Saturday, May 30, 2020

Coronavirus 33

Proof is a useful concept in formal logic and mathematics but has no place in science*, which is always provisional. Science seeks to describe and understand phenomena but descriptions and understandings are always subject to improvement. Scientists are always wrong but they share their findings so their work can be criticised and improved

It was government policy to keep their Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) advice secret. 

The minutes of SAGE meetings and supporting documentation (scientific data and analysis used to inform SAGE discussions) are typically published at the conclusion of the relevant emergency. - wrote the Government.


That really stops it being science as it is not open to peer review and improvement, an essential part of the scientific method. Now that the minutes of some SAGE meetings have been published, there will be much scrutiny of any advice that may, with hindsight, be demonstrated to have been wrong, and the Government and its supporters will doubtless reinforce their message that the Government followed the science. This was their Big Lie.

Cherry-picking advice from their chosen scientists, whose work was undisclosed and not subject to peer review, is not within the scientific method.

And importantly, as Anthony Costello of The Independent SAGE points out "The minutes of SAGE meetings before the fateful March 12 press briefing have not been released." 

The 60,000 and more deaths so far represent a Government failure so don't blame scientists.

Karl Popper

*Proof has a rather different meaning and usage in the context of courts of law and this varies with jurisdiction, England and Scotland having differences. Bakers using yeast depend on proving their product too, but that is something else. 

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