steampunk heart

COVID-19 is one part public health, one part palaver

“Science,” wrote the philosopher Karl Popper, “begins with myths, and with criticising myths”.

If you don’t start by proving an idea wrong, evolve through trial and error, and go forward to ultimate success, you have not followed the scientific process.

‘Where is the science?’ gets repeated like an echo. Where? Science went AWOL. Pandemic experts and panicky health officers never learnt through trial and error. Quite the opposite; they are today where they began half a year ago, belabouring myths handed down from Wuhan and a United Nations organ named, aptly, WHO.

Had Popper lived to see what scientists do in a pandemic, he would have blown a fuse. He would call it anti-science, the way they keep repeating methods which already crushed and spat out whole countries in round one. The way contrary opinion gets ridiculed and cancelled is more than anti-science. It’s a menacing nick off the block of freedom, and we can thank dogma, PC narrative, groupthink and cult behaviour for doing us that disfavour.

Blame what you will, a disdain for open inquiry takes us back to medieval times. How are cancelling doubters and closing Twitter accounts any different to the medieval church excommunicating Copernicus? What it all amounts to is telling the scientific process to ‘hop it.’ Medics are as guilty as model builders; politicians as guilty as thought police; bureaucrats as guilty as rabbis; epidemiologists as guilty as school staff.

Here we are – facing down a plague on humanity with anti-science.

But drugs are science. Drugs are politics. Drugs are dirty business. If you vote Democrat the protocol of hydroxycloroquine, azithromycin and zinc is quack stuff because You-Know-Who in the White House takes it. If you vote Republican the protocol is a life-saving treatment for COVID-19 infection in the early stage.

Drugs, hard as it may be to grasp, are now viewed as a marker of political identity.

If you happen to be Editor of the prestigious Lancet medical journal, new drugs are your bread and butter. So if Gilead the pharma is an advertiser you dare not cross, you succumb and fill Lancet with a study tailor made to discredit the cheap protocol, allowing Gilead to market a costly drug for COVID-19 cases.

What if you just keep the Hippocratic Oath? You need a brave health professional to do that. Prescribe the politically wrong protocol and you risk being reported to a medical council and having your licence revoked, or lose tenure in your medical school. The not so brave break the Hippocratic Oath and let COVID-19 patients, in their thousands, lose the fight against the virus.

Well there’s PPE. Can’t be politics in equipment. Not very much science either. In a scientific paper authors bemoan “the increasing polarised and politicised views on whether to wear masks in public during the COVID-19 crisis.”

One thing there is a lot of in PPE and that is money.

And religion? It has nothing to offer communal conduct – a matter of ‘what should we do?’ To use the pulpit on the community is to enter politics.

Christianity and Judaism were never meant to address how an entire population should behave. Dealing with a population involves striking a balance between conflicting objectives for the good of all. Warning a community to observe social distancing and to shut down houses of prayer and stay home is for a political platform, not a pulpit.

When clerics or rabbis order churches or mosques or synagogues not to reopen even when lockdown rules allow them to, you have a different problem. It amounts to a specific lockdown on top of the general lockdown. It could be taken as one-upmanship; as telling the powers that be, ‘we value life more than you do.’ And there’s the matter of a conflict with the constitutional right to freedom of worship.

But there remains an all-encompassing problem. Should religious approval be lent to a government-ordered lockdown that gobbles lives and livelihoods at will and spits them out? Has God, in so many words, told the faithful what to do about collateral damage accompanying a lockdown? If the Mayor declares that saving one New Yorker from COVID-19 is worth destroying the lives of millions of New Yorkers, does canonical law have something to say about it?

Leave it to elected officials to weigh up conflicting objectives. It’s what the social contract is for.

Well then schooling. Where is dogma or PC narrative or groupthink or cult behaviour in keeping schools closed? Is science AWOL again? All those elements converge to make children pay a price both undeserved and of minor avail to public health. The experts agree. Schools must reopen. Celebrity scientist, Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Health and Robert Redfield, Director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, are emphatic that kids must return to school. Education experts come with scientific proof that school closure is a grievous error.

Reopening schools or keeping kids at home, as with all debates under the corona sun, divides by ideology. You’d think science would decide the matter here more than anywhere, but no. Witness radical teachers protesting in Washington D.C against school reopening by dumping fake body bags at the education department, waving posters saying, “RIP your favourite teacher,” and “Killed in the line of duty”.

Teachers wanting to keep schools closed is more about them than about school-goers. Maybe teachers kind of got used to getting full pay for relaxing at home.

Well – thankfully lockdowns are clean. Just about every country imposed one in some shape or form. Must be science somewhere in lockdowns.

Controlling people by edict is possibly a science.

You might not see it, but there could be science behind allowing you to stay in a hotel on a business trip but not on holiday. Or a dozen riddles of that stamp.

It’s not that humanity hasn’t been there before. In the year 1529 the ‘sweating sickness” dropped Londoners like flies. In Hilary Mantel’s novel, “Wolf Hall” I read: “The rule is for the household to hang a bunch of straw outside the door as sign of infection, then restrict entry for forty days, and go out as little as possible.”

Our architects of lockdown might take a leaf from a book of medieval wisdom.

Did even the smartest lockdown stop coronavirus coming back to bite in a post lockdown flare-up? Did one lockdown yield a benefit to public health above what it cost the country and its people? Mayhem goes with a lockdown as flour goes into baking bread.

Imagine what will be with a really bad lockdown. Government at best is a necessary evil. Government at worst is an intolerable evil. South Africa’s lockdown, going on for 130 days, is the case two type – evil yielding no health benefits but creating new evils by the day. It’s a lockdown which makes the powerless poor, poorer and the powerful rich, richer.

For a sour cherry on the top, the lockdown gives spiteful and petty touches of xenophobia an outlet. Linking foreigners with disease, South Africa’s first act to curb COVID-19 was to build a border fence with an even more desperate neighbour. For a second act it made migrant-owned shops in townships close down, so making the poor walk long ways to buy their bread and milk, so helping to spread the virus.

Surely then, is there nothing and nobody with a respect for science? Experts even?

Experts have turned a public health crisis into a cataclysm, an existential threat. Thanks to them, bureaucrats under the cloak of science invaded our civil liberties and might never return them.

It could explain why experts set the wheel of fear in motion.

The apocalypse began with experts. It has ended with faith in their infallibility untarnished.

Source: Steve Apfel – Arutz Sheva