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Merit Above All

Jack Schell

Posted on August 21, 2021 20:36

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In an increasingly short-tempered world, most people, even those considered to be a “voice of reason,” have frequently resorted to obsessing over the credentials and titles of those disseminating information, rather than evaluating their arguments critically based on merit.

In many parts of the country, including where I live in California, mask mandates (at least for indoor spaces) have been re-imposed. I have recently been doing research on the necessity of the mandates for my area based on vaccination rates, hospitalization rates and other factors.

This article is not about the mask mandates, so I won’t discuss my findings or opinions on that subject in this piece, but I will say that I have been having discussions with people surrounding the need for a mask mandate in our area. Invariably, they all agree they should be in place. I then usually proceed to ask them about why they hold that opinion and ask investigative questions (I am a journalist, after all), but they always stop me very quickly. Just as I begin the conversation, they inform me that there is no need to have it. After all, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the NIAID, or [insert other medical professional here] has said they are necessary, therefore they are.

Now, this article is not meant to question the credibility of Dr. Fauci or any other respectable medical officials, as I of course believe that they are eminently qualified to lead in public health matters. Rather, this article examines the nature of argumentation in the modern political realm. When the people I discuss these issues with stop our conversation short, they say it is because Dr. Fauci or another medical professional has already found these mandates or other measures to be necessary, so no further discussion is needed. But is this how we should debate issues in society?

I have no doubt in the credibility of Dr. Fauci or other medical professionals, but why can’t we examine their opinion based on its actual merit, instead of relying so much (or at all) on the title they hold? I know a common response to this is that the evidence would be just too difficult for us non-immunologists to understand, but is this always the case? I’m sure this is true for certain pieces of data, but I and all my fellow Americans are perfectly capable of understanding the changes in hospitalizations or deaths from COVID-19 within the past 14 days or looking at how much cases have increased in certain areas over other periods of time.

If the merit of our public health officials arguments are so strong (which they very likely are), then the everyday Americans who are proponents of them should be able to defend them based on the facts and statistics (merit) instead of instantly shielding themselves with “But [reliable person] said it, so it must be true!” They are perfectly capable of communicating the evidence and facts behind these policies which they support, so they should be asked to do so. Remember, when people say “But the science says so,” Dr. Fauci, nor any other official, no matter how reputable, is not the science, the science is the science.

Jack Schell

Posted on August 21, 2021 20:36

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Source: WTAE

The biggest reason behind the closure: COVID-19.

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