Science Has Failed US/Us, and What It Must Do While We Wait to Be Vaccinated
Now don’t get your mask all bunched up, I’m not a denier. I’m a science grad, scientist-artist at heart, and work for a science publisher because I love science. But just as so many other ‘systems’ seem to have shown themselves to be hollowed-out vestiges of what we thought they were, the totality of our scientific force has somehow shown itself to be essentially powerless at the hands of our wannabe dictators, William Barr, the Senate Republicans, and the Little One.
First the good news: even the three-headed idiot couldn’t stop science from apparently creating a vaccine. Only time will tell, but it looks like it will be one of the greatest feathers ever in science’s cap. But how can that be a surprise when knowledge has been doubling with increasing rapidity, we’ve decoded the micromiracles of life’s chemistry, and our technology conquers new methods every day. Bravo to the heroes of science.
Now for the bad news:
- The public doesn’t know the overall percentage of people walking by on the street who have the virus. I think it’s called the seroprevalence. This is not the ‘test’ positivity but the ‘population’ positivity. Science must get it posted in public every day in every medium in everyone’s face… not hidden on the John’s Hopkins website. When we make a trip to the food market we must see this sign 10 times.
- Millions of people have flown on airplanes but we still have virtually no idea what the actual infection experience is since March of 2020. Why not. The airlines are incredibly, massively complicit — not to mention self-destructively idiotic — in not demonstrating their statistics but what can you expect from an industry that measures customer satisfaction in the number of people it doesn’t beat up and drag out of their place of business? Let’s start with flight attendants alone: even without a single scientist, statistician, or clinical trial investigator, the airlines could prove how safe it has been since March. But let’s go further: every flying customer is identifiable by multiple contact methods. (You could sooner hide from the Russian hackers than the airlines, and that’s a bold claim.) What if they called their prior flyers and determined the positivity? Right now, you’re probably coming up with all the objections to why this can’t work. That’s why you don’t own an airline or run a clinical trial. They could hand out discount cards when you leave a plane to scan a QR code and complete a survey two weeks later. They could use science to estimate lying behavior.
- After 10 months, we’re somehow smart enough to have everyone eat outside, yet we can barely make the connection that installing vigorous cross-ventilation in restaurants — yes it would be less comfortable — would reduce the risk to nearly zero and maybe save our economy. We’re already seeing restaurants come up with increasingly confining outdoor tents and pods; are we so stupid that they will eventually be as ‘comfortable’ as enclosed dining rooms? Almost. Science must announce that restaurants can operate at moderate capacity if the air is noticeably moving with the simple observation of watching, for instance, cigarette smoke.
- The Metropolitan Transportation Authority — the New York subways — has said that their subway cars refresh the air 18 times per hour. Airplanes apparently do so 5 times per hour since the days of the last viral, airborne pandemic, SARS or MERS or H1N1… whatever it was. Do you know how many times per hour your food market does? Or your Uber/Lyft car? Or your house when someone visits? Hell no, you don’t. Science must create a standard format for the air turnover measurement of any place of gathering, whether business or public. I suggest calling it ATR for Air Turnover Rate, and it should be an absolute number, not a percentage or arbitrary scale (such as A-E or stars, or some such dumbed down bullshit). The MTA subway cars would have huge letters ATR 18. Airplanes ATR 4. Your neighborhood bar ATR 2. Have another drink, what’s to worry?
- You know all those roadside billboards that are now fully electronic, the ones that are prohibited from having much animation so that people don’t get distracted? They must run ongoing, live feeds from the closes hospital Covid unit — yes, HIPPA must be countermanded in this case by emergency order — and superimposed by the words: Local Hospital Bed Load: 85%. The virus doesn’t need propaganda; it is a genius with about a billion years of engineering behind its miraculous marketing plan. We must use propaganda.
- Millions of deniers or invincibles, or just plain normal people willing to take a measured risk, have been eating at crowded restaurants in various parts of the country irrespective of warnings. OK. But at least let’s use their willingness to capture data. Set up trucks outside the Cracker Barrel offering to contact trace people for an honorarium (that means payment, I think). One free deep-fried-bacon-wrapped-cheese-stuffed-beer-batter-breaded-jalepeno pepper in exchange for filling out an online survey two weeks later. See, teach people that science can be fun and healthy at the same time.
- Newspapers must be scientists too. Publish the results — aggregated results, not ‘stories’ — in a never-ending dashboard on page two of every newspaper.