Our View | Is ‘Science’ Being Manipulated?

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By The Signal Editorial Board

Follow the science. That’s the refrain. All the state and regional governments’ cries about what to do regarding COVID-19 focus on it. 

“We have to follow the science!”

If you are at all conscious, you have heard this many times over the past six months.

Let’s first state the obvious here: We’re not scientists.

We do, however, believe, like most people, that you do in fact need to follow the science.

At least, to a point. 

Everything in life involves trade-offs and risks.

If we completely “followed the science” we wouldn’t put out a newspaper six days a week.

We wouldn’t be at work, because we wouldn’t be driving to work or any other place. We’d lock ourselves in our homes and never emerge, because the science says 38,000 people per year die in automobile crashes so therefore driving a car has inherent risks. If you want to completely avoid that risk, you don’t get in a car, you don’t drive to work and you eliminate your chance of being an automobile fatality.

So, we choose to say to ourselves, “Yes there is a risk of driving, and of going to work, but I choose to accept that risk and drive anyway, and to do so as responsibly as possible, thus minimizing the risk.”

If we followed the science we would never vacation or travel anywhere. More than 500 people died in commercial aircraft crashes in 2018 but when we travel we accept that risk.

For that matter, why live in California? The science says a huge earthquake is coming — a deadly quake — but we stay here anyway, taking the chance against science that it won’t affect us.

Every day, we all make choices between science and risks and how we live our lives.

This week, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that K-12 schools in the county will not open until after the November election. 

She said this not once but twice on an audio tape obtained by a reporter with Los Angeles radio station KFI. Ferrer was talking with “a collection of school nurses, school administrators, other education and medical professionals.”

During that discussion, Ferrer said she does not expect schools to reopen before the November election.

“We don’t realistically anticipate that we would be moving to either Tier 2 or to reopening K-12 schools at least until after the election,” Ferrer said. “When we look at the timing of everything, it seems to us a more realistic approach to this would be to think that we’re going to be where we are now until we are done with the election.”

Wait!

What was that, the election?

Is that the science? Where does that come from, science and the election?

It’s interesting how Ferrer mentioned Election Day not just once, but twice.

Not 60 days, not in a couple of months, not even November, but Election Day.

So, the county’s top health officials are tying COVID-19 to the election. We thought we were following the science?

Even though we know the science tells us the chances of children becoming deadly ill from the virus is minuscule, where does the science say it will be safer after Election Day than it is now — or on any other date — to send the kids back to school? What makes Nov. 3 such a magic date to the public health director, and why is it on the top of her mind in the first place?

Why does the public health director even use phrases like “after WE are done with the election”? (Emphasis added.) Is the Public Health Department somehow involved in the election in some way that literally no one, anywhere, was aware of?

Or is a certain political perspective simply that dominant in the L.A. County Hall of Administration, to the point where taxpayer-paid staff are managing public crises with partisan goals in mind? 

Are we manipulating the science to affect the outcome of the election? Could we be overplaying the risks of the coronavirus? Could we all be back at work now and reopen businesses if we took proper precautions and socially distanced, managing the risks?

Are the risks being exaggerated to make people miserable and cause emotional stress to try to change the outcome of an election?

Hmm…

Looks like we will all find out soon enough. 

You know. After the election.

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