Policy & Ethics

Scientists say that talcum baby powder doesn't cause cancer. Trial lawyers say it does. As usual, the lawyers win. Scientists, common sense, and Americans lose.
American culture, specifically our disdainful attitude toward expertise and leadership, is not conducive to making improvements to public health policy. Don't expect many changes in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Somewhere along the way, our achievable goal of "flattening the curve" for COVID-19 has mutated into "finding a cure," which is perhaps an impossible one. Public health and economic policy must be based on reality, not starry-eyed wish-making. Otherwise, people's lives and livelihoods are in grave danger.
As we turn to social mingling once again, those of us blessed with 20-20 hindsight are increasingly angry at the models used by policymakers in locking us down. It is time to speak of the misuse of tools and regret.
Belief in human overpopulation is not just factually incorrect. It also leads otherwise decent people to endorse policies that are pure evil. How the British responded to the Irish Potato Famine serves as a case-in-point.
Publishing propaganda as news is dishonest and lets readers down. Dr. Henry Miller (pictured), the founding director of the FDA's Office of Biotechnology, explains.
In order for restaurants in Washington State to reopen for dining in, they will be required to keep a log of customer names and contact information in case contact tracing is necessary. This is smart, not only to fight the coronavirus but foodborne infectious disease outbreaks as well.
If the spread of COVID-19 is unstoppable, infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Johan Giesecke says that we must shift our public health strategy away from a futile attempt to prevent its spread and toward providing optimal care for the sickest patients.
How would we respond differently if another outbreak happened?
Many politicians insist that they will "follow the science" in regard to reopening the economy. But the COVID-19 pandemic has placed us in uncharted territory with few relevant precedents to guide policymaking. Therefore, "Follow the science," is indistinguishable from, "Do what I say." This doesn't prevent activist websites like Undark from smearing reputable scientists who speak out in disagreement.
Should we open up the economy immediately or remain on lockdown indefinitely until a vaccine is made? Believe it or not, there are other options. It's too bad that society isn't smart enough to understand that.
A recent poll shows that 78% of Americans support stay-at-home orders. As the economy comes crashing down to levels not seen since the Great Depression, our social fabric will begin to rip, and the public will change its mind.