When a question isn’t a question

In a closed forum frequented by volleyball coaches, the issue of coaching and playing in masks as a pandemic introduced measure often gets discussed, which leads to quite a bit of rancor. In coaching and sport circles, many practices are adopted as canon, often with poor scientific support. While there, I did post an offer:

If you have a specific question, I can provide what the peer reviewed study is. Science is a process, not an authority.

To which I got the following reply:

“Yes please I would like to see a peer reviewed study on the effectiveness of the vaccine which was originally marketed as a cure, then changed to a way to make symptoms milder, but does not show any improvement in contracting, spreading or dying from the virus.

Or could you simply show me where the vaccine has full FDA approval, not emergency use only?  

Also the long term test results on children being injected with this vaccine. It appears they want to use our children as the testing ground.  

That will do for now.”  

Ed Morel

permission was granted to reprint the quote in full with attribution

Scientific rigor takes an attention to detail that most people are unwilling to devote, but it does clash with the very human desire to start with a narrative and occlude anything that doesn’t fit it (confirmation bias). This is an interesting view of using questions as a way to enforce a narrative in the guise of querying for data.

Let’s start with the ending sentence: that will do for now. From there, we note the dismissal of a superior to a servant. The author takes the offer of research as entitled servitude. Instead of asking questions (which would admit ignorance – but admission of ignorance is the beginning of becoming enlightened), Morel makes demands. What’s evident is Morel is seeking conflict, which is fodder for social media algorithms. Scientific discourse should recognize tribal identification when it can interfere with finding the truth; this is particularly difficult when bringing science into sport since the latter literally profits on tribal divisions. And this, unfortunately, can paint science itself as a tribal flag.

Now, some clarifications

  • Not all vaccines are the same. Even the COVID-19 vaccines stem from different technologies. So a demand about “the vaccine” lacks specificity.
  • Certainly none of the COVID-19 vaccines are touted as cures. Vaccines are preventative measures.
  • Vaccines protect against disease, not necessarily against infection.
  • Peer reviewed studies are published and readily available on the efficacy and effectiveness of the different vaccines.

By filling the first sentence with inaccuracies, Morel has made it impossible to secure a study because his narrative is set in a fantasy of his own creation. This is not a question to learn more, but an attempt to elicit conflict by muddying the discussion, and setting up a straw man to claim “victory”. But it’s a good example to recognize the false pretenses.

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