Science-Blind: Opinions based on research vs personal

In summary, the people I have talked to oppose using masks in COVID-19 because they think they will just make the situation worse. They don't think it will help, and the costs are high. They think we should do more hands-on experiments to see if it does help.
  • #36
Since the question contained a major false assumption both based on and by scientific studies I have read let me simply address that. Equating dropping out of High School early with ignorance is a dangerous assumption. Many of our finest minds never even attended High School much less College. As an aeronautical Engineer I have been in developmental meetings where we came out with a new plane on a sheet of paper done by men using slide rules with 2 of the 5 having multiple doctorates and one a Jr high school diploma and another a grade school dropout.

The jr high school graduate was head of engineering and was certified in 5 fields of engineering as well as being a Naval Aviator and Flight Officer.

There are books, you read them...teachers NOT required. Just ask Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin, George Washington, the Wright Brothers (their father had a large library - high school only,)

One of the reasons many of these students, and for me, dropping out - initially in Kindergarten until my dad said I could cut one day a week to go to a library or museum and write a report to quell my dissatisfaction with school that I had eagerly anticipated for years as a font of knowledge, only to find out that the other children could neither read, write or even add or subtract much less do any other more advanced math,...and there was this nap thing and some sort of milk fetish.

I think the questioner will find that politics and science make strange bedfellows and are best segregated.

Another reason for these dropouts - read a 100 year science book, it was written by professors with advanced degrees. They firmly believed that everything in that book was proven using the scientific method. Look at one from 200 years ago now - same rationale. Now guess what scientists will be doing with our school books 100 and 200 years from now. That’s right, ”How could these people have been so ignorant?”

Remember, education takes many forms. We learn every day. That is the purpose of this Forum. What a shame if we stopped at high school or college and having a piece of paper and felt that was “educated.”
 
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  • #37
Try:
Logic: The Right Use of Reason in the Inquiry After Truth by Isaac Watts
Written in 1724 as a primary school textbook and still in use by major universities
 
  • #38
I remember 60 years ago, similar arguments were made about the "unknown" harms of smoking. It stands to reason that smoking your lungs for years cannot lead to a good outcome. However, a belief is not a double-blind experiment. The argument by the tobacco lobby was that there is no scientific proof or precise biological mechanism that smoking causes lung cancer or emphysema. Their strategy was to sow doubt. An example to disproof was that an 86-year old, who was smoking 3 packs of Camels a day for over 70 years, was doing well.
There were statistics to show a strong link between smoking and lung cancer, but most people's minds cannot be changed by statistics or logic. Most people's minds will be changed only after painful personal experiences: their father or brother died of lung cancer. As these individual experiences accumulated, the general public very slowly started to change their mind.
My grandson and his friends only laughed and joked around about wearing a mask. They were invincible! After they caught the Covid-19 virus from one of their friends and were sick for a week or two, they have changed their minds somewhat. They are still invincible.
 
  • #39
IMO it is wrong to cast the mask issue as one of knowledge versus ignorance. It is primarily a matter of trust.

Just a few months ago, science said that the public should not wear masks. Plenty of evidence about masks preventing spread existed back then, mostly in Asian publications. It is rational to suspect that either science deliberately lied to the public about masks because there were not enough N95 masks to go around, or that western science succumbed to the not-invented-here syndrome. Either way, trust in science and scientists took a big hit.

Public reluctance to believe scientists can sometimes be attributed to bad behavior of the scientists rather than the ignorance of the public. If scientists just stuck to publishing their scientific results and were silent on public policy, they would have more respect. The more often scientists say "Hear me and obey, because I am a scientist." the worse the problem.
 
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  • #40
vela said:
I have a friend who is an anti-vaxxer. She's quite intelligent, but there's no amount of scientific evidence that will persuade her that vaccines work.
Contradiction in terms. I would argue that she is NOT "quite intelligent".
 
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  • #41
anorlunda said:
IMO it is wrong to cast the mask issue as one of knowledge versus ignorance. It is primarily a matter of trust.

Just a few months ago, science said that the public should not wear masks. Plenty of evidence about masks preventing spread existed back then, mostly in Asian publications. It is rational to suspect that either science deliberately lied to the public about masks because there were not enough N95 masks to go around, or that western science succumbed to the not-invented-here syndrome. Either way, trust in science and scientists took a big hit.

Public reluctance to believe scientists can sometimes be attributed to bad behavior of the scientists rather than the ignorance of the public. If scientists just stuck to publishing their scientific results and were silent on public policy, they would have more respect. The more often scientists say "Hear me and obey, because I am a scientist." the worse the problem.
Yes, the Western decision to claim masks weren't important because there was a shortage was one of the worst health policy decisions ever made. Even independent of evidence one could track down, especially regarding the similar SARS and MERS viruses, it was logically inconsistent to say that N95 masks were critical to protect healthcare workers, but masks were not important for the public. Claims were made that imperfect masks wouldn't help the wearer because they couldn't stop viral size particles, while they protected others because they could stop droplets. This is a logical absurdity - if you catch it most commonly by droplets, then the mask that reduces droplets from one direction reduces them from the other as well. Failure to stop virus size particles is wholly irrelevant. This led me, back at the beginning of March, to trust nothing except my own investigations and experiments; the CDC and WHO were quite obviously not presenting objective science.
 
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  • #42
PAllen said:
This led me, back at the beginning of March, to trust nothing except my own investigations and experiments; the CDC and WHO were quite obviously not presenting objective science.

No comment on the CDC whose advice I have not followed in detail. For the WHO, I would say the public messaging was badly explained to the point of being misleading (which does erode public trust), rather than incorrect (ie. it was based on objective science), as it is true that if there is a mask shortage, medical masks should be prioritized for health care workers and people with respiratory symptoms, while the general community should rely on other measures such as safe distancing (in January the WHO guidance was safe distancing from people with respiratory symptoms, in April the WHO guidance was updated to have safe distancing in the community; the April guidance also provided considerations for masking when safe distancing could not be maintained, eg. in public transport).
 
  • #43
I remember a couple of significant public statements.

The first was from the Chinese when they first described this in January. My reaction was that this was likely big trouble (although it has been a bit bigger than I expected). The Chinese were obviously having difficulty containing this virus - even though, since the SARS outbreak, they were as prepared as anyone and more willing than most to impose quarantine measures. Since they most certainly would have implemented effective measures against fomite transmission, I was quite certain that wasn't it (or at least not all of it). In the two months following that, I looked at what droplets could do. That transmission method also seemed to me too vulnerable to determined authoritarian government. In terms of "trust", I trust the Chinese government to act and speak in their own interest - so in that context, they are trustworthy.

The second were the statements from Trumps and Fauci about masks. It was very clear to me what they were saying. Initially, it was spare the N95 masks for the front line workers. Later it was, a homemade mask might be of some use. Then it was hmmm... those homemade masks do seem to make a difference. Especially at the start, it was filled with "weasel wording" as many public figures were going out of their way to avoid acknowledging that N95 masks could be useful for general use. They just wanted to deliver the message that you shouldn't try to buy any. In terms of trust, it was easy to see what Fauci was trying to do. In contrast, Trump will always find (and declare) facts that support his views and policies.

If you think that they are still holding back information to the public, I tend to agree. For example, you can find a list of a dozen materials that you might touch and how long SARS-Cov-2 will keep on each of those. But you will never find human skin included on those lists.
 
  • #44
Hi, found this interesting article:
Covid-19: politicisation, “corruption,” and suppression of science
https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m4425
did not want to start a new thread - so thought it best applied here.
Are politicians and govts etc cherry picking science? competing interests? etc
 
  • #45
What I find most discouraging about the current stance of the US is the seeming complete popular ignorance that the founding fathers were not a group of religious zealots but rather of scientists. We owe our esteemed and coveted successes not to superior ethics but hardheaded well researched political structures (thank you Mr. Madison) and an understanding of scientific method (thanks `to Franklin, Jefferson, Washington and many more). Cotton Mather notwithstanding
 
  • #46
hutchphd said:
What I find most discouraging about the current stance of the US is the seeming complete popular ignorance that the founding fathers were not a group of religious zealots but rather of scientists. We owe our esteemed and coveted successes not to superior ethics but hardheaded well researched political structures (thank you Mr. Madison) and an understanding of scientific method (thanks `to Franklin, Jefferson, Washington and many more). Cotton Mather notwithstanding

The idea that one cannot be both zealous for one's faith as well as a scientist has always been an error. It is the fallacy of a false dichotomy.

Further, it was much more common to find people who were both zealous for their faith and appreciative of science in the 17th and 18th centuries than it is today. Have you heard of Isaac Newton? John Adams? Robert Boyle? George Washington? Even well into the 19th century, it was common for people very zealous for their faith to make tremendous contributions to physics. Perhaps you have heard of Michael Faraday.
 
  • #47
Dr. Courtney said:
Further, it was much more common to find people who were both zealous for their faith and appreciative of science in the 17th and 18th centuries than it is today.
Not much of an argument, since it was much more common to find people in ANY walk of life back then who were religious.
 
  • #48
phinds said:
Not much of an argument, since it was much more common to find people in ANY walk of life back then who were religious.

It is a disproof by counter example of the claim made by hutchphd:

"the founding fathers were not a group of religious zealots but rather of scientists."
 
  • #49
Dr. Courtney said:
It is a disproof by counter example of the claim made by hutchphd:

"the founding fathers were not a group of religious zealots but rather of scientists."
Fair enough.
 
  • #50
Dr. Courtney said:
The idea that one cannot be both zealous for one's faith as well as a scientist has always been an error. It is the fallacy of a false dichotomy.
Dr. Courtney said:
It is a disproof by counter example of the claim made by hutchphd:
I am sorry but this is a straw man, not a "disproof by counterexample". I made and make no such claim. I was discussing the founding fathers who were not zealots and were scientists.
phinds said:
Fair enough.
Not fair at all. I referred to the founding fathers as being more scientist than religious zealot. The beliefs of Sir Isaac have absolutely nothing to do with it unless he was in Philly in 1787. Of the relevant personages mentioned George Washington sometimes called on Providence but was hardly a zealot.
I am weary of hearing that we were founded as a religious (usually Christian) country. Folks need to read a little more Tom Paine and the other Tom also.
 
  • #51
Aside from any discussion of politics and the Founding Fathers, for me the whole argument about science vs religion is bogus. I think religion is utterly absurd but that's a personal opinion and beside the point. A religious person, even a zealot, in fact PARTICULARLY a zealot, could look at the world in the following way [I realize that almost none of them DO look at it this way, but that's another discussion].

God made the universe and science is how we try to discover how it is, so science should be central to our efforts since it is an effort to KNOW how he made the universe and thus get closer to him. Pretending that the universe is some way other than what it really is, is not just wrong, it is blasphemous.
 
  • #52
My apologies for in fact hijacking the post...I got a little carried away.
I have two close physicist friends both very good scientists who are Christian. One is a Christian Scientist (close friend...we had many many discussions about his faith...I am still in the dark. The other is a born again Baptist and is very very smart. Both wonderful folks but inscrutable to me!
In my experience it seems to make no difference at all in the approach to Physics. Gay, straight, or druid. Time for my favorite Scott Fitzgerald Quote:

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.
 

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