Why Ignore the Data: An Analysis of Scientific Consensus in Relation to Current Pandemic

What It’s Supposed to Be

Any time I hear the phrase “scientific consensus” I get a bit wary. Science is supposed to be based on a study of the evidence. An argument for the correct interpretation of the facts. Science is meant to be practiced objectively. Science ought to be performed in such a way to test all things and adhering to only that which is good—i.e., the truth vs. error (cf. 1Thess 5.21).

The Human Element…

Here’s the problem though, the scientific method (which is operational science at its finest) is used by imperfect beings. A point acknowledged by Del Ratzsch highlighted in his book Science and Its Limits:

“…philosophers of science have begun to pay more attention to the human side of science, to see it as in some ways essential to science. The fact that science is done by subjective humans is no longer seen as the regrettable factor it was once taken to be. Science is increasingly taken to be an undeniably human pursuit.”[1]

Moreover, science tends to have a sociocultural flavor as a result. In this case then, science tends to be driven by “…various social preconceptions, philosophical outlooks and agendas in its very bones. Indeed, these would be its bones.”[2]

Worldview Awareness…

Interestingly enough, the majority of people never consider that “science” is practiced by “scientists” and those “experts” like the rest of humanity have a personal outlook on the world in which they live. That is to say, they like all people have minds that are operated under the governance of a worldview. They view the world, reality as a whole, from the bottom of their own philosophical foundations. What is often referred to in science as a paradigm.

Also called a Paradigm…

What’s a paradigm? If you were to look in a dictionary, you’d find the following definition, “An example that serves as a pattern or a model.”[3] Scientific philosopher Thomas Kuhn produced a work in 1962 entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this work, Kuhn identified the use of paradigms in scientific inquiry and how those patterns or models helped shape scientific outcome. Ratzsch points out that this was perhaps Kuhn’s most important conceptual observation about science:

“A paradigm is, roughly, a standard of scientific achievement in terms of which scientific work is conducted and evaluated.”[4]

This standard then serves, to explain how varying postulates (presuppositions or assumed truths) about reality fit in with the world in which we live. In short, the paradigm is what guides understanding and interpretation of so-called “facts and evidences” in the world in which we live.

The Evidence that is…

What happens when facts or evidence (i.e., data) seems to run counter to previously held norms found within the current sociocultural paradigm of scientific inquiry? What is done with these anomalies that go against current expectations? Again, Ratzsch insight is helpful,

“Sometimes they [Scientists] do not even seem to notice the anomaly, and sometimes they do, they simply ignore it. Usually, however, there is some attempt to show the apparent anomaly is not really an anomaly after all, that someone simply made a mistake…Sometimes such attempts are successful. But sometimes they are not, and the anomaly apparently stands as a fact contrary to the paradigm. What do scientists do then? Sometimes nothing. Despite it being contrary to the paradigm, scientist simply view it as being an unimportant violation of the paradigm.”[5]

Now, its possible that you may be wondering why scientists would ignore new data, new evidence, new facts if in the pursuit of science, they are really seeking to see the truth of reality in an effort to avoid error. You might find it strange to think that someone would ignore what is in front of their eyes, why they would doggedly hold to preconceived notions if those notions of reality were in some way wrong? This is due to the subjective nature of humanity.

Pesky Presuppositions…

Scientist, whether they dress like you or me, or whether they wear a fancy white lab coat, are just as biased as the next fellow. They are just as committed to their worldviews as you and I are. And so, when they look at the world, they see it as they see it primarily because of preconceived ideas. The paradigm that they’ve adopted controls the narrative. They assume that their

“…particular paradigm embodie[s] the correct approach to nature and  [are] not…particularly concerned with either verifying its correctness ( it [is] already taken as being correct) or with trying to falsify it (if it is correct trying to show it [is] incorrect seems pointless).”[6]

So, why all the technical verbiage? “What are you trying to do man…make me fall asleep?” No, that’s not my intention. I want to make you aware of something that far too many people are not. “Well, what is it?” I’m glad you asked.

In Light of COVID-19…

From the outset of the argument for the reactionary behavior we have seen from politicians, medical experts, scientists, and the media has supposedly been based on the science. The data they argued supported a severe lockdown and the restriction of the American citizenry. This was not only done here in the USA, but also in other parts of the world. Due to fear of the unknown, based off of projections from available (though insufficient) data being plugged into certain models, the strain on the health care system, the lack of necessary equipment and testing, and the rapid spread of an assumed deadly virus, we were told that the best thing we could do was “Stay-At-Home” in order to “Flatten-the-Curve.”

And by and large people accepted the testimony of those supposed to be in the know. We were led to believe that this pursuit was merely scientific and nothing else. However, if those things are true, then you would think that more data that we could gain regarding the spread and morbidity of this novel corona virus, the better.

Incoming Data by way of Antibody Testing

Recently, various studies have been done attempting to find out who in our population has already been infected with the virus but recovered. Antibody testing is the best way to determine the total number of cases by taking samples of the given population.[7] If the number of infected is significantly higher than the death toll, specifically per capita numbers, then the virus is more contagious than we thought, but far less deadly.

Should Result in…

This would tell us a couple of things necessary to getting back our lives. First, there ought to be less fear of overrunning our health care system (which hasn’t occurred). Second, the fear of not having a vaccine for another 18 months or so should be far less daunting (we still have vaccines for virus’ that kill tens of thousands every year). Third, keeping us at home is no longer necessary since there is no way to keep up with the easily spread, but less dangerous, virus (the norm of quarantining anyway is keeping the sick separated from the healthy).

Good News…

You would think that would be good news for the population at large. You would think that scientists and other “experts” would want that information. You would think that the media would be excited by this and tell the good news from every mountain top. But alas, this is not what we see being done. Rather than share new data being gathered about corona virus antibodies existent in a larger portion of certain populations than originally thought, there is an effort to suppress, belittle and mock such information.

The Going on in Santa Clara County…

One study conducted by Stanford University’s medical/research staff “reveals between 48,000 and 81,000 people in Santa Clara County alone may have already been infected by corona virus by early April—that’s 50-85 times more than the number of official cases at that date.”[8] The weekend after this reporting was done a social media kickback on Twitter ensued. Krieger writes, “Critics claim the study’s methodology is dangerously flawed and question the political motives of the Stanford-led team.”[9]

Another study was done in Los Angeles, CA by the University of Southern California. Their initial antibody testing revealed similar results to the one performed by Stanford. Though somewhat lower in terms of total apparent infections being unreported, their high threshold of estimated infections extrapolated from the data “…is 55 times more people than have been confirmed via testing.”[10] However, the author warns that though this reveals a discrepancy in the total number of confirmed cases and appears to indicate a lower morbidity rate “…this new info just means that COVID-19 is much more effective at moving through a population without raising early warning signs than we previously understood.”[11]

Observations Worth Noting

So, what does all this mean? Or at the very least what does all this imply? One of the things that I think is absolutely necessary for us to take note of is the manner in which any new data is taken by those who adhere to the current sociocultural paradigm regarding this new strain of corona virus.

The Everchanging Non-Changing Narrative…

The narrative from the beginning has been very dire. Although sufficient data was lacking, models were presented with hypothetical worst-case scenarios. The projected numbers for the U.S. alone based off of the models was that nearly 2.2 million Americans would lose their lives. Those projections have been somewhat dampened to around 60 thousand deaths around the peak, which was supposed to be Easter weekend. That number wasn’t reached and so now we are talking about a potential second wave this fall that will meet those numbers.

On one hand the narrative has changed in that the “goal-posts” are constantly being moved in order to justify current actions and new proposals for a “new normal.” On the other hand, the narrative hasn’t changed. The virus that was guessed to be more deadly than the seasonal flu is still being propagated as such even when the models are shown to be inaccurate and the experts wrong.

Now we have new data coming in from places like Stanford and the University of Southern California that are showing that the current infection rates were/are apparently way off. It seems as if this novel virus is much more contagious than originally thought, but far less deadly. As more data comes in, I’d imagine that we shall see this virus is probably on par with the seasonal flu, even without a vaccine. (Remember, we have a vaccine for the seasonal flu but deaths are on average still in the tens of thousands every year in the U.S. alone).

Kuhn was right…

However, the kickback against the new data affirms what Thomas Kuhn observed as a philosopher of science. Scientific data is governed by the paradigm (the accepted narrative) held by the “scientific community.” When data is presented that offers problems with the current paradigm that data will either be ignored (this is being done right now), or it will be attacked as a mistake or found at fault due to human error (this too is being done right now), or it will be grafted in and the paradigm will have to evolve to include this new data. This will result in a paradigm shift. Which means that the scientists and medical experts along with the greedy politicians will have to admit that they were wrong, that the virus while new was not as threatening as supposed.

A Generation or So…

How long do you think that will take? Normal people in day-to-day life don’t like to admit that they were/are wrong. So, do you really expect those “experts” who have deemed themselves as “essential” will admit that they might have been wrong about anything? Millions of lives have been devastated from following their lead. To admit they are wrong would be to admit that they are responsible. It’ll take a few generations, after those people have long passed before we see that day coming. But you…yes YOU…need to be aware of these things and start governing your life accordingly.

I’ll leave you with a meme that I find most enjoyable.  Have a great weekend!



[1] Del Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits: The Natural Sciences in Christian Perspective, 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 62.

[2] Ibid., 53. Italics in original.

[3] American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition (New York, NY: Bantam Dell, 2007), 612, s.v. “paradigm.”

[4] Ratzsch, Science and Its Limits, 41.

[5] Ibid., 43. Italics in original.

[6] Ibid., 42. Italics in original. Brackets added for clarity of thought.

[7] “Antibody, or serological, tests are designed to identify people who may have overcome covid-19, including those who had no symptoms, and developed an immune response…Some officials tout the blood tests as a way to reopen the economy by identifying individuals who have developed immunity and can safely return to work.” Laurie McGinley, “Dozens of coronavirus antibody tests on the market were never vetted by the FDA, leading to accuracy concerns,” The Washington Post, April 19, 2020, https://www.boston.com/news/health/2020/04/19/dozens-of-coronavirus-antibody-tests-on-the-market-were-never-vetted-by-the-fda-leading-to-accuracy-concerns.

[8] Lisa M. Krieger, “Coronavirus: Santa County has had 50 to 85 times more cases than we knew about, Stanford estimates,” Bay Area News Group, last modified April 20, 2020, The Mercury News, https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/17/coronavirus-2-5-to-4-2-of-santa-clara-county-residents-infected-stanford-estimates/.

[9] Lisa M. Krieger, “Feud over Stanford coronavirus study: ‘The authors owe us all an apology,’” The Orange County Register, last modified April 21, 2020, https://www.ocregister.com/2020/04/20/feud-over-stanford-coronavirus-study-the-authors-owe-us-all-an-apology/.

[10] Darrell Etherington, “LA COVID-19 antibody study adds further support for a higher-than-suspected infection rate,” TechCrunch, April 20, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/l-covid-19-antibody-study-205912221.html.

[11] Ibid.