The folly of simply 'following the science'

When Democrats say "follow the science" with regard to COVID-19, it's clear that they are thinking of a static model, one in which every single relevant factor is unchanging.  If that were the case, it would be possible to change one of those factors and watch a cascade of presumably positive outcomes for all the other factors.  But that's not how science works.  COVID is a dynamic virus, and it's at work in an equally dynamic world.

For people who follow the scientific method, it's frustrating in these days of COVID-19 and its mutants to hear glib politicians say, "Follow the science."  The problem with this shallow approach is that, in the real world, "the science" is also simultaneously following us, the viruses, and the vaccines.

To borrow analogically from the arena of quantum mechanics in physics, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle states that for particles exhibiting both particle and wave nature, it will not be possible to accurately determine both the position and velocity of a particle at the same time.  When you are focused on one, you cannot track the other.  The German physicist Werner Heisenberg proposed the uncertainty principle in the year 1927, and it's as true now as it was then.

In epidemiological science and more so in politics, uncertainty reigns!  The epidemiological curves tracing the incidence of new COVID cases cannot at the same time determine the capricious and fluctuating cooperation of human beings.  Around the world, there are different societal and individual approaches to mask use, social distancing behavior, and cooperation with vaccine injections, not to mention vastly different medical infrastructures.

Looked at this way, we can see the difficulty of "following the science" of COVID-19 — "the science" itself is constantly changing.  A further complexity is that the RNA viruses themselves change and mutate in response to increasing numbers of vaccinated people and the COVID virus's mutations to survive.

And of course, political policies and leadership also mutate.  The viruses are currently communicating better than the scientists trying to kill them.  As when it comes to bad policies, it's likely we never will find a vaccine against those.

Image: Atom image.  Rawpixel license.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

If you experience technical problems, please write to