Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Public Policy Has Become More Representative Of Religion Than Science

@sameo416  |  “How Covid-19 spreads: narratives, counter-narratives and social dramas”. Some thoughts and highlight of one aspect, how what they describe is more representative of religion than science 

They distinguish between inside track and outside track that shape policy narratives while the inside track are the literal insiders, SAG. This sounds like Fleck’s esoteric and exoteric circles. In the Stanford entry on Fleck is this prescient para, h/t @awsparling
“If the position of an elite is stronger than the position of the masses, the elite isolates itself and demands obedience from the masses. Such collectives develop dogmatic styles of thinking in which a test of correctness is usually located in some distant past in a more or less mythical master or savior. Collective life acquires a ceremonial character and access to the esoteric circle is well-guarded. Conservatism reigns: there is no place for fundamentally new ideas, and one can only better or worse realize the revealed principles.” 
If that doesn’t sound familiar read some of .@AntibioticDoc posts. The arrogance and hubris we’ve seen out of most of the public health policy makers has exactly followed Fleck’s thought. ‘Demand obedience’ indeed. This bit: “This is characteristic of most religious collectives” 
Droplet dogma is the mythical master by which allegiance to the esoteric circle is assessed. Transgression from that master results in something many religious traditions have practiced, shunning.
I’ve worked both engineering and church ministry. Huge red flag for me when science slips into dogmatic practice and thought. Science, by definition, is supposed to be open to new knowledge at any point. Fortress Infection Control does not reflect that attribute. 
The article talks about ‘rituals of purification’ that ‘reinforce the official narrative’. This too is religion writ large. Liturgy and what you do at the altar all reinforce the underlying doctrine of the faith. The authors are spot on. 
For public masking, it’s discussed and shut down but no evidence is offered to support the anti-mask claims. This too is an aspect of religion. Can debate the types of robes, colours, music, but if we get to core dogma, like the divinity of Christ, there’s no room for debate. 
In discussing why the flawed narratives persist, authors highlight why people are unlikely to change their beliefs. Use of the word belief is significant here as that’s what is being described. I don’t have beliefs about the behaviour of electromagnetic radiation… 
I hold understandings that are open for revision with further data. Policymakers exhibit satisficing behaviour. Further reason is scientific elitism. This includes the fetishization of the RCT as the only source of reality. This enables a degree of symbolic violence. 
Except its not symbolic. Epistemic violence is violence, worse than blows in many ways. That is focused on ‘outside track’ voices, those outside the esoteric and exoteric circles. The focus on maintaining control consumes all energy that could go to real public protection 
Final super line, “…the combination of policymakers’ cognitive biases and satisficing behaviour, scientists’ desire to protect their interests, and politicians’ alignment with individualist values and populist sentiment proved perilous.”