Science is based on doubt, not certainty.
We are all baffled and frustrated at the mixed messages sent and received regarding Covid-19 on a daily basis. Do masks really reduce the spread of the disease? Does a particular drug work to treat seriously ill patients? Is it safe to re-open schools this fall?
This confusing back and forth boils down to a simple fact: science is fueled by doubt rather than certainty. Scientific facts are subject to change, and initial assumptions can be modified or completely reversed based on new data that emerges over time.
With Covid-19, time—and really, our own impatience— is not on the side of science. The American public wants answers yesterday and a return to normal tomorrow. Yet, as Canadian chemistry professor Mark Lautens points out, “nature does not give up its secrets easily,” and there are likely to be many more facts revealed about the virus and how we can learn to live with it before this crisis is over.
We must also keep an eye focused on the future issues that will emerge from treatment and recovery. As previous experience proves, some of the science surrounding the virus will make its way into the legal system as plaintiffs and defendants battle over liability issues and monetary awards. We must not let these fears impede on scientific progress.
We know the steps we must take to conquer the coronavirus, and we can already see future hurdles on the horizon. Sufficient experimentation and testing stand in the way. We must ensure that the science is able to rise above our frustration.
It is imperative that any evidence used is fully and fairly analyzed by objective and non-biased experts before judges and juries are asked to make decisions on complex and critically important matters. The Center for Truth in Science addresses issues where science and litigation intersect, and as the next phases of response and reaction to Covid-19 play out, the Center will continue to monitor new developments and shine a light on the need for truth to win out over convenience.