How ‘following the science’ has let our country down

(This article was published by CityAM)

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This article appeared in CityAM

If I were to be diagnosed with a malignant tumour, I would expect my doctors to lay out for me the alternative treatment options, how each would affect my quality of life, its impact on survival or potential cure and, as far as is knowable, all the other potential costs and benefits. 

I would listen to them carefully and with respect. But the eventual decision would be mine and mine alone, based on my personal perspective of all the trade-offs involved.

In other words, “the science” cannot make the decision for me. It cannot tell me what to do. It can only outline within certain bounds of uncertainty the potential outcomes of different choices that I would make. To use the jargon, science has no normative content.

As everyone struggles to deal with this pandemic, the idea of “following the science” has gained traction. It is fundamentally mistaken.

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