Against Scientific Gatekeeping |

Jeffrey Singer gives us a sophisticated and articulate explanation for the politicization of the pandemic and the dysfunctional dialogue which ensued. He goes on to offer a prescient glimpse into why the democratization of science via the internet will forever change the preeminence of the scientific priesthood and obliterates credentialism as a credible tactic to shut down debate.

Science should be a profession, not a priesthood.


The COVID-19 pandemic provided many examples. Most medical scientists, for instance, uncritically accepted the epidemiological pronouncements of government-affiliated physicians who were not epidemiologists. At the same time, they dismissed epidemiologists as “fringe” when those specialists dared to question the conventional wisdom.

Or consider the criticism that rained down on Emily Oster, a Brown University economist with extensive experience in data analysis and statistics. Many dismissed her findings—that children had a low risk of catching or spreading the virus, an even lower risk of getting seriously ill, and should be allowed to normally socialize during the pandemic—because she wasn’t an epidemiologist. Ironically, one of her most vocal critics was Sarah Bowen, a sociologist, not an epidemiologist.

The deference to government-endorsed positions is probably related to funding. While “the free university” is “historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery,” President Dwight Eisenhower observed in his farewell address, “a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” He also warned that “we should be alert to the…danger that public policy could itself become captive of a scientific ​technological elite.” Today we face both problems.

Source: Against Scientific Gatekeeping

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