As we’re seeing in this pandemic, politicians tend to favour the evidence that supports their argument
At this stage in the coronavirus crisis, the government seems to have made error after error. The UK was slow to enforce a lockdown that seemed inevitable, shortages of personal protective equipment contributed to unnecessary deaths and it seems doubtful the government will meet its self-imposed target of 100,000 tests per day by the end of this week. While other European leaders have laid out roadmaps for how they plan to lift the lockdown, explaining the science informing their respective approaches, the UK’s own exit strategy remains unclear. Until the identities of 23 members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) were revealed by the Guardian, they were shrouded in secrecy.
Yet at every turn, the government has told us that it is “following the science”. Its strategy, we are told, is informed by the “best science available”. Though scientific evidence can be a sound justification for government action (or inaction), the relationship between science, politics and society is far more complex than the government would have us believe.