Posts Tagged ‘corona’

Science is a methodology to find or approximate reliable information. It is not something you “believe in” as though it were a religion.

Science can inform decision making. Science cannot make a decision.

Based on the best available data (-which is always subject to new observation), science can suggest that the novel coronavirus is more deadly than most influenza viruses. Science can suggest methods of reducing propagation of the virus among the population. Science can suggest probable outcomes from various policies.

Science cannot decide the relative importance of allowing greater economic activity versus suppressing activity in order to reduce the rate of viral infection. Science cannot balance the number of deaths from infection against the loss of livelihood due to unemployment, depression and suicide due to social isolation, or unintended consequences of delaying “elective” medical procedures. Science cannot assign moral value.

Take the classic “trolley problem” and its variants. In the trolley problem, science will tell you that if you flip the switch, a certain set of individuals will die, and that if you do nothing, a different set of individuals will die. Science does not tell you whether to flip the switch.

When a politician of any party tells you that they are making a policy decision based on science, they are implying a value. That implied value might be reasonable. You may agree with that value. But be aware that they sneaked in the value through the back door.