Science is most effective when it is given the most amount of room to be wrong

But being wrong is part of the process. Though it stings, public acknowledgement that scientists got something wrong is the very element that enables us to correct course. This doesn’t make science unreliable — it is the very aspect that sustains its reliability. Disagreement, discussion, and debate are indications of healthy science. And you don’t get these without an intellectual culture in which mistakes are reckoned with and improvements made.

The problem is science doesn’t always proceed this way. Sometimes, pride and politics threaten intellectual honesty and scientific rigor. With the coronavirus pandemic, for example, science and medical professionals have made public statements and predictions on a very public issue, and this has led to standing by these statements and predictions even when there turns out to be little evidence to back up the positions (or, worse, evidence to the contrary).

When things get political, scientific exploration and self-correction are hindered as public opinion and perception begin to play key roles in shaping our conclusions. We start to see what we want to see and choose to use rhetoric over empirical data to justify our positions.