Yesterday’s corona-virus response Senate hearings shone a bright light on the biggest problem of this pandemic. It is not our preparedness, or lack thereof. It is the willingness of people to politicize this crisis, exploiting the disease, suffering, death that comes with it for their own political purposes. I don’t really care that these people don’t care about us. I just don’t like that they speak so sanctimoniously about how much they do care when they only really care about themselves.
It was obvious that very few of the Senators were interested in using this forum and their questions to get answers to better inform the public in an effort to keep them safe and healthy. Nor was it an exercise to improve our future pandemic preparedness and response. The purpose of this hearing was primarily to score political points to sway the upcoming election under the guise of scientific inquiry. Most of the questions were loaded with political undertones, and misinformation.
Most politicians use science the way a drunk uses a lamp post, for support rather than illumination. Science has become the new buzzword used by politicians to strong-arm opponents into sided with them. “You are anti-science,” is screamed at people who disagree with them. “I’m following the science,” is used to justify certain political decisions or policies. The word “science” is used as both a weapon and a shield. And flashing the credentials of a scientist gives you instant credibility, and your conclusions become unquestioned.
Only billionaire software moguls trying to make billions by monopolizing the worldwide vaccine industry don’t need scientific credentials to sway scientific debate, and public policy.
But how pure is the science that is being used? How good are the scientists we rely on? There are incompetent scientists producing bad science in the world. Science and scientists can be wrong, as we have seen many times in this crisis. So how do we know what to believe? Science is a human endeavor, and everything that humans touch have the potential of being corrupted and exploited. The moniker “scientist” should never bestow instant credibility any more than saying you’re a “quarterback” makes you Tom Brady.
A red flag should pop up when politics are involved and politicians are using scientific claims to promote their agendas. Politics and science do not mix. Science is about using facts and evidence in a unending pursuit of truth and discovery. Politics is about using and exploiting things like science in an unending pursuit of power and wealth.
The key to good science is a pure scientific process that is driven by evidence and data. But they can easily be corrupted by politics, money and fame. How pure are the motives of the scientists and decision makers when there are trillions of taxpayer dollars at stake, billions of dollars that can be gained from a cure or vaccine, and wresting the control of the most powerful government in the world?
We have been told countless times on many issues that the “science is settled,” which means there can be no more discussion. Politicians use this assertion to unscientifically shut down debate and stop skeptical scrutiny of their scientific claims. The science is never settled. Debate and skepticism is the lifeblood of science.
Every great scientist at one point of their lives was called a heretic, Copernicus, Galileo, Pasteur, Newton. They refused to toe the line of settled science, and thank God they did. Every new discovery requires the breaking down of the walls of agreed upon knowledge.
True science welcomes debate, thrives on scrutiny. If the scientific conclusions of the scientists are indeed accurate, they will stand up to debate, and get stronger through scrutiny. Corrupt politicians stifle debate because they are only interested in power. So ask the extra question. Take the opposing side. Scrutinize the prevailing narrative. Challenge the settled science. Because that’s what actual scientists do, and that’s where true scientific discovery resides.