Bad Science = Bad Outcomes

[Note: this posting is intended as a backgrounder for reporters. Others will probably want to skip it.]

The single most important course I took in my meteorology-math-engineering education at the University of Oklahoma was "History of Science." Our instructor was from behind the Iron Curtain and was passionate about preventing science's misuse. For a full semester, we were drilled on the importance of the scientific method and how science is supposed to work. What we learned applied to all sciences.
Headline from 1978 "Science News" questioning whether
Dr. Ted Fujita's downburst hypothesis was "a lot of hot air"
The blog posting below about Governor Kelly's mask order has generated a lot of questions and some controversy. I have spoken with reporters in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. I've answered a number of questions online. Please allow me to write a little more to help put some things into perspective. My concern is wider than masks or Governor Kelly's order. It is the integrity of science.

The most important point:

Bad Science = Bad Outcomes
Science, properly practiced, is one of the greatest forces for good in the history of the world. But, bad science causes bad outcomes. Here are a few examples of bad science from medicine and from my primary field of meteorology.
  • Ulcers were believed to be caused by spicy food, even though there had never been a scientific study that pointed to that cause. For fifteen years, the medical profession rejected the work -- without counter-evidence -- of two Australian physicians who did studies and found ulcers were caused by a bacterium. They were given the 2005 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery and for all of the mocking and ridicule to which they were subjected. Happy ending you say? What about the millions of people who died of bleeding ulcers in the interm who could have been saved with a simple antibiotic?
  • We have a gigantic obesity problem in the United States. In the 1970's and 80's, we were told, over and over, "To lose weight, eat bread and pasta." We now know that was completely wrong. But, that was the FDA/CDC's opinion; and was not based on careful scientific study. There was careful study that showed eating proteins and fats were the way to lose weight. Yet Dr. Atkins' work was mercilessly mocked, even though he had scientific evidence. Turns out, he was correct. We will be living with the results of the FDA/CDC's error for another generation.
  • If you are of a certain age do you remember, "In case of tornado, go to the southwest corner of the basement"? There had never been a study establishing that, either. It just seemed right to the Weather Bureau. When a study was done by a University of Kansas researcher, he found that southwest corner was the worst place to be. For two decades, Dr. Joe Eagleman's study was laughed at or ignored until it was confirmed by multiple independent studies. Eagleman showed that many people were dying because of the "southwest corner" advice.  
  • And, finally, if you saw Mr. Tornado on PBS last month, you learned that Dr. Ted Fujita was mercilessly derided over his discovery of downbursts, a previously unknown type of storm that caused airliners to crash. There was a downburst in Amarillo eleven days ago. After eight years professional torture and sleepless nights, the investigation of the crash of Delta 191 in 1985 irrefutably showed Fujita was correct. But, hundreds of people suffered unnecessary, fiery deaths from 1977-1985, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost aircraft. 
Bottom line: Serious harm can come from promoting -- let alone imposing by law -- actions merely because they "seem" right.  

Next: I have trouble trusting scientists that lie to us. 

Please note: In the video Dr. Fauci is asked, "Are you sure [we should not be wearing masks]?" He reiterates we should not be wearing masks because they are not effective.

Now, with no apparent new science, we are supposed to be wearing masks. Why? In Dr. Fauci's later words, "I want to make [mask wearing] a symbol..."

In his latest pronouncement, Dr. Fauci says it is our fault. On June 1, he said,
"An 'alarming large' number of American's are 'anti-science'"
What we have not heard Dr. Fauci say is, "A newly published study demonstrates..." All of this is merely his opinion. Dr. Fauci lied to us about HIV/AIDS in the 1980's so this not new behavior for him.

Please do not try to convince me my information is incorrect by quoting Dr. Fauci or the Surgeon General. I can easily be convinced if there is new, reliable science on the subject. When you interview a physician, epidemiologist, or a public health official, ask them provide you with a copy or a reference to new science, pertinent to mask use among the general public indoors and, especially, outdoors. Right now, it doesn't exist.

Are We Correctly Assessing the Risk? Perhaps not.
In the middle of a medical crisis, we are closing hospitals.
Kansas City Star, June 30
How many will die from heart attacks, strokes or traffic accidents because COVID closed their local hospitals?

For more: Please read my essay below. It contains a great deal of carefully-researched info.


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