I expect the Queensland Government will find it very hard to resist the pressure to end border restrictions once we reach the 80% vaccination target, but the report in The Australian today reminds us that even that isn’t guaranteed: Jab won’t equal freedom as Queensland goes rogue. We should be asking whether our increasingly authoritarian COVID response is determined by a rational and scientific assessment of the risks from COVID versus the costs of restrictions, or is it driven by fear? Increasingly, and paradoxically given how far we are into the pandemic, I think it’s being determined by the latter. Could the state government ignore the scientific modelling of the Doherty Institute? Doesn’t the state government trust the science?
Incidentally, why trust science is the topic of my latest podcast episode, EP101 How do we know what we know or why trust science? In these times of intense debate over COVID-19 and climate change policies, it is important to ask what theories and evidence we can trust – i.e. how do we know what’s true or why trust science? I am a great believer in science, and in the podcast discussion I talk about what constitutes a rigorous scientific method and good evidence. In the discussion, I borrowed heavily from the classic text What is this thing called science? which UQ economics students of the eighties and nineties will no doubt recall, and Naomi Oreskes’s excellent 2020 book Why trust science? Also, worth reading is Andrew Leigh’s paper What evidence should social policymakers use? which he wrote during his secondment to the Treasury in the first year of the Rudd Government.
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