One of the worst pieces of shit science that was published in the last 20 years was the purported connection between autism and vaccines.
It was bad science, that lead to smart people making bad decisions that put their children’s lives at risk. Worse, it resulted in an amazing amount of money being spent to invalidate what could only be described as nonsense. And then it turns out that it was nonsense.
I, honest to God, thought it was the worst case of bad science in the service of horrible policy.
I lacked imagination.
One of the most disastrous public policy decisiosn of the past 5 years has been the decision to focus on austerity while in a depression.
Two forces were driving this.
The first force is a morality play. Some people believe that the government should not be spending other (mostly rich) people’s money. The core belief is that rich people are better at figuring out how to spend money than the government. It’s a legitimate point of view. One I used to agree with.
The second force is really bad science. There was a paper that seemed to prove the dangerous connection between debt and impoverishment. And another paper that argued that austerity could lead to growth, which in my head sounds like bloodletting to heal someone. Folks who believed in the morality play used science to argue for austerity. In spite of the fact that the experiment in austerity has failed, they continued to pursue the strategy convinced that eventually the science would prove them right.
So which is worse? Dead children or hundreds of millions of destroyed lives? I wonder what ring of hell Dante would put both sets of buffoons in …