Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Science or Politics?

We are told that science matters.

However, it seems that science only matters today if it is the science you agree with.

Of course, scientific facts are not debatable. They are settled and irrefutable.

A scientific fact is the law of gravity, the boiling point of water or the distance to the moon. 

That is why we often hear statements about the "consensus" of scientists today when it comes to many "scientific issues". 

Of course, "consensus" is not the same as facts. And consensus is not a scientific fact. 

Prior to the 15th century, the consensus of scientists was that the earth was the center of the universe.

In the 18th century, the consensus of medical scientists was that blood letting was the best method to cure illness.

As recently as 25 years ago the consensus was that peptic ulcers were caused by stress. We now know it is caused by bacteria.

I could go on and on. In fact, in most cases like these, the consensus of scientists was proven wrong by one person who did not believe the consensus and proved it wrong.

If there is one thing that ought to be evident by now is that there is still much that is not known about the science involved with Covid-19.

Consider just a few of the contradictions we have seen since the pandemic began.

Masks were first stated to not be helpful in controlling the virus with the general public. Now they are said to be absolutely essential to stopping the spread.

We were told that asymptomatic spread was a major transmission source when the pandemic first started. Now that seems to be much less a concern.

We were warned in March that that virus could be spread widely on infected surfaces . It now seems that this occurs rarely and the virus is almost always transmitted by airborne particles.

Thousands of ventilators were supposedly necessary to treat Covid-19 patients and the federal government built them like there was no tomorrow in March and April. All of those new ventilators now sit idle as they have proven to do little in helping patients recover.

I am not a doctor, epidemiologist or scientist but I like to think that I study issues with some rigor and depth with a heavy emphasis on analytical and critical thinking. I look at data and facts. I don't accept things blindly. I have also been on this earth long enough to want to know the possible ulterior motives or motivations someone might have that tries to peddle "facts" to me. 

When you hear talk about consensus in science I am always reminded of the speech the late Michael Crichton gave at Caltech in 2003 where he talked about how politics was infiltrating science.

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. 

Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus.

Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Crichton cautioned us about all of this 17 years ago.

Did anyone listen?

Consider what happened yesterday when a group of frontline physicians gathered in Washington, D.C. to give their opinions about Covid-19 and the success they have had in treating it with hydroxychloroquine and other therapies.

America's Frontline Doctor's Group

The video of the press conference went viral on social media and reportedly was the most viewed video on Facebook on Monday. President Trump retweeted a link to the video on his Twitter account.

I don't know whether the the claims of these doctors qualify as science. They certainly should qualify as informed opinions based on their own knowledge and experience. That seems to be as good as it gets with Covid-19 right now. No one that I know of has cracked the science of this virus.

When you are dealing with so many unknowns it would seem that differing opinions and perspectives are crucial to the debate and moving the science forward.

How did social media and the mainstream media react to the views of these doctors?

Facebook took the video down claiming that the video was promoting  "misinformation" about Covid-19. YouTube said that it violated its "community standards". Twitter deleted it saying that the video violated its "Covid-19 misinformation policy".

(CNN Business)A video featuring a group of doctors making false and dubious claims related to the coronavirus was removed by Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube after going viral online Monday.

The video, published by the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, featured a group of people wearing white lab coats calling themselves "America's Frontline Doctors" staging a press conference in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Do you notice a little media bias in this "reporting"?

"False and dubious claims". That may be CNN's take but how do they know? These doctors are speaking from their personal experience treating patients. How can that be false and dubious if they have experienced it first hand in their own medical practice?

"Right-wind media outlet"  When have you ever seen CNN describe someone as a left-wing media outlet?

"Group of people wearing white lab coats".  CNN could not even refer to them as a "group of doctors'? It would seem this would have been pretty easily supported and established.

If the social media censorship was not bad enough, the website host that the doctor's group was using also shut them off. This is the United States of America?

In contrast to this story, I thought it was interesting all of the positive news stories circulating in the last several days about the Covd-19 vaccine developed by Moderna that is progressing to Phase 3 trials.

It is merely a coincidence that the Moderna vaccine is being developed based on patents and research that Dr. Anthony Fauci and the National Institutes of Health have been involved with?

LEADING INFECTIOUS disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Monday that the progression from sequencing the coronavirus to getting Moderna's potential vaccine into its phase three trial "is the best we, in the United States, have ever done."
Fauci called it a "truly historic event in the history of vaccinology" on a call with reporters. He said that emerging data from the trial should be available in November or December, and insisted that despite the speed of the development, "there is no compromise at all with regard to safety or scientific integrity."

   How is the Moderna vaccine described in most news stories?


I hope the vaccine fulfills that promise.

However, let's put this subject in context.

Moderna has never developed a successful vaccine for anything. Not once.

The timetable for the development of this vaccine is shorter than anything that has ever been done by many, many years.

There has never been a successful vaccine developed against any type of coronavirus.

The United States government has already given Moderna almost $1 billion for the development of the vaccine.

To this point the Moderna vaccine has only been tested on 45 individuals most of who experienced what are termed "mild' side effects. However, four of the 45 had severe or medically significant side effects including fevers of over 103 degrees.

Early indications are that if the Moderna vaccine works it would require at least two shots (and possibly three or more for the elderly).

All of this is considered promising?

On the other hand, hydroxychloroquine has been in use for over 60 years.

It has literally been prescribed for a variety of uses over 1 billion times in that period.

It has proven to have almost no side effects over its 60 years of usage.

A course of treatment for Covid-19 costs less than $10.

Harvey Risch, M.D, PhD., an epidemiology professor at Yale Medical School recently wrote an opinion column in Newsweek in which he stated that 100,000 lives could be saved by the use of hydroxychloroquine in the appropriate circumstances.

When this inexpensive oral medication is given very early in the course of illness, before the virus has had time to multiply beyond control, it has shown to be highly effective, especially when given in combination with the antibiotics azithromycin or doxycycline and the nutritional supplement zinc.

On May 27, I published an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology (AJE) entitled, "Early Outpatient Treatment of Symptomatic, High-Risk COVID-19 Patients that Should be Ramped-Up Immediately as Key to the Pandemic Crisis." That article, published in the world's leading epidemiology journal, analyzed five studies, demonstrating clear-cut and significant benefits to treated patients, plus other very large studies that showed the medication safety.
Since publication of my May 27 article, seven more studies have demonstrated similar benefit. In a lengthy follow-up letter, also published by AJE, I discuss these seven studies and renew my call for the immediate early use of hydroxychloroquine in high-risk patients. These seven studies include: an additional 400 high-risk patients treated by Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, with zero deaths; four studies totaling almost 500 high-risk patients treated in nursing homes and clinics across the U.S., with no deaths; a controlled trial of more than 700 high-risk patients in Brazil, with significantly reduced risk of hospitalization and two deaths among 334 patients treated with hydroxychloroquine; and another study of 398 matched patients in France, also with significantly reduced hospitalization risk. Since my letter was published, even more doctors have reported to me their completely successful use.

There is an actual track record here and the doctors who are successfully prescribing it are called "people in white coats" making "false and dubious claims"?

I thought this was a very interesting tweet from a doctor who seemed to be questioning what the real agenda was regarding hydroxychloroquine. It does seem to ring true when you consider the side effects that seem common with a lot of drugs.

As I said before, I am not a doctor or scientist.

Does hydroxychloroquine work? Is it effective and safe?

I don't know. I haven't treated patients or done pharma studies. I also don't know if Moderna's vaccine is promising or not. 

However, what I find strange is why there is such a concerted effort to silence doctors (who do have experiences in treating Covid-19) from even talking about alternative treatments that have worked for their patients?

Silencing debate and discussion would seem to be the very antithesis of what we need right now to determine what the SCIENCE really says about the disease.

I think Michael Crichton would describe what we are seeing as another example of consensus science.

What did Crichton warn us about those that peddle consensus science?

They want to avoid any debate.

They want your wallet because you are being had.

Are we talking science or politics with most of what we are told about Covid-19 right now?

That doesn't seem to require much debate.

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