Megan McArdle writes wisely about popular – and elite – attitudes toward science. Here’s her conclusion:
Yet I, for one, expected more out of lockdown and masking policies than we ultimately got, and I wonder how my analysis might have changed if I’d engaged more fully with skeptics. And as a matter of pure scientific analysis, screaming that anyone with a different opinion has joined a science-hating death cult seems to have been among social media’s most popular and least effective non-pharmaceutical interventions.
There’s little that can be done to fix any of that now, except for people who went overboard in dismissing the lab-leak theory to reconsider. And then ask if there are other policy areas where they confused scientists with “science,” value judgments with cold calculation, and a shaky elite consensus with hard scientific facts.
Research on the psychological impact of lockdowns remains extraordinarily stunted, save a few tentative papers on the effect of lockdowns on mental health and face masks on child development. A new academic project on the effects of restrictions, Global Collateral, has struggled to make headway. Leading Harvard epidemiologist Martin Kulldorff was recently suspended from Twitter after questioning the consensus on face masks, and whether the vaccine is necessary for children and those with prior natural infection.
Worryingly, freedom of speech on such controversial issues seems to be a one-way street. Prof Kulldorff is censored on Twitter for his perspective, and yet no less contentious contrasting opinions are given a free run. Take, for example, Oxford’s Prof Julian Savulescu, who has published high-profile papers arguing that mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations could be justified (“If people can be sent to war against their will, in certain circumstances some levels of coercion are justified in the war on the virus”). Prof Savulescu should be free to make his case without fear of cancellation – but so should his intellectual opponents.
Covid Derangement Syndrome and its straw-man spawn continue to haunt Australia. They do. (HT David Hart)
Tomorrow (June 2nd) will mark the three-month anniversary of the lifting of statewide Covid restrictions in Texas – a policy move that at the time was said by many, including the President of the United States, to be reckless. Since March 2nd, 2021, Covid cases in Texas have fallen rather steadily. As of yesterday (May 31st), the 7-day average of new Covid cases there was a mere 17 percent of what that average was on March 2nd.