I Believe in Science

In the lab

Recently, I have been very vocal about why I believe in science over political rhetoric. Some of you have questioned what I mean by “science.” When I say, “I believe in science,” I mean the scientific method, which, if you remember from middle school science class, is a statistically-controlled process (question, research, hypothesize, experiment, analyze, conclude, report) used to explore observations and answer questions.

Here are some observations: Coronavirus is extremely contagious. (This has been tested beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are exposed, you are likely to become infected.) You can be infected and be asymptomatic. You can be infected and become so seriously ill that you will die. People who are asymptomatic can infect others who will not fare as well. (There are many other observations; you can get the list from any number of sources: CDC, WHO, or your local health authorities.)

What you do with these observations is up to you. To apply the scientific method, you start with a question, such as, “How can we prevent coronavirus from causing a person to die?” This is followed by background research. Then, a hypothesis is formulated, such as, “If I administer this drug, the person has a better chance of survival.” An experiment is designed to test the hypothesis. The results are analyzed. A conclusion is drawn, and the results are reported. Then — and this is the important part — other scientists replicate your experiment, get similar results, and confirm your hypothesis and conclusions.

All of this requires solid data, good information, and a significant amount of intellectual honesty and discipline. I believe in the scientific method. But it is far less useful when there is not enough data to analyze.

At the moment, the only things we know for sure are that coronavirus is extremely contagious and there is no cure. If the virus causes you to become gravely ill, there are treatments that may give you a better chance of survival, but not much else.

Science suggests that the best way to survive the pandemic is to delay getting coronavirus for as long as possible. This will give the healthcare community time to establish protocols that may produce better outcomes until (if ever) a cure or vaccine is found. To deny this is to replace the best scientific theory with a folk tale. Don’t. Folk tales may be emotionally satisfying, but in this case, an unscientific narrative is guaranteed to be worse for everyone you love (and everyone else too).

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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