The weaponization of scientific institutions hurt people in the 21st century.

Below is a Twitter thread from Alex Washburne PhD. This is an excerpt from his website: 

Competition, Innovation, and Evolution.

Stochastic processes, mathematical biology, evolutionary theory (especially the levels of selection problem), community assembly, co-evolution and the evolution of virulence. My favorite study systems are the microbial jungles of the human microbiome, the investment jungles of human financial markets, and the linguistic jungles of social media.

Twitter thread

As someone registered Democrat 9 months before I was born and a lifelong scientist, son of a scientist mom…  I’ve seen scientists oversimplifying and demonizing competing views. This culture of unscientific hostility started at the top, the heads of top fed funding institutions.

COVID has radically altered my view of academic science. The institution I was practically born into and believed worth saving now seems irrevocably compromised.  The heads of health science funding suppressed research to support policies that caused 20 million people to starve.

This propaganda campaign – and it is exactly that – deliberately constructed the misinfo oversimplifications Dr J Bhattacharya is pointing out.  “Let ‘er rip”, “eugenics”, “sacrificing grandma for the economy” – these slogans are unscientific straw men that scientists engineered.

That these slogans were deliberately designed as a “devastating take-down” of competing scientific worldviews, and that these takedowns were enabled by the unique power held by heads of federal funding institutions, undermined science and our federal funding institutions.

Simply put:  

The pandemic burden was overestimated. People like me with more accurate estimates of burden were ostracized in the field by slogans engineered at NIH, NIAID, and CDC.  Overestimates of burden, duration came from folk consulting PFE/MRNA

Our federal institutions, our national mainstream media, credentialism and the richest private universities’ names were all weaponized towards anticompetitive scientific practices that undermined and implicates science, scientists, and our entire academic + media ecosystem.

The most discouraging thing, to me, is that by simply finding the inconvenient truth that pandemic burden is lower, and by trying to share my work, I burnt my academic bridges and left American academic science. Where would I go for funding? Fauci’s NIAID? Walensky’s CDC?

Scientists’ collective failure to tame their online mob mentality, their failure to protect young scientists & open-mindedly consider competing views, damns our entire public scientific enterprise.  

I’m now unconvinced these institutions are capable of internal reform.

I see these institutions as unlikely to reform because scientists with undeserved power leading them stifle competition.  Unelected heads of agencies underserved our democratic deliberations by killing scientific debate with hostile slogans, a false-consensus, and abuse of power.

I quit academic science *because* of the politics of COVID, the culture of hostility, that started at the top brass of US medical funding agencies who overstepped their authority, powerful professors who overexploited their fame to monopolize public deliberations, and more.

These folk engineered a propaganda campaign and suppression of dissent in the service of policies that are documented to have caused unprecedented global collateral damage & displacement of harm from the old + rich to the young + poor.

Unelected bureaucrats stifled science with a culture of hostility, manufactured belief in a false-consensus, fanned the flames of fear, and undermined American deliberative processes of the legislative branch.  As a consequence, 20 million poor people in Africa + Asia starved.

100 million kids were thrown into multidimensional poverty. Tens of millions of kids are missing from schools. Child mental health is in crisis, deaths of despair rose. Test scores showed the largest & most inequitable drop in the history of test scores.

This collateral damage might be more tolerable were it the result of fair competition of ideas and a faithful, unbiased presentation of science.  But the competition was unfair, the presentation of science was biased & unfaithful, and the collateral damage is thus unacceptable.

These people starved, these kids are in poverty, my own friends commit suicide, and an entire world of victims of our pandemic policies suffered at the hands of federal science officials who abused their power, their fame, their authority, their credentials.

People died as a result of policies that were conceived by an illegitimate deliberative process, a process misled by the scientists whose job was to fund science and possibly serve as unbiased consultants.  The poor coverage of the collateral damage further serves those in power.

I’m not outraged, I’m heartbroken. I lost my career in academia, my letters of recommendation, and my entire vision of how my life would unfold as a professor. I lost all that because I kept an open mind & discovered an inconvenient truth that undermined the false consensus.

But ultimately, it’s not about me. It’s about science and its ability to inform policy. It’s about the millions worldwide hungry, impoverished, deprived of education, depressed or suicidal, and more.  The weaponization of scientific institutions hurt people in the 21st century.

Related – watch Alan Savory, ecologist explain The Destruction of Science


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