Why scientists fear the “toxic” Covid-19 debate


Copy-paste from The New Statesman.

The hyper-polarisation of discussions about how to handle the coronavirus pandemic risks stifling nuance and undermining scientific inquiry. By Laurie Clarke.

On one side of the Covid-19 debate are the anti-maskers, self-styled freedom fighters versed in the ideals of free market libertarianism and the defence of personal liberties. On the other, are the militant pro-lockdowners – curtain-twitching vigilantes obsessed with rising case numbers to the exclusion of every other metric. 

Thesecaricatures have dogged popular culture since the coronavirus crisis began. Six months since the first peak in April, the debate is still highly politicised.

A number of scientists saya climate of fear has taken hold where academics are afraid to speak out for fear of being vilified. The replacement of nuanced debate with hyper-polarisation and insult-trading has prompted many to despair over the erosion of healthy scientific discussion and a potential breakdownof public trust. 


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