Avoiding the ‘Expertise’ Problem; Reflecting on the CPAC ‘Government Is Dangerous to Your Health’ Panel – Opinion

For two years, not only America, but the world has endured the imposition of “health” policy by medical and administrative “experts” – with the latter making up the majority, often without any relevant training in the field. We see them in the US in top positions such as Rochelle Walensky or Anthony Fauci. But, they are also found in many other self-appointed experts who claim exclusive medical knowledge regarding a relatively new phenomenon.

All this occurs, of course, amidst a situation where any medical or scientific professional worth that label has freely stated the one actual truth we can know – that is, that we know precious little. Yet the experts we have been subjected to for years now claimed, and continue to claim, some superior, almost gnostic, level of knowledge – often despite straying far beyond their expertise, training or specialization. These same people supported, guided, and instituted policy that made the phrase ‘we actually don’t know’ anathema to their own vocabulary. Power, praise, and increased prestige were the goals of the day – not adherence to objective truth, adapting to changing situations, and perhaps most especially, updating our approach with emerging data.

During CPAC’s panel “The Government is Dangerous to Your Health” on Saturday, February 27th, moderated by Jason Rantz, I found myself wondering if the conservative movement might also be picking up its own experts on the topic — not by their actual accomplishments or trustworthiness, but because we agree with what they’re saying, all driven by a desperate need to have our preconceptions confirmed by people with that MD behind their names. Did our bias influence who we trust and support from our highest platforms? This has already caused a lot of harm to our movement and the truth behind what we believe in in science and medicine such as personalized care, autonomy and informed consent.

Any event, panel or discussion on science or medicine that is politically motivated, I enter with some skepticism. It doesn’t matter if it’s hosted by the right or the left. The CNN talk-head MDs are just as important to me as those appearing at Fox News or OANN. As a physician, I’m more concerned about what a person gains from being involved in promoting politics or working as a media consultant. CPAC was full of people who were either running for office like Dr. Oz or enjoying newfound fame after years of being obscure, so I expected things would get worse.

To my surprise, I found both Dr. Oz and Dr. Brooke Miller quite level-headed, with both slightly willing to say the ‘unpopular’ things, such as Dr. Oz admitting he had been vaccinated – which garnered a room-wide negative response. I certainly didn’t agree with everything they said: Dr. Miller seemed far too harsh on the Big Pharma trope (when the reality of pharmaceutical companies and the research they do – the leading research in the world, mind you – is far more nuanced than a monolithic ‘this good, that bad’ perception). Dr. Oz made a good case for medical values that are aligned with conservative values, and which have been thrown to the wayside during the pandemic – such as individualized care, the doctor’s ability to do what they think is best for their patient, and freedom to try – with the consent of the patient – experimental treatments when up against something new and unknown like a global pandemic.

More so, I was impressed with Dr. Miller’s admission of that singular phrase that has been so neglected these past two years: “I don’t know.” We must be open-minded, objectively assess new data, and realize that none of this is set in stone – as evidenced by the examples he gave of times when previous medical knowledge, of even a few decades ago, had been rendered obsolete by new findings. Although they have the CPAC stage advantage, both men showed humility and were willing to talk with the interviewer. That was when Dr. Malone addressed questions I had that were more concerning.

Dr. Malone received two questions about the mechanisms and operation of mRNA vaccinations. Twice, he deflected. Instead, he gave many vague platitudes, never disputed the title he claims for himself as the “inventor of mRNA technology,” and seemed far more interested in giving the audience what they wanted to hear – and twice, to a standing ovation.

This raised concerns that some MDs and scientific or medical professionals whom we encourage as conservatives could be doing more damage than good. This is why it’s becoming more important for conservatives that they be more careful about whom and what fields they are supporting. It’s necessary to vet these ‘experts’ — just as we would vet those we see on CNN or in the White House. Two things are necessary to accomplish this: First, find more experts in the fields and include them. Second, accept that not all information provided by political opponents on the experts might be accurate.

We have fallen for the second fallacy too many times. It is that we believe that anything MSNBC or NYT has published must be true. It is common to see liberals fall prey to this error all the time. And it can just as easily harm us as it does them.

One prime example is Dr. Robert Malone. These articles cast a critical eye on Malone’s claims to be the father in mRNA technology. Some of these articles have been written in direct opposition to Malone’s claim of being the ‘inventor of mRNA technology’. They are correct in their timelines – Dr. Malone did not, all by himself, invent this technology. This technology has been influenced and affected by hundreds of scientists, including Dr. Malone. From nearly thirty years ago, he contributed two papers to the field. In fact, it’s not hard to see the line of thinking between many of Malone’s interviews on the mRNA technology if you read his papers and then consider he is deriving his conclusions more from the state mRNA technology was in those days, without taking into account any of the subsequent research.

Furthermore, it’s important to realize that there are many others who, if they so wished, could lay a stronger claim to the title of ‘inventor of mRNA technology, or ‘inventor of the mRNA vaccine’. This includes scientists such as Katalin Karikó. In fact, I am confident in the statement that far more people within the conservative movement have heard of Dr. Malone than have heard of Dr. Karikó, even though her contribution is objectively undeniably more significant to the coronavirus vaccines.

This can be a problem. This makes us more vulnerable to misidentifications of their work and knowledge. It also leaves them open to being influenced by the same kind of gnostic aura as Anthony Fauci. This, in turn, weakens what would be very strong and logical arguments on our part, because those who disagree with us but might be open to discussion are immediately put out by what and who they might fully understand as someone who can’t be trusted to be truthful.

This is an issue we can’t afford and one that we need to address. Better vetting should rely on other scientists and doctors – preferably ones who do not seek any form of political or promotional benefit – who can analyze the work and words of those whom we do decide to give the greatest platforms we have. It is also important to ask yourself if you are applauding or promoting someone simply because they appear to share our expertise? They use flashy and easy language that will get you the best emotional reaction. Is it possible that we do this because we are able to trust and respect them, even when we disagree with them?

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