Expertise

August 5, 2020

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Reading Dave Winer’s post on what the President should be required to do, I asked myself WHY people don’t listen to scientists.

Dave says: If it were a fire burning in their neighborhood everyone would understand that it must be put out.” And who would you call? The Fire Department. There would be no doubt about it.

It follows then, when the world is facing a global pandemic brought on by a virus, the world would call” epidemiologists and other scientists with the background and experience of dealing with these things. Yet some people do not trust what the scientific experts say. (Not to mention climate change, but that’s another article.)

I have a couple theories:

Science is intangible, therefore there is nothing to see” when resolution occurs. When you call the fire department to put out a fire, you can tell when the fire is out. This invisibility makes it harder to comprehend your actions (wearing a mask for example) will contribute to solving the problem. Even though study after study says it will.

Science isn’t always yes/no, black/white. Hypotheses need to be tested, and there are many variables. Unfortunately this makes it open to interpretation, and some people will grab on to the smallest detail and extrapolate that into disproving the entire theory.

The combination of the above have made science political. I can’t imagine being a scientist in present day USA. You work 30+ years in your field for multiple Presidents, become an expert, and now have to deal with people believing social media memes and politicians Tweeting about drinking Lysol over your expertise. Sorry Dr. Fauci.