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Believe and Tremble


A majority of Americans expect they won’t be able to have gatherings of 10 or more until July or later, according to a new Washington Post-University of Maryland poll. Nearly a quarter of Americans are taking an even longer view, saying it will not be safe until 2021 or later for such events.

“The findings provide more evidence that Americans remain worried about the threat of the virus and cautious about efforts to lift stay-at-home restrictions and to reopen businesses, even as many governors have begun to move in that direction,” Dan Balz and Scott Clement write. “In the face of plans in many states to gradually ease those limitations, significant majorities of Americans continue to emphasize the need for social distancing and other safety measures.”

The poll also surveyed Americans about social distancing and face covering practices. It found 8 in 10 say it’s necessary for people in their community to wear a mask when they’re outside, and more than 8 in 10 say it’s important for people to stay at least six feet apart from other people when in public. Three-quarters of Americans also say people in their communities should avoid gathering with friends outside their households. The Washington Post

As we journey toward potentially lifting Covid-19 related restrictions, sustaining public trust in science (as well as scientists) requires discussing how science is done and the outcomes of its work.

Embracing uncertainty, questioning reliability and foregrounding the hypothetical, this process gives us varying degrees of confidence in what we might say

The scientific process – at its basic – is built on experimentation. It generalizes with caution, being open and revisionist.

Scientists work as a community to come to consensus. When an eminent professor suggests a new idea to tackle Covid-19, colleagues will be supportive but skeptical – let’s see the data!

After all, “the devils also believe and tremble.”

We are left not with a dichotomy between fact and fiction but with a spectrum of falsifiable results.

Scientists collect evidence through a process which does not result in absolute certitude. Meaning, it may (or may not) confirm hypotheses, but rather quotes any findings with error bars.

“Would you like evidence that faith without works is useless?”

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