by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Charles Cooke of National Review Online explains why Dr. Anthony Fauci has the wrong idea about science’s role in the public process.
Dr. Fauci says that the FDA’s decision to pause deployment of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the right one because “we are ruled by the science and not any other consideration.”
This is nonsense. Indeed, it’s almost self-parodic nonsense. The “science” tells us that, as far as we know, six people out of the seven million who have taken the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have developed blood clots. It does not tell us what to do about this. There is no “scientific” answer to that question. It’s a matter of judgment, of tradeoffs, of consideration. One might as well say that one has come to the correct scientific conclusion as to what the speed limit should be. There is no such thing.
People are still dying from COVID. Schools are still closed because of COVID. Civil society is still restricted because of COVID. What level of risk is acceptable from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and how does it compare to the risks that will flow from pausing its deployment or to the risk to public confidence that such a pause would guarantee? In examining this question, different people will come to different conclusions. But one thing is for sure: Dr. Anthony Fauci does not have the only answer, and he does not have a “scientific” answer, either. The scientific part of this equation lies in the data under consideration. What we do with it? That’s something else.
The mistake Fauci is making here is one that is endemic within American progressivism, whose most vehement adherents seem genuinely to believe that we are divided politically because we are looking at different facts rather than drawing different conclusions from those facts. This isn’t true — at least, it’s not the primary cause of our divisions.