Written by Brad Miner
Monday, May 25, 2020
One doesn’t know what to believe, does one?
The nature and consequences of the novel coronavirus defy easy comprehension and demonstrate what we frequently observe in other matters: the eye-rolling reality of conflicting expert opinions, not to mention the kibitzing of non-experts. Some say the lockdowns are necessary to prevent the spread of the disease, and, therefore, America must remain closed; others say that, without a vaccine, we can’t stop the spread of the disease – we can only slow its progression. And slowing it only prolongs the crisis.
This reminds me of two things. The first is #1 among scholar Robert Conquest’s three laws of politics: “Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.” This is true of scientists of all kinds. The second is the way one paleontologist described the tension at one scholarly conference: some attendees asserted dinosaurs were cold-blooded, like reptiles, and others insisted the beasts were warm-blooded, like birds. So great was the disagreement that the two groups sat apart at this meeting, barely able to acknowledge each other’s presence.
This is true of paleontologists, epidemiologists, and politicians. As a layman, I find this troubling.