Follow the Science

“Because I said so,” has long been repudiated as a parenting technique. Do mothers and fathers sometimes need to use it? Yes. But as the basis for a parent-child relationship, it is lacking. It provides no guidance to the child that will help him make better decisions in the future and it depends upon a level of obedience that is probably lacking if those words need to be uttered in the first place.

That potentially patronizing brush-off, however, is growing in popularity in the vocabulary of government bureaucrats and officials. Replace the “I” with “experts” or “scientists” and that is what we are repeatedly hearing today.

One danger with telling citizens that we must listen to “science” occurs when society has spent the past few years tampering with word definitions. You thought you knew what the words, marriage, justice, equality and even male and female meant? Well, throw out any dictionaries composed prior to yesterday because you are wrong.

The word scientist too, has undergone a change. It is no longer related to people who search for truth using objective and replicable testing and defending theories from challenges. When oncologists and obstetricians are the scientists warning us that climate change is today’s greatest danger while marine biologists and botanists declare that babies are born genderless, we can be forgiven for assuming that the word “scientist” can be substituted for “people with strong viewpoints on any and all issues.”

Leaving aside the scientists themselves, science itself is beginning to share credibility with alchemy. COVID has exacerbated the situation for an already challenged field. Enough nurses are refusing to be vaccinated that hospitals around the United States are talking of closing departments. Reports of this phenomenon follow a certain trope. In August, a writer in Forbes wrote: “Still, it would be desirable if the hesitant explained their reasoning without fear of ridicule or retaliation. In medicine, as in other fields of science, minority views have been proven right often enough that they should be encouraged.”

Note the word ‘still’ at the beginning of the sentence. The article was basically saying that the vaccine is safe and desirable, but there are too many stubborn medical personnel who are refusing it. While this author at least acknowledges the chance that these professionals might have a point, the bulk of articles focus only on asking the question of how to convince or at least intimidate these worried nurses and doctors.

When members of Congress exempt themselves and their staff from the very vaccine requirements that they are imposing upon businesses, skepticism should abound. When masks are irrelevant at a Hollywood gathering but necessary for four-year-olds, disdain is the proper response.

I have seen mothers and fathers chasing after their children, begging them to have a bite of supper. The cuisine is usually delicious and the adults present are tucking in. But I can forgive a child for assuming that if they have to be coaxed or bribed to eat, the food is undesirable. If you need a prize in order to do something, wise minds question how attractive the required action is. Have you ever heard a mother say, “Eat your cookie and I’ll give you some Brussel sprouts.”? I didn’t think so. How about, “I’m going to send you to bed early if you don’t want any ice cream.”? I didn’t think so.

Bullying, intimidating, squashing debate, and bribing people to take the vaccine or to wear masks is a sure-fire way to make people distrust those protocols. Here is the main question that needs an answer: Is information about COVID and its treatments predicated on a desire to protect people’s health or is it motivated by an egotistical or malevolent push for power and money? Vaccines may be a glorious gift. Nevertheless, as long as half the country believes that the answer to the above question is “a push for power and money,” it will be granted the reception it deserves, namely skepticism and distrust.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments on this Musing.
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