Modern science: Celebrating a “high priestess” instead of data
The corruption of modern science and our intellectual class was well illustrated today by the following headline and article in the peer review journal Science:
Act now, wait for perfect evidence later, says ‘high priestess’ of U.K. COVID-19 masking campaign
From the article’s lead:
In May, when several prominent U.K. scientists pushed back against a Royal Society report recommending face masks to help control the spread of COVID-19, Trisha Greenhalgh was furious. The scientists argued there was insufficient support in the scientific literature for the efficacy of masks, and the U.K. government, following their lead, declined to mandate masks for the general public.
“The search for perfect evidence may be the enemy of good policy,” Greenhalgh, a physician and expert in health care delivery at the University of Oxford, fumed in the Boston Review. “As with parachutes for jumping out of airplanes, it is time to act without waiting for randomized controlled trial evidence.” [emphasis mine]
The highlighted words have been the typical argument of the global warming crowd for decades. “We can’t wait for evidence! We need to act now before it’s too late!”
Moreover, she — along with the writer of this Science article — also copies another global warming dishonest tactic, posing a false argument by claiming that the opposing scientists requried a “randomized controlled trial” to demonstrate the usefulness of masks. This is an absurd misstatement, as it ignores decades of research that already exists and was referenced by those opposing scientists, that showed that mandating widespread mask use was generally a bad idea, and would accomplish nothing good.
For the full images, go here and here.
Greenhalgh, who belongs to a WHO committee that she forced to change from “claiming masks are harmful” to now endorsing mask use, very clearly falls into this mindset. She is outraged that scientists would dare defy her opinion on masks. Despite the clear uncertainty of the science and the solid evidence that improper use of masks can be harmful (as illustrated by the WHO graphic to the right), she forged ahead with her political campaign and got WHO to comply.
Apparently the editors and writers at Science also agree with her approach of ignoring data for the sake of an political agenda, as this article lovingly endorses her campaign and tactics.
The greatest irony here is that Greenhalgh was dubbed “a high priestess” by a critic. Now, Science is elevating that term to a compliment, and a guidepost for what future scientists should strive for. “Forget data and research, the focus must be on what we believe and desire, even if no evidence backs up those opinions! And above all, we must worship our leaders as priests and priestesses with privileged and special knowledge who must never be questioned!”
I suspect this corruption of science at Science is partly fed by its funding. At the top of the article they note:
Science’s COVID-19 reporting is supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Heising-Simons Foundation.
The Pulitzer prize in the last two decades has become a joke, a leftwing partisan Democratic Party operation designed to strengthen the agenda of leftist news organizations while squelching any dissent to that agenda.
As for the Heising-Simons Foundation, a five minute review of its homepage reveals it to be very leftist in agenda, pushing the certainty of global warming caused by human activity as well as racist policies favoring one race over others. Moreover, political contributions from people connected to this organization go exclusively to Democrats. Like the Pulitizer Prize, this foundation is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, dressing itself up to be fair-minded as it pursues a very partisan leftist agenda.
The funding these organizations have given to Science is clearly influencing its reporting. These advocacy groups want their agendas pushed, and Science appears now quite eager to do it. I fully believe that this eagerness has also been reflected in the journal’s peer review process, where there has been evidence in recent years that results counter to the global warming agenda have been squelched.
The tragedy here is that the very basis of science — and the Enlightenment that brought us our rational civilization of freedom and justice during the past five hundred years — relies not on belief and high priestesses but on data and facts and the unwavering cold search for truth, no matter what it might lead. As Francis Bacon commanded in 1620 at the very beginning of the Enlightenment:
Truth is to be sought for, not in the felicity of any age which is an unstable thing, but in the light of nature and experience, which is eternal. . . . Let every student of nature take this as a rule — that whatever his mind seizes and dwells upon with peculiar satisfaction is be held in suspicion. [Novum Organum, sections 56 and 58]
For the past four centuries scientists, and our society, took this command to heart, relying not on belief, opinions, and “the felicity of any age” but on facts and knowledge and reality.
For the journal Science, which represents well our modern bankrupt academic intellectual class, such standards are no longer satisfactory. We must pursue the religion of politics and opinion as espoused by priests and priestesses, above all. Facts and knowledge be damned!
Unless we can turn this around we are seeing the end of that Enlightenment, and the coming of a dark age that could last centuries. Woe to the future.
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Bob the Pulitzer has been a joke since after learning that Walter Duranty’s fantasy that there was no (Soviet/Stalin created) famine in Ukraine was a full fabrication to support the Soviet lie.
The Pulitzer board was finally petitioned to pull the prize in the 90’s but still did NOT revoke it.
That said – This is an important article. I hinted on this in a prior comment on mask wearing, It appears that not only do we have the notion that “authorities” can pontificate new findings that all must follow, obey and accept. (There are no authorities in science or engineering – only data and those who correctly interpret it). But also we are seeing that they come with new “DATA” that we must accept.. The data is often shows up AFTER the pontification or is the result of filtering or altering existing or incoming data to “correct” it and support the pontification. One can think of a few modern “truths” or “settled science” where this has a been the case.
When we also see the data corrupted then a new deeper danger emerges – the actual truth can’t be found or constructed – the pontification will stand.
This practice is deadly. It will not end well.
“Burning Down The New York Times: Act II “What Holocaust?””
PJTV June 2009
“Roger L. Simon reexamines Stalin’s “Pulitzer Prize winning ” apologist and his role in whitewashing the forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians for the New York Times.”
Same old same old. First the verdict, and then the trial.
Everything I need to know about living, I learned from Lewis Carroll.
“In 1940, Lysenko became director of the Institute of Genetics within the USSR’s Academy of Sciences, and he used his political influence and power to suppress dissenting opinions and discredit, marginalize, and imprison his critics, elevating his anti-Mendelian theories to state-sanctioned doctrine.
Soviet scientists who refused to renounce genetics were dismissed from their posts and left destitute. Hundreds if not thousands of others were imprisoned. Several were sentenced to death as enemies of the state.”
Does this sound familiar? History is repeating itself, but with a new twist.
We’ve had an outbreak of COVID-19 in Utah resulting in politicians mandating masks. The news said they don’t care if the masks are 70% effective or 10% affective, The law is the law and you will be given a misdemeanor for not wearing one in public. (it’s not the law, administrative rule that has been suspended when the mandate expired)
Here’s an article on “DOD””operation warp speed” that you shouldn’t read if you want to sleep at night.
“Operation Warp Speed “looks a lot more like a military operation than a science project,” adding that “roughly 60 military officials—including at least four generals—are involved in the leadership of Operation Warp Speed, many of whom have never worked in health care or vaccine development.” That report also pointed out that “just 29 of the roughly 90 leaders on the chart aren’t employed by the Department of Defense.”
“Such examples of extreme secrecy and conflicting statements appear to be just scratching the surface of what Operation Warp Speed truly aims to accomplish. And to expose Operation Warp Speed as the most clandestine, and arguably most dangerous, US military operation in decades. Unlike such well-funded and secretive military operations of years past, this one is aimed directly at the American people.”
During the pandemic, Gates has doubled his fortune.
“Microsoft founder Bill Gates is bankrolling a company that plans on launching a $1 billion network of satellites to provide live-streaming coverage of almost “corner” of the earth.
EarthNow plans on launching 500 plus satellites into our atmosphere, providing its users with near instantaneous video feedback with only one second of delay.”
“The obvious big question is who are the “users” of this technology. According to Wikipedia, the company expects its initial customers to include “governments and large enterprises.”
(are these the earth monitoring satellites that China’s been launching?)
“Next time you buy a “smart” device, remember the device is not the product—you are.”
“we pass our days under the nonstop surveillance of a telescreen that we bought at the Apple Store, carry with us everywhere, and tell everything to, without any coercion by the state. The Ministry of Truth is Facebook, Google, and cable news. We have met Big Brother and he is us.”
( A well done article on doublethink, but it feels like somebody swapped liberal and conservative ideas to make the conservatives the party of hate and the liberals the party of justice… An article actually using doublethink)
I know, too much. Had some downtime at work this morning and I used it to read.
Mr. Zimmerman, I love listening to you on radio and reading your articles. I would ask that you find and publish some articles about “super-spreading” and this false narrative that is being used to shut down any music that uses the power of the lungs, including worship services as well as the music industry as a whole, as we cannot operate without our singers or wind and brass players. This concept is unfairly demonizing a whole segment of professionals and aspiring talented youth as though “we” are the killers because we “breathe too much”. No government funding to prop up dying theaters and Broadway shows or the Metropolitan Opera will help as long as this fake science mindset is still being pushed. Breathing is still legal the last time I checked, but there really seems to be a movement to make it illegal.
I really look forward to anything you can quote here so that I can have more facts to fight this on a local level.
Bob an Evening Pause candidate
The video at about 5:14 is worth a look
Michael: I have been thinking about this subject and how the Wuhan panic has basically killed forever the theater and concert business. Future generations will have little opportunity to watch Shakespeare a Bach cantata performed. The loss is immeasurable.
Chris: As I said very clearly, do NOT post the link in a comment. Defeats the purpose of scheduling the pause, as it already has been broadcast to everyone.
I will email you separately the guidelines for sending me future suggestions.
Mea maxima culpa.
—- I probably spelled that wrong too.
>have a clip for that…..
Brian Eno & David Byrne
My Life in the Bush of Ghosts 1981
cutting to the chase (so to speak):
“What’re you saying?
He said, “I’m sorry,
I committed a sin, I made a mistake.”
“To forgive me, please forgive me.”
He said “mea culpa,”
Can you put it better?
I’m saying, “I’m sorry,
I made a mistake, I made,
I committed a sin, I made a mistake.
And I’m never gonna do it again,
I never did it before,
and I’m never gonna do it again.”
Not sure I’ll never do it again….Not that smart
Now I need some rhythmic Brian Eno music.
@ Robert Zimmerman:
” I have been thinking about this subject and how the Wuhan panic has basically killed forever the theater and concert business. Future generations will have little opportunity to watch Shakespeare a Bach cantata performed. The loss is immeasurable.”
Not there yet.
It is going to take a lot longer than most people would like, but the implications of the Wuhan Protocols are going to weigh on more people, until there will be (initially cautious) calls for reform. From perusal of the news feeds, it’s happening already. If we were all Americans, we’d be pretty nearly done with this, but we’re not. This election:
“Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade” 1989
It’s not like there are no billionaires on the Right, yet no conquest by any of them of anything mainstream. LAMENT! LAMENT!! LAMENT!!!
From the article:
With logic like this, she should also be advocating the widespread use of various off-label medicines that have been observed as extremely helpful for Wuhan Plague. Not just advocating but mandating their use, just as she did with masks. Instead, all we are hearing about is mandating masks in order to slow the spread rather than using medications to prevent deaths of those infected. Worse, several governors have forbidden the use of some, most, or all of these medications, guaranteeing a maximum number of deaths in their states when a reduced number is possible, if not probable. Worser still is that this lack of use of curative medications increases the fear of Wuhan Plague, making it seem like a plague rather than a treatable regular flu.
I question Greenhalgh’s priorities. Is she more concerned about preventing deaths or is she more concerned with spreading out the length of time that the flu walks among us? As we have seen with the overly paranoid Biden campaign, masks do not prevent the spread of disease, at best they can only slow the spread, and with people from that campaign testing positive so soon after people from the Trump campaign testing positive, we have to wonder just how much masks slow the spread. It seems to be not much.
On the other hand, washing hands has been shown to stop the spread of disease, because washing away diseases keeps them away from the next potential victim. This is why medical personnel wash their hands so often. With masks, the disease is still present, but people stop practicing social distancing and, apparently, reduce hand washing.
Aristotle’s philosophy on science was that, as thinking beings, we can figure out anything just by thinking about it. Who needs experimentation when we are smart enough to figure out everything. This reliance on a thinking class of people is how we came to know, for two millennia, that objects fall in proportion to their weight. There were many other well known truths that turned out to be untrue. Aristotle was an early theoretical scientist.
Rapid technological advancement came only after Galileo showed that experimentation was necessary in order to test the hypotheses posed by theoreticians, such as Aristotle. Real-world truths began to emerge, such as all bodies fall at the same acceleration rate no matter their mass and not all heavenly bodies orbit the Earth. With the knowledge of reality, we have been able to do amazing things, from advanced agriculture to powered manufacturing and transportation to exceptional medical care (such as Operation Warp Speed) to a wide assortment of specialized materials to instantaneous worldwide communications to heavy computing power to spaceflight throughout the solar system.
Under the modern scientific method, we have done far, far more in four centuries than theoretical science was able to give us in twenty centuries.
Aristotle set us back two millennia. Going back to that way of thinking will once again set back advancements in health, food distribution, and lifestyles. Who knows what well known truths will become banned knowledge because it disagrees with some form of political or religious doctrine. We already know that capitalism, powered manufacturing and transportation, and freedom of association are under attack by the thinking class, so those are likely to be the first to fall to the coming dark age.
Why is “high priestess” a bad name to call a scientist? Because science is not a religion. Science is a method for objectively and empirically learning about the world and universe around us. Greenhalgh is called a high priestess because she is willing to bypass the scientific method in favor of her own beliefs, which she preaches as truth. Unlike many religions, she does not even have a bible for historical reference; her religion is based upon her own personal thoughts, prejudices, and biases. In science, these are tested rather than accepted, even though they come from a high priestess’s fiat.
Evidence is not the enemy of good public policy, it is the cornerstone. The better the evidence, the stronger the cornerstone, and the better the policy.
Greenhalgh is falling back into Aristotelian philosophy, with the exception that only she is smart enough to know truth. As theoretical science is used more and more to support political doctrine, it becomes less science and more Lysenkoism. We have already seen this in action with global warming, which had to be redefined when the globe stopped warming. (Wait. Weren’t we saved, and the problem solved as intended by the Kyoto Accords?) Now we are seeing the lessons learned during the global warming Lysenkoism being used to rapidly scare people into a deep desire for government-supplied health security. Our own responsibility, such as washing hands, is seen as not enough, with a conclusion that we must have government mandated actions, such as wearing masks and sheltering in place for months, maybe years.
This year, we learned just how irresponsible our governments are, when it comes to health. While our president was banning travel from areas of the world with outbreaks of Wuhan Plague, Democrats were telling everyone to spend time and money in the Chinatowns of various cities — without masks. As the president was sending hospital ships and building temporary hospitals in various cities, Democrat governors were sending Wuhan ailing patients directly into nursing homes and other care facilities where there were the highest concentrations of the most vulnerable. While the President was getting industry to rush ventilator production and rapidly develop vaccines, Democrat governors were banning the use of potentially curative medications.
Are we really willing to lose all that we are and all that we have for a false sense of security?
As with parachutes for jumping out of airplanes, it is time to act without waiting
Setting aside that the entire debate is about the relative state of emergency (the “health” of the “airplane”, as it were) I find it hilarious that she chose this particular analogy. Given the incentives and risk, parachute manufacturing and maintenance are intensely monitored activities. Both manufacturer and consumer have very high expectations of quality and efficacy, and both can expect good design and function born out by very hard won experience. Consequences for a poorly made or maintained parachute are obvious and grisly, ensuring the incentives are well-aligned. EVEN THEN, you’d much, much rather NOT jump out of an airplane unless it is unambiguously the last resort, and you will still be rightfully terrified that the chute won’t open or won’t work properly or will fail due to user error.
So, TL;DR…parachutes rely on precise and careful thought and action in order to perform their function, but the author takes this for granted to show why we need rash action, evidence be dashed. That this is her chosen mental framing says much about her, her audience, and the legions of doom mongers who have the upper hand in all matters cultural and political…at the moment.
Edward, I liked what you wrote immensely though I’m not sure I see the “high priestess” description as anything more than an attempt by who ever writes headlines for Science to use a nugget from Trisha Greenhalgh’s backstory to create a provocative headline. I did not see anywhere that Greenhalgh wants to be called that.
Sam, your observation about the parachute analogy was great and made me chuckle.
As far as the never ending debate in the U.S. about mask use, mask mandates, and the degree to which their use aids in lowering transmission rates, I think the debate will rage on long past the time when everyone has had the option to take the coming vaccines. It would be nice if politicians weren’t using masks as a wedge issue, but I know that will not happen in out current political climate. I’ve always worn one in all public settings since the spring. I don’t find properly handling and using them as a big deal, but I fully understand that’s just me.
Conversations with a family member who is every day on the frontlines dealing with ill people who have or may have the COVID-19 virus have been instructive. Their advise is even if mask use impacts transmission rates a little or a lot, the proper use of a mask is a tool in an under stocked toolbox.
I will look forward to Thursday’s debate to hear what, if anything, either Trump or Biden have to say on the matter of mask use and public health policy that is of any worth.
Oh, and off topic, won’t it be nifty to hear what they both have to say about climate change…
David wrote: “I did not see anywhere that Greenhalgh wants to be called that.”
It isn’t that she wants to be called that, it is that she treats her position as a scientist as though she is the knowledgable one, not her fellow scientists. Indeed, she is so knowledgable that her opinion trumps not only her fellow scientists but decades of previous papers on the subject. This attitude of hers is why she was successful in bypassing science to have masks recommended, despite the science against and the lack of science for. Her “tireless promotion of masks, … ultimately helped win over policymakers.”
“Their advise is even if mask use impacts transmission rates a little or a lot, the proper use of a mask is a tool in an under stocked toolbox.“.
Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if this were actually true. However, our fearful leaders are well aware that masks do not work. Not only does the general public not use them properly, as Robert noted, but if they worked then all religious institutions would be fully open for full-capacity services, including singing, so long as masks were used. After all, masks are supposed to work against coughs, sneezes and songs. Since houses of worship are not open or are open only to a limited capacity, our fearful leaders acknowledge that masks are a failure. Many places are either limited in occupancy or are closed entirely, even with mask use, further proving that our fearful leaders understand that masks don’t work. Strangely, many of the general public do not comprehend this.
My point on mask use being a tool of xx? usefulness according to a family member who is a health professional facing this disease (and many others of course) everyday also pointed out that “proper use” of masks is part of it. If some folks can’t or won’t make the effort to use them properly, that’s on them, not the majority of medical professionals who advocate mask use and how to properly handle them.
Regarding the overarching question to how much use they could be if 95% of people used them in public situations (along with six feet of separation, etc.), I guess sadly, we will never know as too many adults refuse to follow the guidelines put forth by the CDC, NIH, WHO, etc.
Regarding churches, that’s not an issue where I live. As far as I know, they are all open and make attempts to have worshippers be comfortable, mask or no mask. Most also are trying to maintain the six foot separation guideline, but no one is being kept from worship regardless.
I don’t enjoy always wearing a mask in public, but I do it because it might help protect my fellow man. If it does that’s splendid. If not, that’s okay too; I’m just as free as I was before covid19 swept into our country.