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Scientists must accept what they did wrong about Covid

Scientists must accept what they did wrong about Covid


Our long-running pandemic inspiration the moment of the videoconference brings several advantages, including the convenience of having to live and wear the piece above the waist (in my case, wearing basketball shorts and house shoes below the reach of the webcam), how it pushed us. be creative in approaches to sharing our work.

In March 2021, I was able to give a research seminar at the University of Chicago — to an audience full of reputable intelligent scary people — without the risk of being screamed at or thrown at me.

The freedom of video conferencing prompted me to try different things. For this seminar, I devoted precious time to informing the audience of the wrong predictions and ideas. Not about my broken NCAA parenthesis, but about the many ways my first assumptions and predictions about the Covid-19 pandemic were wrong. In doing so, I hoped to give myself an intellectual challenge (to say something intelligent about being wrong), as well as hide my insecurity, the imposter’s syndrome, and my fear of speaking to an audience of incredibly intelligent people. This strategy is more than a weird look: dissecting the wrong idea in front of everyone, I would point out that I was really horrible.

The self-serving aspects of the approach were not, however, the only motivations for admitting that I was wrong. Over the past year I have been disappointed with the general reluctance of the scientific community to clearly discuss when and why we are wrong, and specifically in the study and prognosis of the pandemic. We were unwilling to point out that we were wrong to miss the opportunity to teach people about the scientific process, to put the necessary incidents on a fuller screen.

The evil of arguing our wrong has had dire consequences: we have overcome confidence in concepts that were still (perhaps unintentionally) yet to be developed, we have distanced many who had legitimate questions, and we have ironically fanned the flames of misinformation and misinformation. For example, quack created mashup changes for famous scientists by saying one thing about Covid-19 in June 2020, another thing in August, and something else in November. In response, we offered mostly the same surprised answer: “Come on. That’s wrong, and that’s not how science works. ”But our answers are missing something: we can be part of the problem.

On what do scientists base their ability to deal with mistakes, errors, or bad predictions?

It would be easy to highlight the great egos of scientists. Although the ego raises a lot of problems in science, I suspect that the real causes of our Covid-19 stubbornness are more difficult.

From the beginning of the pandemic, misinformation and misinformation were not mere impediments, but rather those that defined forces in the global response. And their most influential perpetrators were the resignation of “doctors” from YouTube channels, as well as government officials responsible for the pandemic policy.

At the very least, bad information hindered or diverted public conversation about Covid’s science. The truth is harsher: the doubts raised by bona fide actors prompted formal (or non-policy) public health policies. Skepticism and denial of science had a much bigger stake than the one that won the Twitter rocket. They armed the simple unknown, and Covid actively orchestrated and propagated numerous lies to sow doubts about the way science works, sometimes for political gain.

In the face of this, the desire to cleanse the scientific community of uncertainty and wrong steps is not only incomprehensible, it is also appropriate: there is a time and place for abstract discussions about the true meaning of “effectiveness” and where to act. about the information we have at the service of the public good. The pandemic and the millions of lives we lost immediately (worldwide) are considered serious enough to be forgiven for the tremendous courage of the breast: We’re scientists, we’ve been studying these things for decades, and your stupidity hurts people. Experts and the informed public citizen science can know that science is a process that cannot exist without accumulating new data and discarding old ideas. But a large portion of people don’t know how this process really works. Our “trust me, I’m a scientist” appeals may be wrong.



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