That was well over a decade ago, and it’s nice to see her ability to communicate science has gained her a growing number of interviews over the years. I never interviewed her because she doesn’t really have anything to do with business. But she’s become well known recently due to her explanations about Covid-19.
So, what am I supposed to make of this article?:
“Here in New Zealand videos spreading conspiracy theories about the source of the pandemic have even resulted in the destruction of crucial infrastructure. It’s time media giants like YouTube stopped being complicit in this.”The best criticism of a scientist's opinion on public policy is this: Your opinion on the subject is irrelevant. Because it is. If you're a scientist with a policy idea, put it in a paper and submit to a peer-reviewed journal. Oh, but see, she isn’t really a scientist, not anymore. Now she’s become a “science expert.” The expert is a media creation meant to deliver a truth to an audience from the perspective of a particular field. But in practice, the expert functions to deprive the audience of the opportunity to disagree with the opinion the media outlet is presenting as fact. The expert says this is what the truth is, who are you to disagree with science? Do you see the trick?
Once someone is designated by the media as an expert in one area, they automatically become an expert everywhere. Likewise, Richard Dawkins is a biologist, but the media made him a “science expert” and from there it was a quick hop to getting him to talk about the non-existence of God on television.
The question you should be asking is if experts are a creation of television media, why do we still have them on the internet? You can email a question to any PhD professor in the world – hell, you can even email them all at once – and probably get a sober answer. But it won’t feel right to you, because it isn’t coming from an expert. A TV expert. There is a dangerous trend at work here: the status conferred on the TV expert has worked its way over to the internet, which was supposed to be decentralised, crowd-sourced, diverse and open.
This is happening because the ability for people to use their judgement was suppressed by TV through the deployment of "experts" and has atrophied from decades of disuse. Now that we have a technology that gives us the opportunity to voice strong, thoughtful, insightful judgments on our own to the broader public, we can’t. We don’t know how to perform a rigorous and critical analysis without involving our visceral emotions. And we don’t know how to hold others to that standard when they present their conclusions to us. We’ve lost the ability to judge, to discern, to evaluate. So we turn to proxies to do it for us. Sound familiar?
I’ve written about this before, but you can sense a power shift has been occurring from religion to science, using the same tactics of word manipulation that religion uses, and which should never be involved with science. For instance, why did physicists call the Higgs-Boson the "God Particle"? That's the stupidest lay term in the history of science. The particle has nothing to do with God or any of the characteristics usually ascribed to God.
A better title would have been "The Goldilocks Structure" because it does not imply a designer. "Goldilocks" is a metaphor for "just right." The original story isn't that someone made her some porridge that was just right, the story is that she found one that was just right. We should be using the term that properly conveys the truth and then let the idiots argue with the truth. If you play language games with the truth then your opposition can argue with you as a person, and that's an argument they might actually win. But "Goldilocks Structure" doesn’t sell books. And more importantly, it doesn't elevate the science experts, like Siouxsie and Richard, to some greater position of authority. There is something else going on here.
The purpose of language manipulation and the creation of anointed experts is to replace the authority of religious figures with the authority of physicists and great scientists. It is not about replacing religion with science – science has absolutely nothing to say about the moral or ethical questions at that heart of religion.
This trend is about shifting power from religion to science. It isn't merely that people are spreading misinformation about epidemiology, it's also that the science behind this theory is so complex and esoteric that only truly advanced microbiologists can understand it. The rest of us, who don't understand the maths or the science, who haven't studied the data, must simply accept their word for it. We need people like Siouxsie to interpret the science for us. Again, sound familiar?
We believe scientists are smart enough to understand these issues so we believe they are correct. Even if we listen to them, we are taking the "leap of faith" that the maths behind the predictions works out the way their statements imply. We have no way of knowing for ourselves unless we suddenly embark on a multi-decade immersion into mathematics, epidemiology and microbiology theory. It doesn't matter that Siouxsie, in fact, may actually be superbly smart and correct. What matters is that for us, we believe what she says is true, but we don't know it is true.
For years, scientists have wrapped their science in the language of divinity to steal the authority that divinity still conveys in society. An individual scientist should have absolutely no authority. Science is about the theory, not the person who invented the theory. But once we decide to listen to a scientist like Siouxsie and not others about issues beyond the narrow scope of her work, we are making a political choice, not a scientific one. Anybody who says “just listen to the experts” is really telling you to listen to “their” experts. Because the second you start listening to “experts” who disagree with their experts, they say you are listening to the wrong experts.
What happens when science gets to the truth that runs contrary to common sense? Science's job is done at that point. It is the role of science to say "Guess what? It turns out driving cars is destroying the environment" (or whatever, you get my point). But that statement is made by a scientist acting in the role as a scientist. It is absolutely not the role of science to say "Drive less." That is what people do.
And that is my point. Scientists are trying to extend their authority outside of science into other spheres. I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, as long as other voices are heard too.