By Walter E. Block
Suppose experts A claim that theory A is correct, and experts B claim that theory B is correct. We the people, non-specialists, know nothing about A or B. It concerns a field we’re not familiar with. Maybe physics or math or astronomy or global temperature change or virology or some other esoteric field.
However, there is one difference between them: the A’s accuse the B’s of being “deniers” (we all know where that comes from) of spreading “misinformation.” They attempt not only to get the B’s cancelled from the media and fired from their jobs, but, also, shamefully, to put them in jail! That is exactly the result of passing laws which prohibit “denying” and spreading “misinformation.”
I would be inclined in the direction of thinking B was more correct than A. My reasoning would be that if the A’s really had better access to the truth than the B’s, they wouldn’t have to resort to such nefarious tactics. The essence of science, after all, is open inquiry. The B’s are adhering to science; the A’s are not.
According to John Stuart Mill:
“Even in natural philosophy, there is always some other explanation possible of the same facts; some geocentric theory instead of heliocentric, some phlogiston instead of oxygen; and it has to be shown why that other theory cannot be the true one: and until this is shown, and until we know how it is shown, we do not understand the grounds of our opinion. But when we turn to subjects infinitely more complicated, to morals, religion, politics, social relations, and the business of life, three-fourths of the arguments for every disputed opinion consist in dispelling the appearances which favour some opinion different from it. The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary's case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practised as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. That is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of; else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition; even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess.”
Note that the A’s are trashing this magnificent statement of Mill. The B’s are doing no such thing. Rather, they acting entirely compatibly with it.
Who are the A’s and who are the B’s in this little tale? And what theory do each of them hold? If you don’t know immediately who’s who, you’ve been Rip Van Winkling it for the last 3 years or so. The A’s believe, heart and soul, even though they keep changing their minds about such matters, that masks, frequent hand-washing, isolation, the covid shot, social distancing are all efficacious, that covid arose from natural non-laboratory causes and that neither Hydroxychloroquine nor Ivermectin can be of any help. They deny that covid shots are implicated in rising rates of heart problems. The B’s demur.
If ever the human race is to escape from this morass, we’ll need all the help we can get. Traditionally science is the way we make progress. Too bad the A’s, the people in charge, are anti science.
P.S. this bad news has just come in. Here is the scare headline: “Scientists Fear New COVID Strains Are Deadly—Just Like 2020 Wave.” This reporter continues:
“The new COVID-19 subvariants that are becoming dominant all over the world aren’t just more contagious than previous variants and subvariants—they might cause more severe disease, too. That’s an ominous sign if, as experts predict, there’s a new global wave of COVID in the coming months. It’s one thing to weather a surge in infections that mostly results in mild disease. Cases go up but hospitalizations and deaths don’t. But a surge in serious disease could lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths, too. It could be like 2020 or 2021, all over again. The big difference is that we now have easy access to safe and effective vaccines. And the vaccines still work, even against the new subvariants.”
The big question is, of course, what do the other scientists and doctors think about this, the ones who are too scared to speak up? The answer is, we will never know. They have been muzzled, cancelled. We didn’t accomplish other things in this manner: the discovery of electricity, the airplane, the Salk polio vaccine. Hearing from only one side is no way to run a railroad.
This is science? If we want the benefits of science, we have to allow science to operate. It would appear that we are now more dependent on science than many times in the past. Too bad it is not now being allowed to operate, for our benefit, by the A’s.
Axe, Dave. 2022. “Scientists Fear New COVID Strains Are Deadly—Just Like 2020 Wave.” October 28. https://ca.news.yahoo.com/scientists-fear-covid-variants-deadly-015437963.html?soc_src=social-sh&soc_trk=ma
Mill, John Stuart. 1947 . On Liberty, Northbrook, IL: Ahm Publishing, p. 36; http://www.bartleby.com/130/
Evil acts of the A’s:
California to Doctors: Agree or Shut Up