During the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, as lockdowns were put in place by government, there was concern about the experts demanding the decisions. They were overwhelmingly not biologists and immunologists and doctors but were instead epidemiologists using numerical models and making projections with data in rapid flux.
And, claims former Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, dissent was banned. Few wanted to hear discussion about the mental health aspects of extended isolation on children, or missed doctor’s appointments and NHS waiting list backlogs so extensive that now patients take pride in recounting stories about how long it has been since they were allowed to even see a doctor.
It was never applied equally, which means the decisions by government epidemiologists was capricious and arbitrary. Those deemed 'essential' by a government panel - oddly, so important the lives of them and their families were less valuable than everyone else - and poor children were worth risking by sending them to government classrooms. Professor Neil Ferguson claimed 500,000 Brits would die unless they went into lockdown for months but then repeatedly snuck around to have sex with another man's wife. He didn't believe his own model, yet the British public were told they'd be called Tories if they didn't obey it. The lockdowns went on even longer than estimated, with many schools not beginning to open until August of that year, despite immunologists noting that children were not strong carriers of SARS-CoV-2 and so few would be harmed if they got COVID-19 it had to be statistical noise.
Every life counts, except in the UK that is not really true. Because health care is nationalized, a panel absolutely makes decisions and then protocols about what lives are worth saving every day. The UK does not have a speed limit of 10 kph for cars even though it would end deaths in automobile accidents. Why are tens of thousands of lives acceptable risk, from cars or flu, but discussion was banned when it came to COVID-19?
COVID-19 science advice was quite good, or at least in good faith. Yet policy decisions often were not. It was instead 'do as you are told or any lives lost are on your head.'
The problem is not epidemiology, like physics or social psychology it can do valuable work or promote fraud, but in the case of those other two the public does not turn over its societal engine to them and let them determine policy based on old models they wrote themselves and were only validated using a small test suite of problems to see if they could 'predict the past.' Using bad logic, politically connected epidemiologists who were handed spots on government panels can still insist they were right; 500,000 Brits did not die, right?
It is magic rock thinking, a la "The Simpsons", which is funny - but that should not be government policy.
Source: Season 7, Episode 23: "Much Apu About Nothing"
HOMER: Well, there's not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
LISA: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
HOMER: Thank you, honey.
LISA: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
HOMER: Oh, how does it work?
LISA: It doesn't work. It's a stupid rock.
LISA: But I don't see any tigers around here, do you?
HOMER: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.