Forbes claims "DYOR" limited to those with expertise.

in #covid2 months ago

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2020/07/30/you-must-not-do-your-own-research-when-it-comes-to-science

In which an astrophysicists chides non-epidemiologists for "doing their own research on COVID-19" while making declarative statements about what epidemiology says about COVID-19.

To be clear, I sympathize with the author's tirade. It is remarkably dangerous for people who aren't only not experts in a relevant field to do their own research. It's often damned frustrating. But, it's also extremely dangerous to insist that everybody just trust the authorities.

Where he could have gotten this right would be if he focused, at least a paragraph, on the understanding that science isn't an ideology or, really, a collection of facts, but an ongoing process. Therefore, yes, if you're not in a given field of expertise, most of the time, you can't have your innate hypocrisy which we all have put under scrutiny by other experts in the field.

One of the most frustrating conversations that I had was with a person who is damned opposed to genetically modified foods. I linked him to reports of research done all over the world showing their effectiveness and safety. He scoffed that I didn't do my own experiment. I explained to him that, even if I had, that wouldn't be doing science properly because I'd be running an experiment to try to prove a point rather than holding it up for the scrutiny of the process.

I see this in economics a lot too, only kinda on the flip side. People are trusting people like Paul Krugman and Thomas Piketty, who have credentials while being hilariously wrong all the time, because Democratic Socialists want to believe that they're right.

Just watch the reaction that you get from a Democratic Socialist when he or she tells you that we should use Sweden as a model and pay for state programs with higher corporate tax rates and taxes on the wealthy and you point out that the USA has a higher corporate tax rate and Sweden taxes its poorest income bracket the hardest. They don't take it well.

Especially in this case, though, the science isn't as clear as the author implies. If it were, I'm sure he could explain why, given the knowledge that the virus transmits better indoors with circulated air, we can get on airplanes but I can't go to my nephew's football games.

I'm not an epidemiologist. I'm not one of those crazies who is going to insist that I know anything about possibly curing this thing. I can read. I can do basic math. I know what the word "multivariate" means. I know about externalities and unintended consequences. I know that, especially in this case, the experts are clashing. I wouldn't dare to throw myself into that specific conversation. But, I think we're allowed to ask if the policies which are supposedly built around some scientific certainty are, in least some measures, causing more harm than the actual virus.

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