“Every idiot believes what his teachers tell him, and he calls his gullibility science.”George Bernard Shaw
The coronavirus crisis has served as a powerful tool in highlighting many of the faults that previously existed in society. It exposed which politicians have an inherent need to control and which ones are guided by humility. It reminded us of the political power that lies in fear, and how crucial it is to be skeptical of prevailing narratives. It emphasized the different economic realities for those who live paycheck to paycheck and those who benefit from economic financialization.
It should also make perfectly clear the danger of handing over healthcare to the state.
Already we have seen agents of the state, at various levels, seek to leverage a viral medical crisis to expand their power. Governors and local officials have sought to use vague “emergency” powers to lock down businesses and to create criminal penalties, and have then attacked any attempts by judiciaries to rein in their actions. Judges have sought to leverage the power they hold in deciding child custody to force citizens to make medical decisions they disagree with. Anointed government experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, in spite of his own inconsistencies, have been held up as the final word on science, at the expense of the voices of other credible scientists.
Whether by design or by the instinctual reaction, we have seen a concerted effort of government authorities—amplified by a corporate press with a particularly vivid political agenda, and supported by the credentials of an academic landscape that suffers from ideological capture—to weaponize a centralized scientific narrative for the purpose of achieving certain policy ends. It is appropriate that some have dubbed this union “the Cathedral,” as we have seen the divine right of kings renewed in the divine right of approved scientists.
None of this should be a surprise.
Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Murray N. Rothbard, and others have long warned of the dangers of “scientism.” As Jonathan Newman has noted on this site, we’ve seen it play out increasingly in American pop culture with the fetishizing of figures like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye.
Now, luckily, the current healthcare system has limits on the degree to which we, as individuals, must submit to the power of the “scientific consensus.” How long, however, will that doctor-patient relationship remain sacred?
This week dozens of esteemed medical experts with blue-chip academic credentials published a warning about the destructive policies adopted to address Covid-19. Since the Sunday publication of this “Great Barrington Declaration” more than a thousand biological scientists and more than 1,500 medical practitioners have added their names to the petition. Yet it’s been almost entirely ignored by the media outlets that spend much of their days presenting themselves as obedient to science.
Maybe this is because the accomplished group of scientists behind the declaration is refusing to obey political narratives. According to the petition:
Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.
The scientists go on to note that the poor are “disproportionately harmed” by current policies and that for children, “COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.” They add that the best approach “is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”