YouTube bans real science

At 92.8, this old physicist has achieved an unlikely goal: to be banned from YouTube.  Unfortunately, the ban was not for saying naughty stuff — porn or racist diatribes; rather, it was for teaching laymen how to use statistics to balance risk vs. reward (as in to vax your five-year-old or not to vax).

Here's the full story.  A few days ago (14 January), I participated in a webinar sponsored by ITEST (the Institute for Theological Encounters with Science and Technology), "Why Science is not God."  My contribution to the webinar was a 40-minute discussion of "Fr. Jaki's Limits of a Limitless Science."  In that talk, I emphasized the importance of skepticism, quoting Richard Feynman: "science is the organized skepticism in the reliability of expert opinion."

One way to organize such skepticism is to understand how statistics can be used (and can be misused).  In assessing statistical data, one should do a risk-vs.-reward analysis.  Even though bad consequences from an action may be very improbable, if they are very bad, then the action should be avoided unless the good outcome from the action outbalances the bad.  (The analogy is balancing a teeter-totter — short arm, low probability very bad consequences, long arm high probability, minor good.) 

I applied this general reasoning to the issue of vaccinating young children against COVID-19.  Mortality tables show that COVID death rates for young adults, teenagers, and young children are negligible compared to other causes of death.  So the benefit from vaccination of young children and teenagers is demonstrably minimal.  What about long-term consequences?  We know that vaccines were not tested for long-term effects.  We've read about rare (but deadly) instances of myocarditis.  Is that low-probability outcome with very adverse effects enough to balance out a minimal gain from vaccination?  That's the question for a parent to decide.

Two days after giving this webinar, Dr. Sebastian Mahfood, the director of ITEST, was informed by YouTube that the webinar had been pulled.

Hi Sebastian Mahfood,

Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately we think it violates our medical misinformation policy.  We've removed the following content from YouTube: Video ITEST Webinar, "Why Science is Not God with Dr. Bob Kurland and Sr. Carla Mae Streeter. OP" We know this might be disappointing, but it's important to us that YouTube  is a safe place for all…. HOW YOUR CONTENT VIOLATED OUR POLICY:   YouTube doesn't allow claims about Covid-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus (emphasis added) from local health authorities and the World Health Organization.

What irritates me is the phrase "contradict expert consensus," made by reviewers who know zilch about what science is all about.  So much for open debate about scientific issues.  The webinar video has been reposted on Vimeo.

* But all's well, so to speak, that ends well.  Dr. Mahfood informed me that the webinar is back on YouTube.  As he put it, "I sent some positive and prayerful thoughts in the direction of the YouTube operators, and it worked!"

Dr. Kurland is a graduate of Caltech (B.S., 1951, "with honor") and Harvard (M.S., 1953, Ph.D., 1956).  His scientific career (Carnegie-Mellon, SUNY/AB, Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger Medical Center) has focused on biochemical and biological applications of magnetic resonance, including MRI.  In 1984 he received the statewide SUNY Chancellor's Teaching Award.

Image: YouTube.
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