In the context of describing its policy regarding the COVID vaccines, a large company recently issued this statement:
The Company believes in the efficacy of the vaccines and believes that having as many associates vaccinated as possible is the best path to maximize safety for our associates, customers, vendors, visitors, our families, and the community
I appreciate the phrasing, because it is clearly a statement of faith, not objective fact. The vaccines are still experimental (a.k.a. “investigational”), which means by definition their efficacy has not been proven. Even the vaccine manufacturers admit that the vaccines will not prevent the vaccinated from catching COVID; their claim is that their testing only indicated that vaccinated people are likely to have less severe cases when they do catch it. Moreover, they acknowledge that vaccinated people who catch COVID may be able to pass it along to others. So, there is no evidence that injecting people with these vaccines will be more effective at limiting the spread of COVID than allowing the human immune system to do its job.
But it gets even more interesting. The company followed up its statement of faith in the vaccines with this remarkable pledge:
As we develop our policies, we’ll continue to be driven by data and the medical science that supports the safety and efficacy of the vaccines
Please notice the implication of this statement. Data and science that support the safety and efficacy of the vaccines will drive the company’s policies. This suggests that data and studies that call the safety and efficacy of the vaccines into question will not have a role in the company’s policies. Like many religious people, this company is only interested in evidence that supports what it already believes. So, not only does this company have faith in the vaccines, it has the most irrational kind of faith: the kind that refuses to consider evidence that could challenge the faith.
When public figures use the expression “follow the science” they are often referring to this kind of blind, irrational faith. They are not talking about an objective evaluation of all available evidence. Rather, they are talking about following the pronouncements of select experts and the suppression of all evidence that challenges those pronouncements.