My heart is on the side of the experts; see Why I Support Dr. Anthony Fauci. At the beginning of the COVID epidemic, almost everyone, expert or ignorant, were mostly wrong about the future. But the experts learned and applied new knowledge, while the ignorant continued to be ignorant. Epidemiologists apply the scientific method. Politicians do not.
But epidemiology has weak predictive powers. New plagues do not replicate old ones that have been studied. Mathematics, which works so well with the hard sciences, has not been successful in predicting the trajectory of COVID. To predict, you have to model. To model, you have to know the system. The system by which COVID-19 propagates is too complex to model.
A partial transcript of the CNN video, from The Hill:
“When I say ‘experts’ in air-quotes, it sounds like I don’t really trust the experts, because I don’t,” Cuomo said in a press briefing Friday.
Cuomo said this in preface to,
“The experts say that the trend for New York should continue to drop. That’s what the experts say…”
Skepticism was Cuomo’s qualifier, since like many of us, he is skeptical of trend predictions that do not take into account the likely effect of the new, more contagious strains. Which language is more broken:
- Cuomo’s ironic observation, which has basis in fact?
- A statistical product that is less informative than the number of sardines per cubic foot of seawater?
This is what happens when epidemiology, a science with weak powers of prediction, is pushed by popular demand to make unreliable predictions, and then skewered by politicians who are forced to make use of the product.
Affronted, the experts quit, because they understood
“When I say ‘experts’ in air-quotes, it sounds like I don’t really trust the experts, because I don’t.”
to mean “The experts are unworthy of public trust, or their guidance should be disregarded”, or “I don’t appreciate you or your job.”
Negative sentiments are appropriate towards Scott Atlas ((CNN) Dr. Scott Atlas Resigns from Corona Virus Task Force), but not for Cuomo’s experts. People like to be appreciated when they deserve it. There is a flaw in the system. Cuomo received a projection that requires a qualifier, preferably supplied by the experts themselves: The propagation of mutant strains makes the projection worthless.
Being smarter than the average bear, Cuomo recognized this. With the impatience of superior intellect, he made this known. His only mistake was not lying. All politicians should be fluent at lying, which can only be acquired with gratuitous practice.
My other favorite quote of Andrew Cuomo is (paraphrased), “America…was never that great” (CNN) Gov. Cuomo: America was never that great. Tell it like it is, Andrew.
Governor Cuomo, you win the Fortune Cookie Honest Man Award.