COVID Counterpunch

‘Follow the Science’ Is Anti-science

Photo by Brian Asare

As we’ve all witnessed in the last year, “follow the science” has become a popular mantra and convenient rhetorical tool for justifying COVID policies.

Unsurprisingly, opinions about scientific findings tend to fall along partisan lines.

You can usually guess someone’s politics based on their opinions about nearly every COVID-related topic. The upshot of this hyper-politicization is that it has led to well-deserved skepticism of not only policies, but also the science upon which they are allegedly based. 

So much has been made of this skepticism that prominent “follow-the-science” folks are demanding a war on “misinformation” and “anti-scientific” messaging.

Speaking a recent Vatican conference, Chelsea Clinton expressed her desire to suppress social media posts that are critical of COVID vaccines.

“I personally very strongly believe there has to be more intensive and intentional and coordinated global regulation of the content on social media platforms,” she said.

Influential medical researcher and frequent TV news guest Peter J. Hotez has proposed “steps to dismantle the accelerating disinformation,” including “the potential necessity of assertively confronting anti-science, even if this exceeds the usual confines of biomedicine or the comfort zone of scientists.

“This may include an appetite to dismantle and remove anti-science content and organizations from the social media and e-commerce sites.” – Peter J. Hotez, “Anti-Science Kills

Hotez also proposed creating an interagency government task force with officials from the CDC, FDA, or U.S. National Institutes of Health, “but also the Departments of Justice, State, Commerce, and Homeland Security.”

Got that?

Science is now synonymous with an enforced intellectual and political monoculture.

“Follow the science,” or else they will stifle speech and sic Homeland Security on the heretics. Not only is that attitude totalitarian, it’s hilariously anti-scientific.

Time-was, science was a process, not an institution. Engaging in science required skepticism and epistemic humility, or the ability to say “I don’t know.”

Science was in the business of falsifying claims and helping us to find the truth, not to confirm our political inclinations. There wasn’t one infallible monolithic science. And “science” was certainly not a state-sponsored PR buzzword.

The “science” that the ruling class wants us to “follow” bears no resemblance to the time-honored process of interrogating the truth or falsity of our beliefs. Instead they’ve turned it into arrogant certitude that serves the interests of technocratic politics. 

Scientific certitude should be reserved for things that are, well…certain. And if the last year has taught us anything, it should be that not much is certain. 

Anyone telling you otherwise is anti-science.

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