Politics, Post-Truth Science and COVID-19

Masks, schools, contact-tracing, quarantine, ventilation, vaccines. Policymakers said they were “following the science” – but the science was contested, sometimes aggressively and even violently. Research progressed at unprecedented pace and scale; too little knowledge quickly became too much. A few questions were resolved, but many were not. “Facts” were not merely value-laden; time after time they slipped the shackles of scientific circumspection and became saturated with ideology. Uncertainty became a weapon to be used tactically by politicians and interest groups. As definitive answers continued to elude them, scientists – their flawed assumptions, their premature conclusions, their academic rivalries, their political allegiances, their private lives – became the story.

This presentation aired at Sydney Health Partners’ fourth-annual Implementation Science Symposium, on November 18, 2020.

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