Following “The Science” Leads to Bad Decisions
As COVID-19 migrates from pandemic to endemic, our experience with the virus shows that following “the Science” leads to bad decisions.
“I’m not getting the vaccine,” a rando revealed to me on Thursday outside a Las Vegas hotel, “The Science says that too many people die from it.”
As COVID migrates from pandemic to endemic, our experience with the virus shows that following “the Science” leads to bad decisions. “The Science” differs from science, which is a discipline focused on accurate understanding. “The Science” interprets data that meets a particular worldview. It’s a religion.
At one time, “The Science” insisted that the earth was the center of the universe. Celestial prediction, however, remained elusive, so “scientists” (usually clerics) invented epicycles to explain variance. Still, the geocentric view never quite worked. Galileo showed that placing the sun at the center with the earth in orbit solved problems. In today’s vernacular, Galileo was canceled by the elect.
The COVID experience was more problematic because leaders without chests in government and business outsourced decision-making to narrow-minded experts who prioritized stopping the virus — a fantasy — to the exclusion of other considerations. Leaders celebrated the experts who provided assessments that conformed to their worldview and dismissed disconfirming studies. Education for the poorest children, health care, mental health, personal and social well-being, trust in leaders and fellow citizens, and many other common goods, suffered.
The New York Times shows that vaccine skepticism is widespread in America and correlates strongly with political polarization.
If you are vaccinated and boosted, your chances of dying from COVID are about one in a million, which is ten times less than being vaporized by lightning. Like my serial interrupter in Las Vegas, vaccine skeptics on the right are more afraid of being killed by the vaccine (about 1 in 30 million) than the virus. They are the ones filling hospital beds and unnecessarily overloading the healthcare system.
Nearly fifty percent of vaccinated Democrats under age fifty, meanwhile, fear that they will get very or somewhat ill from COVID, as compared to twenty-six percent of vaccinated Republicans in the same age group. Overall, 41 percent of vaccinated Democrats believe that they will get seriously ill from COVID even though the probability is infinitesimal. Many of them stay locked in their homes, obsessing over worry-porn, living in fear that everyone around them is a virus-wielding killer, and looking at you with finger-wagging scorn when you are outside without a mask. 100 times more vaccinated and boosted people will die from electrocution (1 in 13,394) and sharp objects (1 in 29,334) — probably in the safety of their homes.
President Harry Truman famously said that the buck stops here. He was the one responsible for weighing risks and opportunities and doing what he thought was best for the country. Leaders like Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and Eisenhower were famous for insisting on hearing alternative views before making decisions. This practice helped them avoid getting trapped in echo chambers that self-serving lieutenants tend to create.
What has become “The Science” in your business? What’s your process to make objective assessments and avoid inhaling your own gas?
Building your Chest
The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations that move you from competitive to better and distinct. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop to develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There is one space left. Your investment (including food and lodging) is $4500 until February 21 and $5500 after that. Spouses or significant others welcome.
The Hudson Valley in the Revolution (July 27-30) focuses on people-centric innovation. We’ll travel to Fort Ticonderoga on beautiful Lake Champlain, the famous Saratoga battlefield, the majestic garrison at West Point, and the Stony Point battlefield. Most threats to an organization’s success come from within, and this challenge was true for the Continental Army. We’ll use the history to discuss practical ways to address toxic workplace behaviors, engage and retain your top talent, inspire people to contribute their best to your team’s success, and many others. You’ll build new thought leadership that will be game-changers for your clients and employees.