• Scott Britton

You Don't Believe Those Bogus COVID-19 Tests

Updated: Aug 22, 2020

In a way you are right. it turned out that the tests Public Health Officials have been using are actually too sensitive for the threshold of virus amplification with this respiratory pathogen. FDA sets the protocols which are helpful for clinical purposes but not so much for public health purposes. What has been happening is that the current tests are catching people predominately at the tail end of the infections rather than when we need to, i.e., when they are infectious and dangerous to others. In fairness, the biology of life is pretty complicated stuff and it has only been 7 months.

I have never seen so much data on a particular infectious disease emerge so quickly. We are learning faster about SARS-COV-19 than we have on any disease-causing pathogen ever. Still, it doesn't help that people are political, on both sides of the aisle politics have made things harder rather than easier. This is not the time to reject good ideas no matter where they come from. This is a time where Americans need to set our differences aside and save our economy and protect our neighbors. It is a time of war against a vicious infectious disease that doesn't care whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. It is time to get smart and check what sources we relying on for our information.

If someone owns a saltwater aquarium he doesn't go to the media to learn to condition the water and make sure that the salinity, turbidity, temperature, and nutrients are right for his pets. Instead, he relies on people who understand the science. If you find that your HVAC is doing a poor job filtering and exchanging the air in your home, you call specialists. So how much more important is it that when it comes to public health we listen to Virologists, Immunologists, the people who actually work every day with those things?

Of course, when it comes to microscopic viruses, especially newly discovered one, even virologists don't always get the mechanism right. Still, collectively there is a great body of emerging knowledge and those people offer our best chance of getting a handle on things. There is only one science but many specialties. Medical science relies on teams of people to get the job right. Ph.D.'s play and postdocs play their role in scientific medicine by constantly investigating, asking new questions, designing studies to answer those inquires, and building data from such studies.

Real science isn't a religion, We shouldn't trust anyone who tries to make it into one. Science has limitations. For example, it can't tell us "why" things work the way they do. We need God for that. Real science is all about "how" things work. Such a methodology is the reason we have telephones, vaccines, and organ transplants. The scientific method keeps science honest through third-party double-blinded and controlled studies. It takes away the biases we all have and focuses us on important questions. Good science is published in respected journals before it becomes mainstream news. New information in science must overcome many hurdles before it is widely accepted. Including the wise discretion of scientific journal editorial staff who unlike mainstream media, are themselves, actual scientists, checking the quality of the papers submitted for publication before they are ever published.

But something newly published in a scientific journal remains suspect, as it must still pass the test of time. It must be peer-reviewed before it is widely accepted in the scientific community. The community includes universities and private companies having skin in the game of research and development. This is why I watch the podcasts from a group of virologists (Columbia Medical School Virology Professor Vincent Racaniello's has been hosting TWiV for years) Professor Racaniello constantly has qualified guests survey the papers emerging in the journals and I learn things in the correct context, without a faulty filter of media who it seems are looking more times than not to sell me a narrative consistent with their politics and ratings.

Just like there are good Pastors and bad ones. There are good science and pseudoscience. But it takes some skin in the game, some commitment to disciplined study, to really tell the difference between the two. Much of what is published on mainstream media and social media is from people who either can't tell the difference or else are purposely distorting the data, for reasons consistent with the political masterpiece "The Art of War. University graduates are not necessarily smarter than you are, they are just usually better informed, and that really is the advantage of higher education.

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