I don’t know whether hydroxychloroquine works. I managed to write about the drug without naming it in New Drugs for COVID and Double-Blind Testing, Part 1 and Part 2.
Not a lot in the CNN article is objectively wrong. The French study is shoddy. But long on opinion and short on facts, the article raises the question: Can the public be made to understand anything, or, as Walter Lippmann claimed, must public opinion remain under the wise care of the elite? I don’t know the answer to that either. But every article is an individual choice of these proportions: influence, as in “trust the experts”, and information. Could the popularity of anti-vaxer sentiment be an allergic reaction to an excess of influence, and a shortage of information?
The article pits “professional opinion of respected experts” [quotes mine, for effect] against a pol. With this focus, the article omits the self-knowledge of the experts about their expertise, their differences of opinion, and opportunities for innovation. This laser sharp experts-versus-Trump focus squeezes out every possible procedural innovation in drug studies. That’s why I quoted “professional opinion…” And so,
- Author Cohen homogenized a subject which has both a core and a frontier, agreement and diversity. There is no mention of any difference of opinion, on how to conduct studies, within the medical community. Is this a possible state of affairs?
- Possibly due to Cohen’s choice of “Boiled down to the essentials” she omits the meaning of “double blind”. Too complicated for the hoi-polloi? Let’s say it here: It means nobody knows who’s getting the real drug.
- The efficacy of the drug is cast as a political question. As right or wrong as Trump may be, it is not, unless you (literally) want to argue politics with your last dying breath.
The article implies that in a duel between Trump and the experts, on whether the drug ultimately works, Trump is a bad bet. It depends upon how you like 50/50, or maybe 60/40. The complicated truth is:
- Trump could be right, for the wrong reasons.
- The experts could be wrong, for the right reasons.
- It’s difficult for the press to make sense of in the editorial tradition of taking sides.
Hydroxychloroquine has activity against COVID-19 in the dish. It is a dangerous drug:
- The therapeutic index, the range of the effective dosage, at least for the malaria parasite, is narrow.
- Multi-system toxicity.
- It is a cardiac antiarrhythmic agent, which, like most such drugs, can cause cardiac arrest when used with the wrong patient in the wrong dose, which may conflict with the dose for COVID-19.
The CNN article addresses this well, a small departure from influence with an insert of actual information.
Warning, before you scroll down. Three words are used that may offend some readers. One word has 3 letters, while two have 5. These words will be not be used in the context of any person, company, or politics. They are essential to discussion of the Scientific Method.
The CNN article lives outside the Scientific Method. We’re going to tunnel inside it, with these words:
Lie, Cheat, Steal
Already, I’m wondering if the above words are too abstruse or offensive for the person in the street. If you’re hesitant about this vile exposure, it might be better to change the channel:
To be continued shortly.