Who is a better COVID scientist, Trump or Fauci?

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Science denialists don’t understand science.

It’s not that they are ignorant of scientific facts although they are. The real problem is that they don’t understand the scientific method.

This is the scientific method (adapted from All In One High School):

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It involves making an observation, offering a hypothesis, conducting an experiment, collecting and analyzing data and communicating the findings.

In the case of COVID-19, both scientists and denialists observed the emergence of a new viral illness, but they diverged on the hypotheses that they advanced.

Real scientists revise their claims based on the outcome of their predictions but blowhards and fools do not.

Scientists, led by Tony Fauci hypothesized that COVID cases and deaths would initially increase dramatically, taper off during the summer months and then return even more dramatically in the fall.

Denialists, led by Donald Trump hypothesized that the number of COVID cases would be small, and that COVID would dwindle and disappear.

Both conducted the same “experiment,” simply waiting to see what would happen.

Tony Fauci’s hypothesis was borne out by what actually happened — multiple, ever growing waves of COVID cases and deaths.

Trump got the exact same data that Fauci got. The data showed Trump’s hypothesis was repeatedly proven to be false. COVID cases didn’t dwindle and they didn’t disappear.

Up to that point, both Fauci and Trump had stuck to the scientific method. They made the same observation, advanced hypotheses and collected and analyzed the exact same data.

It’s what they did next that made the difference. Fauci’s predictions were affirmed when case and death rates grew as predicted. He communicated those findings.

In contrast, Trump’s hypothesis was NOT confirmed by what happened. Indeed the dramatically rising number of COVID cases and deaths are the exact OPPOSITE of what he predicted. If he were following the principles of the scientific method, Trump would be forced to revise his hypothesis. Instead he doubled down.

Why don’t COVID denialists see this? They can’t see it because they don’t understand the scientific method.

This is the denialist version of the scientific method:

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Denialists suppose that science involves exploring random claims and deciding whom to believe based on emotion (intuition). That’s why they actually think they’re “educating” themselves by reading random Facebook pages and watching random YouTube videos. They really think they are doing their “research.” They imagine science is merely adjudicating between the claims of experts and those who disagree with them.

They have fallen prey to the logical fallacy, ‘argument from authority.’ They assume that science proceeds by determining which authorities to follow. They imagine they are “empowered” by adopting appealing claims from alternative “authorities” (quacks and charlatans) and not following the “sheeple” who simply believe acknowledged experts.

That’s why they drop into The Skeptical OB Facebook page to “educate” the rest of us by sharing outdated and incorrect citations. That’s why they offer links to other Facebook pages and YouTube videos. If science were really a beauty contest between competing claims those links might be persuasive. But science is NOT a contest of competing authorities. It is predicated on making predictions and then seeing what happens.

It isn’t a matter of whether you like Tony Fauci more or Donald Trump more. It isn’t a matter of whether you are find Tony Fauci’s claims more appealing than Donald Trump’s claims. The key to determining who is a better COVID scientist is how their PREDICTIONS hold up in the face of actual data. Tony Fauci’s predictions came true. Donald Trump’s did not. But that’s not what makes Fauci a far better scientist than Trump. It’s that real scientists revise their claims based on the outcome of their predictions but blowhards and fools do not.

  • J. R.

    Completely false dichotomy. Neither are good. Trump isn’t a scientist at all. Fauci is politically and fame motivated and moves the goalposts constantly. He also says things that are scientifically incorrect often and conflict with things other scientists AND other scientific organizations say. That would be a better comparison.

  • fiftyfifty1

    Another mark of a science denialist is that they will take any portion of another person’s hypothesis that turned out to be wrong and use it as “proof” to discredit the other person. For example, at first Fauci did not think that masks were likely to be a key technique for reducing spread. But later, masks proved more effective than predicted, so Fauci changed his recommendations. This is an example of the scientific method working, not a reason to discredit Fauci.

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    • J. R.

      Masks just don’t work. There is little to no evidence they do work. Cite papers showing evidence they do work.