How Judy Mikovits and fellow Covid quacks are portraying themselves. Nobody with a grain of sense should bite.
"We're living in a moment when the U.S. is a laughingstock or a subject of pity around the world. Look at the chart of nations and all who've gotten their cases down, some at or near zero. Then look at the graph going straight up. That is us, our cases are skyrocketing. We are living in this tragedy, this national humiliation for all to see." - Chris Hayes, on 'All In', July 2nd
The Right's clowns and cranks as well as quacks, now appear to have gotten inside the head of Ari Schulman, author of an article entitled: 'The Counter Scientific Revolution - Coronavirus And The Galilean Right' (New Republic, July-August, p. 22) See e.g.
First, there is no "scientific counter revolution" marshaled by the likes of the crackpot Judy Mikovits (featured in the mockumentary 'Plandemic'), or the Stanford "meta research" quack John Ioannidis - who claimed the lockdowns were implemented without adequate evidence - and who I skewered in a previous post, i.e.
WHO Are These Anti-Lockdown Medical Quacks That Ke...
Wherein I pointed out critics' objections to a paper by Ioannidis, e.g.
"These critics have pointed out - the study was "not random in selection" and "disproportionately weighted toward white women under 64".
"He leaves out the demographics most susceptible to the virus (African Americans and the elderly) then has the nerve to trot out this B.S. that the fatality rate is comparable to seasonal flu? I call quackery! "
Second, Schulman's complaint appears to be mostly with the legit scientific establishment, though he does concede the experts' initial "dilatory announcements" (such as "fudging the question of whether masks were needed") contributed to an opening for Trump to exploit to his own ends with his anti-mask, anti-science tribe. As Schulman puts it:
"As President Trump has shown, where trust declines, debunkers abound. Though the dysfunctional politics of expert-administered modern science claims a distinctly left-leaning valence and genealogy, it has lately found the American right to be an obliging host organism. "
But this exploitation by Trump and the Right's diehard science deniers or skeptic quacks does not endow their position with any genuine "counter science" based on evidence. Nor does it confer on them the mantle of Galieo Galilei which they are now attempting to grab. (I.e. to show they are victims of an orthodox establishment like Galileo was of the Inquisition, when he proposed his heliocentric theory to counter the geocentric - Ptolemaic - one embraced by the Roman Catholic Church)
This is false analogy because Galileo was the ultimate empirical scientist who came to his theory by patient observations, such as studying the motions of the moons of Jupiter, as well as conducting other experiments (e.g. inclined plane) in which he also tested for errors and faulty assumptions. Something the Trumpkins never do. Nor do they grasp that science is a process of self-correction in the context of successive approximations. If the Trumpkin "counter revolutionaries", cranks and quacks grasped that they'd know that initial errors or wrong assumptions (or prescriptions for behavior) are nothing new as a novel phenomenon is confronted.
Ok, Schulman does acknowledge this up to a point but then insists his real issue is with the media and other public institutions just imbibing the experts' pronouncements, as if they can't be challenged. As he writes:
"The problem is not merely the experts were wrong - that is to be expected. It is, rather, that our lead institutions and public information outlets continually teated the assurances of experts as neutral interpretations of settled science when they plainly were not. And these expert recommendations were translated into the dominant political discourse not mainly as a difficult judgment about to how to act against a novel, poorly understood threat - but as a pretext to police the boundaries of public opinion, to sneer at its dissenters."
But cripes, what would one expect in the middle of a pandemic the likes of which no one has seen before? Do we really want every Tom, Dick and Suzy sounding off and the media judging their opinions with equal weight to experts? And look, by mid -April it was pretty damned clear what needed to be done, i.e. masks were needed like in Asian nations, and extended lockdowns were the primary key to snuffing the virus' spread early on. This was not rocket science, or as ambiguous an aspect as Schulman makes it out to be. In particular, flattening the curve was a genuine observable effect of necessary behaviors in those nations that took Covid-19 seriously. By which I mean had a nationally coordinated response, as opposed to a piecemeal 'do as you please" one like for the U.S. We also have more than enough evidence from sundry nations' curves that both masks and lockdowns prevented exponential increases. These exponential increases in case loads now happen to be overwhelming our U.S. hospitals.
I suspect, because no national mask mandate was ordered, which yes - needed some serious "sneering at dissenters" like these knuckledragging fools:
But what interested me is the genesis of the Right's connection to Galileo or these crackpots being referred to (by Schulman) as "the Trumpian, Galilean Right". Evidently it began with Judy Mikovits whose grievances against her original academic (virology) community led her to deliberately make insipid comparisons with Galileo. As Schulman describes it:
"Mikovits is the most telling of the Covid skeptics. Plandemic depicts her as a persecuted truth-teller daring to speak out against a corrupt scientific orthodoxy. (Anthony Fauci features as a key villain in the film and in Mikovits’s counter-theories about the virus.) Her book Plague of Corruption: Restoring Faith in the Promise of Science, published in April, offers as an epigraph Galileo’s reply, according to lore, to his Vatican inquisitors after being condemned as a heretic—“Eppur si muove” (And yet it moves). In anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s foreword to the book, he expands on the alleged Galileo parallel, and describes Mikovits as a “revolutionary” offering “censored and ‘dangerous’ science,” who suffered a “lynching” at the hands of the establishment. Coronavirus skeptics on the right have eagerly embraced this image of counter-experts as martyrs, heroes standing up to the Inquisition—and the counter-experts themselves have largely embraced the role."
Well, you can't make this crap up, folks. There it is. But don't be fooled! Mokovits is no latter day Galileo, far from it. And the Right's anti-maskers and anti-lcockdown twits are not "martyrs" nor are the quacks and cranks they depend upon. As if to try to justify this, Schulman writes at one point:
"The product of these dynamics has not been, as we are often told, a Republican rejection of science itself—of its methodologies, its hunger for knowledge of the world, its desire for mastery over nature, its admiration for the excellence on display in rational inquiry. Rather, it has been the adoption of an outsider’s stance to the current scientific establishment—to its particular institutions, and to the pronouncements of its expert class."
"Outsider's stance", bollocks! All of this followed endless debates "over embryonic stem cell research, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, and cloning—in which liberal partisans claimed the mantle of science for their side." But truth be told, serious science backed up most of the practical positions, such as for stem cell research and abortion. (Cloning has since been determined not all it was originally cracked up to be, and again I emphasize the word "originally" before the actual experiments were conducted in detail.)
Then, fortunately, Schulman - perhaps realizing he got carried away with what might be construed as too much sympathy for the Trumpie quacks, cranks and zombies - writes:
"the Trump era has given all but free rein to the right’s adoption of the Galilean stance. Perhaps this was inevitable: It is the clearest model available in our culture’s scientific mythology, however tenuous a relationship it may bear to history, of a figure dissenting from mainstream scientific views, one who sees himself as persecuted by a corrupt orthodoxy to which he is the rightful heir. The Galileo myth is also continuous with a long history of scientific gadflies who see themselves carrying forward the legacy of the Enlightenment model of skeptical inquiry: the radical individual freed from the oppression of institutions, in something of a funhouse-mirror image of the real work of science. The problem we’re now seeing, however, is that the Galileo model now often eventuates not only in counterinstitutional inquiry, but also in bad science. Though the Galileo posture is a response to a genuine alienation—and some real persecution—it is also an all too convenient pose."
And it’s crucial to recognize how the debunking style of the latter-day Galilean pose departs from the earlier modes of opposition to the scientific establishment. Whereas those were attempts—sometimes robust, sometimes cynical—to establish a set of countervailing scientific institutions, the Galilean mode is a free-floating anti-institutionalism. It is, to cite an old saw, the dilemma of the dog chasing a car: It wouldn’t know what to do if it caught it.
President Trump’s relationship to science during the pandemic offers a sobering instance of just how badly things can go once the dog catches the car. Even now that they hold the reins of power over crucial elements of the scientific establishment, he and his defenders have evinced an inability to understand how to relate to the scientific discourse in anything other than an aggrieved outsider’s role."
Well, at least he comes to that sound judgment near the end. Better than not at all, so I could at least recognize some content as from The New Republic and not The National Review!