“Let us pray, now, for science,” intoned a New York Times columnist back at the beginning of the Covid pandemic. The title of his article laid down the foundational faith of Trump-era liberalism: “Coronavirus is What You Get When You Ignore Science.”
“Ten months later, at the end of a scary article about the history of “gain of function” research and its possible role in the still ongoing Covid pandemic, Nicholson Baker wrote as follows: “This may be the great scientific meta-experiment of the 21st century. Could a world full of scientists do all kinds of reckless recombinant things with viral diseases for many years and successfully avoid a serious outbreak? The hypothesis was that, yes, it was doable. The risk was worth taking. There would be no pandemic.”
“Except there was. If it does indeed turn out that the lab-leak hypothesis is the right explanation for how it began — that the common people of the world have been forced into a real-life lab experiment, at tremendous cost — there is a moral earthquake on the way.
“Because if the hypothesis is right, it will soon start to dawn on people that our mistake was not insufficient reverence for scientists, or inadequate respect for expertise, or not enough censorship on Facebook. It was a failure to think critically about all of the above, to understand that there is no such thing as absolute expertise. Think of all the disasters of recent years: economic neoliberalism, destructive trade policies, the Iraq War, the housing bubble, banks that are “too big to fail,” mortgage-backed securities, the Hillary Clinton campaign of 2016 — all of these disasters brought to you by the total, self-assured unanimity of the highly educated people who are supposed to know what they’re doing, plus the total complacency of the highly educated people who are supposed to be supervising them.”
Let’s make a distinction between:
1. ‘ignoring science’, which implies believing in something other than science, and,
2. ‘believing in science’, and
3. ‘not believing in things at all’.
By which I mean, not believing anything anyone says until you have thought about it. Which implies understanding how science works, which implies possessing the skill of ‘thinking critically’ about something.
People don’t like doing it.
It’s easier to believe, because then you don’t have to think.
Until something bad happens. Like Covid.
So if Covid escaped from a lab, who can we trust?
Answer, don’t trust anyone, gather information and think.
Thinking is underrated. ‘They’ don’t want you to do it, which is OK, but only if ‘they’ are doing the thinking for you.
Turns out they were lazy, and didn’t think.
And millions died.
Dr. Ian Malcolm :
“Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.“