State Power Doesn’t Settle Science

Source: American Institute for Economic Research
by Barry Brownstein

“In his book Sway, Ori Brafman tells a story of sitting in an MBA class taught by Professor Roberto Fernandez. Fernandez showed the class a film of a 1950s open heart surgery to make a point about how people ignore information. The film showed the surgeon pouring a white powder over the patient’s heart; the powder was asbestos. ‘Unsurprisingly, the patients administered the asbestos started dying off,’ but the hospital continued with its surgical protocol. In the 1950s, vested interests resisted the bad news about asbestos. Yet, no one had the power to stop discovery by proclaiming ‘the science is settled.’ No one claimed airing opposing views would kill people. So scientific discovery continued, and relatively safe open-heart surgery developed in a reasonably short time. … When bad medicine is not backed by state power, its destructive force is limited.” (07/27/22)