How Have Our Scientific Experts Gotten So Much Wrong?
Masks don’t make a difference. Remember that? It was about two months ago. The consensus of scientific experts who must be obeyed unless one is a Trump-loving troglodyte assured us that there was no need to don a silly mask. Today, masks are the Holy Grail of stopping the virus. How did that happen? What do we know in July that we didn’t know in May? Why did other countries seem to know the supposed value of masks while we didn’t?
I’ll give you another one. On February 29, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Lord High Guru Of All Science, went on the “Today Show” and told Americans the virus was “low risk” and that we should not modify our behavior. Two weeks later we shut down the country and invited the most devastating economic collapse in generations. Again, how did that happen?
But of all the blunders by our elite intellects that must not be questioned, perhaps the most significant is one that President Trump pointed out in March only to be jeered and mocked. On March 4, the president told Sean Hannity that he had a hunch that the World Health Organization’s assertion that 3.4 percent of people who contracted the Chinese Virus would die was wrong. He said he believed the actual number was closer to .5 percent.
“Trump’s Gut Collides With Science,” mocked NPR. Even I threw shade at POTUS, not because I thought he was wrong but for using the term “hunch.” But guess what, folks? We now know that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “best estimate” for the mortality rate of the virus is .4 percent. Huh. Months after the mockery of him, it turns out Trump was right. It also turns out, and I know this is impossible so I can’t explain it, the scientific experts who must be obeyed were, how should I put this…um, (leans into microphone) “wrong.”
There have been a lot of mistakes made by our betters with fancy letters after their name, but perhaps none so consequential as the wildly inflated mortality rate back in February and March. To put it in perspective, at a 3.4 percent death rate if 50 million Americans contracted Covid, 1.7 million would die. At the mortality rate of .4 percent that number shrinks to 200,000. All loss of life is tragic, but scientists were having us destroy the economy and people’s lives based on a woefully faulty number.
At numerous times during this crisis our medical experts have seemed to have approximately the accuracy of a Magic 8 Ball displaying “signs point to yes.” They have gotten so much so wrong so often that we must reevaluate how we use the guidance they give. Instead of simply accepting that the experts’ models and predictions are a priori facts graven in stone on Mt. Sinai’s rock by the hand of God, we should be, well, a little more skeptical.
Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that anyone should disregard the expertise of scientists. But I am suggesting that we should look at it as one part of a complicated situation rather than allowing ourselves to be led off of a cliff we can see with our own eyes based solely on their findings. Perhaps the most important lesson of the coronavirus crisis is that being blinded by science is not a good thing. Science is a tool, not an oracle. It exists in a perpetual loop of proving itself wrong. In fact, that is pretty much its entire purpose.
So as we continue this struggle with the virus let’s keep that in mind. Let’s remember that the massive spikes in deaths predicted when Gov. Brian Kemp opened Georgia, or when Trump held a rally in Tulsa a month ago did not materialize. And yet still the science thumpers insist that we need to wait “2 more weeks.” Yes, its always 2 weeks away, and when it doesn’t happen it is still 2 weeks away. This is truly the Zeno’s paradox of communicable disease.
Should we listen to the experts? Sure. Should we blindly obey them without reference to our own common sense? That is what we have largely done so far and it has largely been a disaster.
David Marcus is the Federalist’s New York Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter, @BlueBoxDave.