Monday, August 24, 2020

When is Lying Justified? How Scientists Pragmatically Flunk Ethics 101

When is Lying Justified?  How Scientists Pragmatically Flunk Ethics 101

So when exactly IS lying justified. How have scientists pragmatically flunked Ethics 101 - or have they?  Perhaps the question should be, "Can pragmatism ever ethically justify lying?"  Does the ends justify the means, even if the means, itself, is illegal, unethical or dishonest?

Some scientists believe so.

climate change

It was back in 1989 that founder of Climatic Change journal and one of the founding members if the IPPC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told Discover magazine that such pragmatism was necessary  to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change.

He said, "we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both."  

In other words, "because the majority is too stupid to be able to use reason and logic when we tell them the truth, we have to exaggerate and lie to them in order to protect them from themselves."  This has been a major problem with a large swath of the population in relation to air pollution, but those who take this course don't seem to be learning from its failure.

Pragmatism and Pandemics

This kind of dishonest pragmatism is becoming has now become a major problem in this present pandemic we find ourselves in.

Using the same kind of pragmatism, spokespeople for the scientific world, medicine and politicians have continually changed their story, to the point where many are now refusing to believe anything they are being told.

We were told about a novel virus discovered in China.  Some of us, myself included, took interest and discovered it looked like it could be pretty scary.  Back then, we told people that they should stock up (not hoard) on N95 masks and supplies, just to be prepared.

But the WHO and our scientists told us the virus did not transmit from human to human and there was nothing to worry about.

Then word came out that it DOES transmit human to human and we said, again, that everyone should make sure they have a reasonable supply of masks ahead of any possible spread.  

But again, we were told that it wasn't very contagious and was contained in China.

Facts vs Script

Then cases began to show up around the world and numbers began to increase more rapidly.  A cruise ship was reported to have been put in quarantine as the virus spread on board.  We reminded people to be prepared for emergency, including having a reasonable supply of masks.

Hazmat suit

But then our top scientists told us that masks would not help and that the only way to prevent the spread was to "social distance" and wash our hands.  Travel was severely restricted.  

We asked how it made any sense to say that masks would not help.  If they would not, why were the people on the front lines wearing full hazmat suits?  Some of us began to suspect that something was up.

That's when reports began to come out of China having bought up container loads of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) well in advance of the world finding out about the seriousness of this novel virus.  

Our suspicions began to be confirmed.  Our western governments had failed to ensure an adequate supply of PPE in case of an emergency, and there simply wasn't a large enough supply for front line workers AND the rest of us.  So they lied to us, telling us that masks don't do any good.

Those of us who take an interest in what's going on in other places in the world were just stunned.  We could see that in countries where mask wearing is common, even though the population density is much higher, the rate of infection was much, much lower than in the West.

Reason and Logic

It only makes sense.  If you wear a mask, you can't cough or spit on me when you talk; if I wear a mask, I can't cough or spit on your when I talk.  It doesn't even take N95 masks (the kind that most viruses can't pass through) for masks to be very effective in stopping the spread.

But we were told continuously by the "top scientists," including those in the WHO, that mask wearing did not help.  But for some reason, mask production was ramped WAY up.

And of course, now we are being told to wear masks everywhere!  There are places you simply can't go without wearing a mask.  And in some jurisdictions, mask wearing is now mandated by law.

The Fallout

But now there is a real problem.  A lot of people are refusing to wear a mask or follow any of the protocols being put in place.  They refuse to believe anything they are being told by the mainstream scientific community.  As a result, there is a real risk of this getting out of control.

Wear Mask

All this could have been avoided if the scientists had told us the truth from the beginning.  We aren't all children.  We should not be treated as such.  We should be treated as adults (those of us who are) and be told the truth so we can make informed decisions based on facts.

Lying to us to "protect us" has away of being discovered. It then kills any confidence many have in those who are supposed to be a source of fact.

It's easier to remember and tell the truth and take your lumps, than it is to tell a lie that needs to be remembered and constantly shored up with other lies.

Bottom Line

People should be wearing a mask when around groups of other people, apart from those who are part of their existing "bubble."  

It's not to so much to protect themselves from others, but to protect others.  People say they don't need to wear a mask to protect others because they are not sick, but facts prove this is not always the case.  Many walk around with the virus not even knowing they have it, all the while spreading it.

If it starts spreading too fast in a vulnerable community, it could easily overwhelm the medical system.  We already know that.  Recent history around the world confirms that.

So, in spite of all the confusing signals coming from the "experts," who seem to be having a real struggle with "just the truth," just wear a mask.  Okay?  For the sake of those around you.

Comments are welcome!


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