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COVID-19: Ignorance, Uncertainty and Doubt

In the News | April 10, 2020

Science is valuable in the current COVID-19 pandemic because it allows us to do things. But science is also valuable because it helps us to accept the inevitable ignorance, uncertainty, and doubt that accompanies a crisis. In his latest column for Forbes, MƒA President John Ewing writes about the obvious, and not so obvious, value of science.

"Science allows us to test for infection, to reduce mortality, to check for immunity. Soon, it will allow us to formulate a vaccine. Science will do these things … and more, and that makes science valuable. But science is also valuable for another reason in a pandemic: It helps people to understand and therefore reassures them.” 

Ewing states that in the rest of life we don’t like ignorance, we avoid uncertainty, and we overcome doubt. But in science, we embrace these things.

“Scientist Richard Feynman's remarkable insight was that the things we fear most in a pandemic—ignorance, uncertainty and doubt—are the same things we find most reassuring, once we understand their importance.” 

Read Ewing's full Forbes column, “COVID-19: Ignorance, Uncertainty and Doubt,” here.