Unsettling

They might have gotten away with it if their Lancet published letter hadn’t insisted on a “willing suspension of disbelief”.*

The now-infamous letter, signed by 27 leading public health experts, said they stood together to ‘strongly condemn’ the theories which they said ‘do nothing but create fear, rumours, and prejudice’.

‘Prejudice’ here is just a stand-in for ‘racism.’ The word reinforced the “Trump is a racist” meme because he accurately called SARS-CoV-2 the Spanish flu German measles Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Wuhan flu.

A letter from 27 elite public health officials? In the Lancet?! They cite “prejudice”!!?

That moves the burden of supplying any actual evidence to the footnotes, which the MSM fact checkers never check, giving headline writers a free hand. Too good to check. Probably too complex to understand. And, as it turns out, not at all settled science (oxymoron alert) – despite the credentials and insistence of the signatories.

The letter in question was written by Peter Daszak, whose blatant conflict of interest goes unmentioned;

[H]e told his fellow signatories in an email that the letter would not be sent under the EcoHealth logo ‘and will not be identifiable as coming from any one organisation of person’.

The emails show he even considered not signing the letter himself, although in the end he did.

The idea, Daszak said, was for it to be coming from ‘a community supporting our colleagues’.

It condemned as conspiracy any thought that the CCP virus did not naturally emerge from wild animals. Of course, he stands by it.

The letter would have been more plausible if the Chinese Communist Party had actually been “rapid, open, and transparent” in “sharing of data” at the beginning of the outbreak, rather than the opposite. It would have been more believable if the Chinese hadn’t restricted travel internally, while leaving international flights out of Wuhan undisturbed. It would have been more credible if the Chinese hadn’t stonewalled the WHO investigation of which one Peter Daszak was a part. It would have been less suspicious if the US Department of Health and Human Services hadn’t redacted parts (which, absent the other prevarication, would have appeared unremarkable) of an email from Daszak to Anthony Fauci, who had used Daszak as a cutout to fund bat coronavirus research in Wuhan. Research which had all the qualities of gain-of-function despite Fauci’s ever less plausible denials.

Peter Daszak enlisted 26 scientists and the Lancet to spike scientific inquiry of a totalitarian regime’s response to a pandemic, which unequivocally began in their country (though they mounted laughable attempts to shift the blame to the US Army, and imports of frozen food)… in favor of self-interest tempered by political expediency. What he was really concerned about was his own reputation, funding, and relationship with the totalitarians in China… and in our own NIAID.

The scientific credibility of the ‘Public Health’ elite Daszak brought on board has been damaged. Worse, much worse, the credibility of public health science and science in general has suffered.

The Lancet consensus science (oxymoron alert) article rejected as “conspiracy” the possibility that the CCP virus could have originated in a lab. It claimed the CCP “worked diligently and effectively to rapidly identify the pathogen behind this outbreak” We knew the Chinese Politburo had by then already deleted a major bat coronavirus genome database, and had restricted the WHO team’s physical access to the wet market and to the labs.

Now the Lancet U-turns over Covid lab leak theory and publishes an ‘alternative view’ calling for a ‘transparent debate’ on the origins of the virus

After eighteen months the science is no longer settled.

We’d have far less vaccine resistance if we could place any trust in these ‘experts’ who think their most precious resource is credentials; when, actually, it’s trust. Credentialism corrupts absolutely. Trust is only protected by truth.

*H/T: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Scientific Mess-od

“If you thought that science was certain – well, that is just an error on your part.”

“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

-Richard Feynman

One thing we learned from the CCP virus is that we have unelected, credentialist politicians passing themselves off as scientists: Sinecurists for whom the scientific method is something “more honoured in the breach than in the observance.”

The consequences are predictable:
Misplaced trust: When trust in science fosters belief in pseudoscience and the benefits of critical evaluation

“We identify two critical determinants of vulnerability to pseudoscience. First, participants who trust science are more likely to believe and disseminate false claims that contain scientific references than false claims that do not. Second, reminding participants of the value of critical evaluation reduces belief in false claims, whereas reminders of the value of trusting science do not.”

You might think that means it is easier to persuade those with more education to apply critical thinking than to convince less credentialed people to do so. The rubes in flyover country are therefore more likely to qualify as domestic terrorists, by DHS definition, than the anointed.

Apparently it doesn’t work quite that way:
Americans with PhDs are the most reluctant to get vaccinated against COVID, study finds

Maybe that Carnegie Mellon University/University of Pittsburg study is bogus. Maybe the 10,000 PhDs in that study have their degrees in Education or ________ Studies, and see CCP virus vaccination as a plot against oppressed minorities.

Our President agrees with the plot theory. He sees the Tuskegee Experiment (not to be confused with the Tuskegee Airmen, Mr. President) as a reason blacks are vaccination hesitant.

Really? Joe, you’re this ‘ ‘ close to forcing every American to be vaccinated. Somehow resistance to that is comparable to an immoral government experiment on a handful of black men? 70 years ago? Under a Democrat President? … Actually, you would absolutely correct about the immorality in both cases. Too bad that you can’t understand the point. Because, if you did, you would have told the DHS that people who object to forced vaccination are not to be called terrorists.

All you accomplished was to remind blacks of something deserving an abject apology. Which has already been made, but it couldn’t have hurt to do it again instead of re-politicizing it.

You promoted racial discord for current political gain. You discouraged blacks from getting the protection you advertised. I know that is straight out of the Democrat Playbook… but SHAME! While it does reprise the theory that AIDS was developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to kill off African Americans and gays, it is unworthy of Hunter’s legacy.

OK. To atone for the Tuskegee Experiment atrocity, what could we do to encourage CCP virus vaccination? Make White people go first! Been there. Done that.

Back to the thinking of those of PhDs. Maybe they did apply critical thinking – noted the government positions change frequently by 180 degrees, have been worse than ineffective, and claim ‘science’ is being attacked when any diktat is questioned.

Is it possible those PhDs consider basing conclusions on pictures in the New York Times to be unscientific?:
CDC Took Mistaken Data on Delta Variant Transmissibility From a New York Times Infographic

The CDC makes national economic policy based on incorrect data in NYT pictures, and bases its disease prevention advice on CNN chyrons:
The Gay Festival Behind the CDC’s New Mask Guidelines
…instead of the Random Controlled Trials, which they insist on when evaluating everything else.

The word “method” is no longer to be inferred when the apparatchiks tell us to ‘follow the science.’

Peter “Jussie” Hotez

Dr. Peter Hotez was mentioned yesterday for his suggestion that hate crime laws be extended to the speech of anyone criticizing scientists bureaucrats he likes. Pointing out that Anthony Fauci lies about ‘the science’, for example, should be punished with jail time. Despite the fact that Fauci has admitted he lied.

Dr. Hotez naturally asked himself, “Who could take a new hate crime category seriously without new fake hate crimes?” Having anticipated the question, Dr. Hotez manufactured a Jussie Smollett caper implicating Sharyl Attkisson. Oops.

Hat tip to commenter Barry Meislin at The New Neo in Scientists must not be questioned or challenged by those on the right

Channeling Trofim Lysenko

Richard Feynman is likely to appear on every list of all time top 10 physicists.

He spoke extensively about the scientific method. For example, his 1974 commencement address at CalTech is a classic: Cargo Cult Science.

Shorter versions:

“No government has the right to decide on the truth of scientific principles, nor to prescribe in any way the character of the questions investigated. Neither may a government determine the aesthetic value of artistic creations, nor limit the forms of literacy or artistic expression. Nor should it pronounce on the validity of economic, historic, religious, or philosophical doctrines. Instead it has a duty to its citizens to maintain the freedom, to let those citizens contribute to the further adventure and the development of the human race.”

“Science is the organized skepticism in the reliability of expert opinion.”

-Richard P. Feynman

This would be news to Dr. Peter Hotez, whose television celebrity appears to have convinced him of his privilege: Professor suggests it should be a federal hate crime to criticize Fauci and other government-funded scientists

First, why don’t they all just identify as black and trans, and put themselves on the hate crime list? Isn’t critical race theory science? Isn’t biological sex just a patriarchal scientific myth?

Since Dr. Hotez’ suggestion requires federal guns, and more police, isn’t his speech an incitement to violence over someone else’s speech?

And if we’re going to do hate speech law by profession, how can politicians (including the ones with extensive private security who want police defunded, AND who threaten private citizens on Twitter) possibly be excluded? They’d certainly come before bureaucrats with a PhD following their name.

Dr. Hotez had this to say this to say on MSNBC:

“[Yo]u saw it play out at the CPAC Conference where they said this is nothing more than an effort for power and control and they’re going to use — first, they’re going to force vaccines on us and they’re going to take away our Bibles and our guns.”

Dr. Hotez would have a stronger case if the White House hadn’t already mandated vaccines for the military, and said, “A national vaccine requirement is not under consideration at this time.

The very fact that they say they aren’t considering a mandate “at this time” means they ARE indeed considering it, whether they ever do it or not. Otherwise, they could have said, “No.”

It would also have been better for his contentions had the IRS not removed tax exemptions from Christian 501(c)3 groups becauseThe bible teachings are typically affiliated with Republican party and its candidates.”

His case would further have improved if there were not dozens of elected officials constantly telling us they want to cancel the Second Amendment.

These are not lies, I’m sure he believes what he said. What he said is elitist ignorance, however.

Dr. Hotez also could have built a more consistent, if not more convincing case, had he included a plea for hate crime law protection of scientists like Charles Murray, Brett Weinstein, and Judith Curry; journalists like Andy Ngo, Tucker Carlson, and Bari Weiss; and authors like Abigail Schier, Lionel Shriver, and J.K. Rowling.

The real attack on science and scientists is when “scientists” lie deliberately. Dr. Fauci has admitted to having done so about masks and herd immunity.

I close with another quote from Dr. Feynman:

“The only way to have real success in science, the field I’m familiar with, is to describe the evidence very carefully without regard to the way you feel it should be. If you have a theory , you must try to explain what’s good and what’s bad about it equally. In science, you learn a kind of standard integrity and honesty.”

Lysenko? If you were looking for Dr. Feynman’s polar opposite, you could do worse than picking Trofim Lysenko. Dr. Peter Hotez would be a candidate for “not as extreme as Lysenko.” Hotez is not a complete fool in the scientific sense, and his ‘scientific’ authoritarianism is a milder form. But his arrogance is much the same, as is his lack of appreciation of the scientific method.

Mendastasizing mistrust in science

It started out with “noble” lies:
The CCP virus is not much threat to Americans
(the Chinese say no evidence it’s airborne, and they’re still sending flights out of Wuhan);
masks are unnecessary for the public
(well, that’s wrong, but the public can’t be trusted with the real reason);
the virus was not engineered
(at a lab leading the world leader recombinant coronavirus, to which Americans transferred the technology, and which partnered with the People’s Liberation Army… who strategized about weaponizing it);
the idea the virus escaped from that lab is not remotely credible
(even though it wouldn’t have been the first time, and the Chinese are obviously hiding data);
herd immunity is an ever growing percentage of the population
(gotta keep the plebes motivated).

Dr. Fauci has admitted many of these statements were intended to manipulate Americans. It gradually became plain none of it was based on science. These were political acts. In some cases he said things he knew to be false, in others he assured us of things he knew to be uncertain.

If you criticize him for this, he calls it an attack on science. Au contraire. Public policy making by deceit is not the action of a scientist.

This mendacity has caused outcomes opposite of his central plan. At the low consequence end it surely contributes, for example, to vaccine hesitancy. Not that he didn’t have help on that from the President and Vice President calling it the “Trump vaccine,” and hypocritical Governors ignoring their own mandates on masks*, lockdowns, and travel.

*And, uh… others:

July 2020

At the high impact end, he’s damaged the idea that our scientific institutions actually practice scientific methods. He’s mendastasized disrespect for science. See also, Michael Mann.

Now, defending himself with word games, Fauci expects to be believed in asserting his agency ever provided any funding for gain of function research in Wuhan. His personal stake in this matter does not make him more believable.

In fact, these dots can all be connected by assuming he was covering up the funding from the first. He approved waivers for it. His actions all are consistent with a desire never to be associated with it. He can’t be blamed for wishing the pandemic wasn’t real, but that is not what we pay him for. We pay him for applying the scientific method.

For all the ill effects of his haphazard, self-aggrandizing interference in public policy, the long term damage he has done to science is worse. THAT is the attack on science. Worse, he is not alone in this playing of politics by those who call themselves scientists.

Here comes Richard Feynman on “What is Science?” (1966). Read it. It’s funny, profound, humble, a defense of free thinking. It explains that words matter, but that a definition is just a label. It demonstrates that science is grounded on the idea of falsifiability. Which necessitates humility.

It is a paean to his father. An education in 10 minutes. I want you to read the whole thing, but I will provide one snippet:

[T]he importance of freedom of thought; the positive results that come from doubting that the lessons are all true. You must here distinguish–especially in teaching–the science from the forms or procedures that are sometimes used in developing science. It is easy to say, “We write, experiment, and observe, and do this or that.” You can copy that form exactly. But great religions are dissipated by following form without remembering the direct content of the teaching of the great leaders. In the same way, it is possible to follow form and call it science, but that is pseudo-science. In this way, we all suffer from the kind of tyranny we have today in the many institutions that have come under the influence of pseudoscientific advisers.

We have many studies in teaching, for example, in which people make observations, make lists, do statistics, and so on, but these do not thereby become established science, established knowledge. They are merely an imitative form of science analogous to the South Sea Islanders’ airfields–radio towers, etc., made out of wood. The islanders expect a great airplane to arrive. They even build wooden airplanes of the same shape as they see in the foreigners’ airfields around them, but strangely enough, their wood planes do not fly. The result of this pseudoscientific imitation is to produce experts, which many of you are. [But] you teachers, who are really teaching children at the bottom of the heap, can maybe doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

When someone says, “Science teaches such and such,” he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, “Science has shown such and such,” you might ask, “How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?”

It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at.

In a field which is so complicated [as education] that true science is not yet able to get anywhere, we have to rely on a kind of old-fashioned wisdom, a kind of definite straightforwardness. I am trying to inspire the teacher at the bottom to have some hope and some self-confidence in common sense and natural intelligence. The experts who are leading you may be wrong.

I have probably ruined the system, and the students that are coming into Caltech no longer will be any good. I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television–words, books, and so on–are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science.

Finally, with regard to this time-binding, a man cannot live beyond the grave. Each generation that discovers something from its experience must pass that on, but it must pass that on with a delicate balance of respect and disrespect, so that the [human] race–now that it is aware of the disease to which it is liable–does not inflict its errors too rigidly on its youth, but it does pass on the accumulated wisdom, plus the wisdom that it may not be wisdom.

It is necessary to teach both to accept and to reject the past with a kind of balance that takes considerable skill. Science alone of all the subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers of the preceding generation.

Feynman is probably spinning in his grave because of the adulation we give to people who pretend they are scientists. Spinning in his grave would come as quite a surprise to him.

I miss his brilliant humility.

For me, I haven’t yet got a grave to spin in. So I just weep.