The eminent scholar

So we discover that the secular world is just as fanatical about its scholars as the religious, championing every eminent scientist that supports the political or ideologically position of the moment, trumpeting their seat in a glorious institution as evidence of veracity.

Here, eminence trumps evidence-based research. The fact that a scientist teaches at Harvard, Stanford or Oxford is held to be more important than the quality of their data. Blinded by his eminence, every voice scrambling for business-as-usual, now champions the research scientist who published his findings early. It does not matter to them whether his data has been superseded by events, which contradict his conclusions: all that matters — the only significant factor — is his eminence, belonging to an eminent institution.

Note that there are many scientists who have changed their mind as more data has emerged. Some of them have had the decency to apologise, and admit that they got it wrong, having based their assumptions on the data that was available at the time. That is how science is supposed to work. The blame mostly lies with those seeking evidence to support their pre-existing conclusions and ideological positions. These are like the zealots of the religious realm.

I confess to have been deeply disappointed by the analysis of people I have long admired, who see a conspiracy of sorts everywhere. It seems not to have occurred to them that the current crisis is not just about mortality. What of the as yet unknown long-term effects and neurological deficits of this novel virus, that turns out not to be just like flu after all.

I suppose we cannot blame people who do not work in healthcare settings for not having a heightened awareness of the crisis at hand. I suppose we cannot blame people for interpreting events through the lens of their own circumstances. I suppose we all need some kind of certainty to hold fast to.

Perhaps the eminent scholar helps us cement the certainty we crave. Whether they are right or wrong is immaterial; all that matters is that they provide the cover we need.

If only that was how it worked.

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