrat, who
pushed for smallpox inoculation in Britain after witnessing its
administration in Ottoman Turkey in the early 18th century. She was
viciously pilloried, he says, as was Zabdiel Boylston, a celebrated
Boston doctor who inoculated residents against smallpox during a
smallpox outbreak in 1721.
Vaccines have been central to the question of “misinformation” and the
White House’s pressure campaign against social media to censor it. Mr.
Ridley worries about the opposite problem: that social media “is
complicit in enforcing conformity.” It does this “through ‘fact
checking,’ mob pile-ons, and direct censorship, now explicitly at the
behest of the Biden administration.” He points out that Facebook and
Wikipedia long banned any mention of the possibility that the virus
leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.
“Conformity,” Mr. Ridley says, “is the enemy of scientific progress,
which depends on disagreement and challenge. Science is the belief in
the ignorance of experts, as [the physicist Richard] Feynman put it.”
Mr. Ridley reserves his bluntest criticism for “science as a
profession,” which he says has become “rather off-puttingly arrogant and
political, permeated by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.”
Increasing numbers of scientists “seem to fall prey to groupthink, and
the process of peer-reviewing and publishing allows dogmatic
gate-keeping to get in the way of new ideas and open-minded challenge.”
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. “The Taiwanese said, ‘We’re picking up signs that this is
a human-to-human transmission that threatens a major epidemic. Please,
will you investigate?’ And the WHO basically said, ‘You’re from Taiwan.
We’re not allowed to talk to you.’ ”
He notes that WHO’s primary task is forestalling pandemics. Yet in 2015
it “put out a statement saying that the greatest threat to human health
in the 21st century is climate change. Now that, to me, suggests an
organization not focused on the day job.”
In Mr. Ridley’s view, the scientific establishment has always had a
tendency “to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma
and expelling heretics and blasphemers.” This tendency was previously
kept in check by the fragmented nature of the scientific enterprise:
Prof. A at one university built his career by saying that Prof. B’s
ideas somewhere else were wrong. In the age of social media, however,
“the space for heterodoxy is evaporating.” So those who believe in
science as philosophy are increasingly estranged from science as an
institution. It’s sure to be a costly divorce.
Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American
Enterprise Institute and at New York University’s Classical Liberal
Institute.
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HeartDoc Andrew
2021-07-26 15:11:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Michael Ejercito
http://archive.vn/iqtnz#selection-4029.177-4029.321
How Science Lost the Public’s Trust
From climate to Covid, politics and hubris have disconnected scientific
institutions from the philosophy and method that ought to guide them.
By Tunku Varadarajan
July 23, 2021 2:00 pm ET
PRINT
TEXT
581
British science writer Matt Ridley.
PHOTO: KEN FALLIN
‘Science” has become a political catchword. “I believe in science,” Joe
Biden tweeted six days before he was elected president. “ Donald Trump
doesn’t. It’s that simple, folks.”
But what does it mean to believe in science? The British science writer
Matt Ridley draws a pointed distinction between “science as a
philosophy” and “science as an institution.” The former grows out of the
Enlightenment, which Mr. Ridley defines as “the primacy of rational and
objective reasoning.” The latter, like all human institutions, is
erratic, prone to falling well short of its stated principles. Mr.
Ridley says the Covid pandemic has “thrown into sharp relief the
disconnect between science as a philosophy and science as an institution.”
Mr. Ridley, 63, describes himself as a “science critic, which is a
profession that doesn’t really exist.” He likens his vocation to that of
an art critic and dismisses most other science writers as
“cheerleaders.” That somewhat lofty attitude seems fitting for a
hereditary English peer. As the fifth Viscount Ridley, he’s a member of
Britain’s House of Lords, and he Zooms with me from his ancestral seat
in Northumberland, just south of Scotland, in between sessions of
Parliament (which he also attends by Zoom).
At Oxford nearly 40 years ago, Mr. Ridley studied the mating patterns of
pheasants. His fieldwork involved much crouching in long country grass
to figure out why these “jolly interesting” birds are polygamous—unlike
most other avians. With the Canadian molecular biologist Alina Chan,
he’s finishing a book called “Viral: The Search for the Origin of
Covid-19,” to be published in November.
NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP
Opinion: Morning Editorial Report
All the day's Opinion headlines.
PREVIEW
SUBSCRIBE
It will likely make its authors unwelcome in China. As Mr. Ridley worked
on the book, he says, it became “horribly clear” that Chinese scientists
are “not free to explain and reveal everything they’ve been doing with
bat viruses.” That information has to be “dug out” by outsiders like him
and Ms. Chan. The Chinese authorities, he says, ordered all scientists
to send their results relevant to the virus for approval by the
government before other scientists or international agencies could vet
them: “That is shocking in the aftermath of a lethal pandemic that has
killed millions and devastated the world.”
Mr. Ridley notes that the question of Covid’s origin has “mostly been
tackled by people outside the mainstream scientific establishment.”
People inside not only have been “disappointingly incurious” but have
tried to shut down the inquiry “to protect the reputation of science as
an institution.” The most obvious reason for this resistance: If Covid
leaked from a lab, and especially if it developed there, “science finds
itself in the dock.”
Other factors have been at play as well. Scientists are as sensitive as
other elites to charges of racism, which the Communist Party used to
evade questions about specifically Chinese practices “such as the trade
in wildlife for food or lab experiments on bat coronaviruses in the city
of Wuhan.”
Scientists are a global guild, and the Western scientific community has
“come to have a close relationship with, and even a reliance on, China.”
Scientific journals derive considerable “income and input” from China,
and Western universities rely on Chinese students and researchers for
tuition revenue and manpower. All that, Mr. Ridley says, “may have to
change in the wake of the pandemic.”
In the U.K., he has also noted “a tendency to admire authoritarian China
among scientists that surprised some people.” It didn’t surprise Mr.
Ridley. “I’ve noticed for years,” he says, “that scientists take a
somewhat top-down view of the political world, which is odd if you think
about how beautifully bottom-up the evolutionary view of the natural
world is.”
He asks: “If you think biological complexity can come about through
unplanned emergence and not need an intelligent designer, then why would
you think human society needs an ‘intelligent government’?” Science as
an institution has “a naive belief that if only scientists were in
charge, they would run the world well.” Perhaps that’s what politicians
mean when they declare that they “believe in science.” As we’ve seen
during the pandemic, science can be a source of power.
But there’s a “tension between scientists wanting to present a unified
and authoritative voice,” on the one hand, and science-as-philosophy,
which is obligated to “remain open-minded and be prepared to change its
mind.” Mr. Ridley fears “that the pandemic has, for the first time,
seriously politicized epidemiology.” It’s partly “the fault of outside
commentators” who hustle scientists in political directions. “I think
it’s also the fault of epidemiologists themselves, deliberately
publishing things that fit with their political prejudices or ignoring
things that don’t.”
Epidemiologists are divided between those who want more lockdowns and
those who think that approach wasn’t effective and might have been
counterproductive. Mr. Ridley sides with the latter camp, and he’s
dismissive of the alarmist modeling that led to lockdowns in the first
place. “The modeling of where the pandemic might go,” he says, “presents
itself as an entirely apolitical project. But there have been too many
cases of epidemiologists presenting models based on rather extreme
assumption.”
One motivation: Pessimism sells. “You don’t get blamed for being too
pessimistic, but you do get attention. It’s like climate science.
Modeled forecasts of a future that is scary is much more likely to get
you on television.” Mr. Ridley invokes Michael Crichton, the late
science-fiction novelist, who hated the tendency to describe the
outcomes of models in words that imply they are the “results” of an
experiment. That frames speculation as if it were proof.
Climate science is already far down the road to politicization. “Twenty
or 30 years ago,” Mr. Ridley says, “you could study how the ice ages
happened and discuss competing theories without being at all political
about it.” Now it’s very hard to have a conversation on the subject
“without people trying to interpret it through a political lens.”
Mr. Ridley describes himself as “lukewarm” on climate change. He accepts
that humans have made the climate warmer, but doesn’t subscribe to any
of the catastrophist views that call for radical changes in human
behavior and consumption. His nuanced position hasn’t protected him from
attack, of course, and the British left is prone to vilify him as a
“denier.”
Climate science has also been “infected by cultural relativism and
postmodernism,” Mr. Ridley says. He cites a paper that was critical of
glaciology—the study of glaciers—“because it wasn’t sufficiently
feminist.” I wonder if he’s kidding, but Google confirms he isn’t. In
2016 Progress in Human Geography published “Glaciers, gender, and
science: A feminist glaciology framework for global environmental change
research.”
The politicization of science leads to a loss of confidence in science
as an institution. The distrust may be justified but leaves a vacuum,
often filled by a “much more superstitious approach to knowledge.” To
such superstition Mr. Ridley attributes public resistance to
technologies such as genetically modified food, nuclear power—and vaccines.
If you spurn Covid-19 vaccination, Mr. Ridley says he would “fervently
argue” that it is “the lesser of two risks, at least for adults.” We
have “ample data to show that—for this vaccine, and for others, going
back centuries.” He calls vaccination “probably the most massive and
incredible benefit of scientific knowledge.” Yet it’s “counterintuitive
and difficult to understand,” which may explain why its advocates have
been vilified through the centuries.
He cites the example of Mary Wortley Montagu, a British aristocrat, who
pushed for smallpox inoculation in Britain after witnessing its
administration in Ottoman Turkey in the early 18th century. She was
viciously pilloried, he says, as was Zabdiel Boylston, a celebrated
Boston doctor who inoculated residents against smallpox during a
smallpox outbreak in 1721.
Vaccines have been central to the question of “misinformation” and the
White House’s pressure campaign against social media to censor it. Mr.
Ridley worries about the opposite problem: that social media “is
complicit in enforcing conformity.” It does this “through ‘fact
checking,’ mob pile-ons, and direct censorship, now explicitly at the
behest of the Biden administration.” He points out that Facebook and
Wikipedia long banned any mention of the possibility that the virus
leaked from a Wuhan laboratory.
“Conformity,” Mr. Ridley says, “is the enemy of scientific progress,
which depends on disagreement and challenge. Science is the belief in
the ignorance of experts, as [the physicist Richard] Feynman put it.”
Mr. Ridley reserves his bluntest criticism for “science as a
profession,” which he says has become “rather off-puttingly arrogant and
political, permeated by motivated reasoning and confirmation bias.”
Increasing numbers of scientists “seem to fall prey to groupthink, and
the process of peer-reviewing and publishing allows dogmatic
gate-keeping to get in the way of new ideas and open-minded challenge.”
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. “The Taiwanese said, ‘We’re picking up signs that this is
a human-to-human transmission that threatens a major epidemic. Please,
will you investigate?’ And the WHO basically said, ‘You’re from Taiwan.
We’re not allowed to talk to you.’ ”
He notes that WHO’s primary task is forestalling pandemics. Yet in 2015
it “put out a statement saying that the greatest threat to human health
in the 21st century is climate change. Now that, to me, suggests an
organization not focused on the day job.”
In Mr. Ridley’s view, the scientific establishment has always had a
tendency “to turn into a church, enforcing obedience to the latest dogma
and expelling heretics and blasphemers.” This tendency was previously
Prof. A at one university built his career by saying that Prof. B’s
ideas somewhere else were wrong. In the age of social media, however,
“the space for heterodoxy is evaporating.” So those who believe in
science as philosophy are increasingly estranged from science as an
institution. It’s sure to be a costly divorce.
Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American
Enterprise Institute and at New York University’s Classical Liberal
Institute.
Actually, science is neither a philosophy nor an institution but
rather a process to find the truth (John 14:6), Who is GOD, in Whom
we, the people of the U.S., trust as "one nation under GOD."

The only *healthy* way to stop the pandemic, thereby saving lives, in
the U.S. & elsewhere is by rapidly ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
finding out at any given moment, including even while on-line, who
among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e pre-symptomatic or
asymptomatic) in order to http://bit.ly/convince_it_forward (John
15:12) for them to call their doctor and self-quarantine per their
doctor in hopes of stopping this pandemic. Thus, we're hoping for the
best while preparing for the worse-case scenario of the Alpha lineage
mutations and others like the Gamma, Beta, Epsilon, Iota, Lambda &
Delta lineage mutations combining to form hybrids that render current
COVID vaccines no longer effective.

Indeed, I am wonderfully hungry ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
and hope you, Michael, also have a healthy appetite too.

So how are you ?








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2024 & upwards non-partisan candidate for U.S. President:
http://HeartMDPhD.com/WonderfullyHungryPresident
and author of the 2PD-OMER Approach:
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which is the only **healthy** cure for the U.S. healthcare crisis
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