“The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics.” Michael Crichton
The idea that we hear a lot about in today’s politicized science, especially about Covid, are phrases like “the science is settled” and “believe in science.” Such statements have always bothered me because as an engineer I was always taught that science is a process, a discipline of constantly asking questions in order to gain knowledge, and not some static dogma that ends further questioning and therefore stunts the growth of knowledge. Further, science is not a question of belief but a process of thinking, which if ended because something is deemed settled, leads to ignorance.
This phenomenon of consensus science is problematic for two reasons, i.e. it seeks to make final whatever is pronounced to be settled and therefore becomes a moral or value judgement. This does not serve science at all, but is useful politically because moral and value judgements are the tools of politics, which always seeks to make those that have a different or contrary thought to be wrong minded.
So we should consider the WHO, CDC and the FDA, and the recipients of much revenue garnered from the lack of science by these politicized organizations, the pharmaceutical industry. First, I must make clear that I elected to be vaccinated. It was a difficult decision for me to make because the lack of clear communication and the contradictory statements from the proponents of vaccines served more to confuse than enlighten. It started with the claims of efficacy from the two major producers of some 90-95% which, when compared to the duration of development and testing of a drug based on a relatively new process called mRNA, seemed at best overstated. Then the accounts of some negative reactions and infections of those vaccinated only added to the dilemma. Seeing how seniors such as myself were the most at risk from Covid I was placed in the unfortunate position of making a judgement in an environment of factual chaos.
The organizations we rely on were further put to task with their science-is-settled dogma as the virus evolved, as viruses are want to do, with the Delta, Omicron and yet to be named variants. I guess Covid didn’t get the memo about the science being settled, proving again that consensus is not science. Albert Einstein once modestly rejected the idea that he was the father of modern science. He said that Galileo was the father of modern science, who once wrote that “In science the opinions of a thousand are not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man.”
Over the course of time men like Galileo developed a process we today call the scientific method. A predecessor to Galileo was Leonardo da Vinci who wrote that “All sciences are vain and full of errors that are not born of experience, the mother of all knowledge.” Experience is something humanity has had a great deal of and will hopefully have for a long time to come and that is what experience takes, time. The scientific method or process is in three parts:
- Verifiability/Falsifiability – a theory, proposition, or prediction is subjected to experiments, i.e. empirical process to show it’s either true or false.
- Replicability – the experiment, or test, can be repeated by anyone and achieve the same results.
- Causation – simply put, correlation is not a proof. The experiment, to be valid, can’t be something that makes the theory look like what it proposed but actually causes the result.
What has been verified is that mRNA is a process that can produce a useful vaccine, but like the seasonal flu vaccine, it’s nowhere near the efficacy claimed. While mRNA research has been developed over decades, starting with Robert Malone in 1987, the first vaccine created from it for human use was for Covid. It is not mRNA that is in question here; while it presents many questions regarding its genetic basis, that is not the subject of this post, but perhaps a future one. What is at issue here is the vaccine produced and how it was presented. It was a great achievement but not what was touted by government agencies, health organizations and the media. If it were, then there would have been no reason for the government to have extended immunity from prosecution to the producers. What all these actors did was to tell us that their consensus was that we should trust them and get vaccinated, and further, for many, do so or lose their job. That’s not science; that’s what you get in authoritarian regimes like China, Cuba, or Russia.
Good ideas do not require mandates, but transparency. Science is not some magical process to be held as a belief, and one that we are coercively required to follow or be subjected to some punitive action like loss of livelihood. It remains to be seen if such draconian edicts against our basic liberties will be tolerated or struck down, but we should remember that the worst ideas are those created by consensus and invariably require compulsion.