Corona and facts and where to find them.

Since Corona spread across the world, more and more lines of news have been devoted to medical facts, medical context, medical day to day work and medical research than ever before. However, much disinformation has been spread, due to the lack of knowledge or understanding of the actual topic, due to fear, or simply due to a mistaken believe that science and medicine are more of a ritual or believe instead of a fact and number-based world of possibilities. And I do mean possibilities here in the statistical sense.

Politicians have tried, and often failed, to make sense of all the conflicting data and have made mistakes accordingly. All too human mistakes and nothing to get hot under the collar about, but mistakes nonetheless. These mistakes have very little to do with the actual facts and a lot to do with how facts can change rapidly over a very short time span. Everyone who works in science knows about and accepts that scientific facts are a lot less like hard evidence than the proverbial knife sticking out of the back of the murder victim.

The scientific community understands facts as a baseline that needs to be questioned and researched upon. So fellow scientists will be questioned, their data will be looked at and researched upon and their ‘facts’ will be looked at from all kinds of different angles. But can we assume that the non-scientist knows that? No, we cannot and we should not. We should be very aware that public discourse about topics is quite different from scientific discourse and we should model our language accordingly.

So, if you are looking for facts about Corona and if you are trying to separate fact from fiction, read what the scientists are saying and understand that it is their best estimate about the situation at that particular moment in time. Not more, not less. It is not the scientists who make life difficult at the moment, it is the virus and we all should work to put it back in its box.

Published by the medical philosopher

I am a philosopher of science with the main focus on philosophy of medicine. I write about evidence based medicine, medical research versus medical practice, ethics in medicine and why medicine needs to be patient centred and how we can achieve that.

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