On learning about the extension to Sydney’s lockdown until the end of July, my mind broiled with one big question: why?
A day later while browsing the various news sources I frequent, news of Victoria’s latest lockdown rining fresh in my ears, I found a piece by Abir Ballan, who has a masters in public health and a background in public health, psychology, and education. She’s been a passionate advocate for the inclusion of students with learning difficulties in schools. She has also published 27 children’s books in Arabic.
It didn’t answer the question broiling in my head, but the title of her article struck a chord: Question Everything. It begins: “Asking questions is at the heart of science. Science is not an institution and not an authority. Science is never settled. It’s forever evolving through conjecture and criticism. Questions form the basis of all scientific inquiry and scientific progress.
From the beginning, lockdowns were a questionable public health tool, even described as “pro-contagion” by professor John Ioannidis of Stanford University. As early as June 2020, papers showed that lockdowns and other nonpharmaceutical interventions had no effect on reducing deaths. We were all aware that lockdowns would have a terrible economic impact and devastating human toll, especially on the [vulnerable].
What her essay did do for me, though, was to underline one of the biggest questions we all have in these lockdown days: why have the decision-making politicians not caught up with, and included in their decision making, the evolving scientific/medical research as it has developed over the course of the pandemic? Why have they appeared to obstinately ignored and derided new research and credible medical opinion that is outside the orthodoxy (an orthodoxy they engineered) but representing well-credentialed research?
The most egregious failure in that area has been the despicable demonisation of cheap medications that have been demonstrated to be effective, information freely available. Likewise, the numerous research papers that have shown up the idiocy of lockdown hysteria.
“At least seven peer-reviewed research papers have struggled to find any relationship between lockdowns and Covid-19 cases and deaths”, Adam Creighton wrote in The Australian at the end of June. That was not the first but just the latest report to directly contradict policy decisions.
I don’t need to remind readers about the confused masquerade of miscommunication about wearing masks. Or about the received wisdom of children attending school in person, contradictory to policies now in place.
There is no logical answer to my question. Rather than logic or even politics, the question goes to human nature and to character. Human nature is such (and we all understand this) when we invest in a decision and promote it (whether in a private or a public context) we are not likely to admit we were wrong. And the more we insist on it, the less willing we are to stop pursuing it.
But this also goes to character: the inability to admit error is ignorance and weakness, not wisdom and strength. And the inability to learn from error is as bad as the inability to learn from evolving science and research.
Most of our politicians — and many of the agenda-driven, as opposed to driving, media — stand condemned for such weakness, when the situation calls for open-mindedness, courage and leadership. As for the chief medical advisors to governments, the less said the better: they have the power and therefore the responsibility to jettison junk science in favour of best practice.
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