Florida: A History of Science Denial

July 26, 2020

In Florida, it was forbidden for years for state employees to use the words “climate change”.
That ridiculous charade has come to an end, – you can say the words now, even if the science continues to be ignored.

More recently, the Florida governor has been suppressing and ignoring the best science from his own experts on the corona virus.
How’s that been going?

Washington Post:

As Florida became a global epicenter of the coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis held one meeting this month with his top public health official, Scott Rivkees, according to the governor’s schedule. His health department has sidelined scientists, halting briefings last month with disease specialists and telling the experts there was not sufficient personnel from the state to continue participating.

“I never received information about what happened with my ideas or results,” said Thomas Hladish, a University of Florida research scientist whose regular calls with the health department ended June 29. “But I did hear the governor say the models were wrong about everything.”

DeSantis (R) this month traveled to Miami to hold a roundtable with South Florida mayors, whose region was struggling as a novel coronavirus hot spot. But the Republican mayor of Hialeah was shut out, weeks after saying the governor “hasn’t done much”for a city disproportionately affected by the virus.

As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidenceaccording to interviews with 64 current and former state and administration officials, health administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and hospital executives. The crisis in Florida, these observers say, has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on shifting metrics, influenced by a small group of advisers and tethered at every stage to the Trump administration, which has no unified plan for addressing the national health emergency but has pushed for states to reopen.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States..The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

— Isaac Asimov

DeSantis relies primarily on the advice of his wife, Casey, a former television reporter and host, and his chief of staff, Shane Strum, a former hospital executive, according to Republican political operatives, including a former member of his administration.

“It’s a universe of three — Shane and Casey,” said one Republican consultant close to DeSantis’s team who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment.

The response — which DeSantis boasted weeks ago was among the best in the nation — has quickly sunk Florida into a deadly morass. Nearly 5,800 Floridians have now died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus — more deaths than were suffered in combat by Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq after 2001. One out of every 52 Floridians has been infected with the virus. The state’s intensive care units are being pushed to the brink, with some over capacity. Florida’s unemployment system is overwhelmed, and its tourism industry is a shambles.


7 Responses to “Florida: A History of Science Denial”

  1. doldrom Says:

    “Nearly 5,800 Floridians have now died of covid-19, the disease caused by the virus — more deaths than were suffered in combat by Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq after 2001.”

    These are ridiculous types of comparisons, like how many times to the sun and back would be the dollar bills representing the national debt. How many of those 5800 deaths were battle-aged athletic and fit young people? It would be more illustrative to compare the months of life forfeited, and compare to the opium epidemic, or other communicable diseases which also take the lives of many infants and young children. Everybody eventually dies of something, be it a heat wave or a fall down the stairs. Cherry picking statistical “facts” usually obscure more than they reveal, whether they feature taxes or diseases.

    My takeway: Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan…

  2. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    How many of those 5800 deaths were battle-aged athletic and fit young people?

    On the other hand, all of the 5800 deaths were in one of the wealthiest and “safest” places in the world. Competent management could have communicated the problem to the public, arranged for more oversight in care facilities, and hustled to provide resources to the healthcare system. For cryin’ out loud, they had the luxury of weeks of forecast from the situations in the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area, northern Italy, Korea, etc. If deSantis hadn’t spent time fellating Trump and instead followed the advice of actual experts, he could have gotten in front of a lot of it, and maybe let it sink into his thick head that not only is there latency in individuals’ symptoms of the virus, but that asymptomatic people can unknowingly be spreading this contagious disease.

    It is so ironic that the people most fixated on protecting the economy have done so much to make it worse.

    • leslie graham Says:

      “…the people most fixated on protecting the economy have done so much to make it worse…”

      Exactly so – so predictable and predicted.
      It’s not as if there were no precedents either. The Spanish Flu pandemic (more correctly named The Kansas Flu pandemic) demonstrated precisely the same outcomes. Those states that opened the earliest endured the most severe economic hardships over the next few years.
      It’s all there in stark black and white graphs – public records freely available to anyone. Open early – lose money.

    • doldrom Says:

      Safe? Not for Corona. It was already clear in Feb that the most frequent co-morbidities tick off the list of metabolic syndrome symptoms, so the US had a relatively high proportion of high risk individuals right off the bat.

      US life expectancy trend is dropping. I have seen it attributed to stress and economic precariousness, but it would not surprise me if opioid OD’s and/or metabolic syndrome were significant variables.

  3. Ignoring science seems to become some kind of religion. A sort of 1984 Ignorance is strenght thing. But that was just a book. This is real and scary.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Ignoring science seems to be a religion only among Republicans, and it has been going on for some time. Read THE REPUBLICAN WAR ON SCIENCE. by Chris Mooney, 2005, Basic Books for an excellent detailed rundown. Check out THE REPUBLICAN BRAIN, also by Mooney for followup on the defects in Republican brains that contribute to this.

      (and Asimov nailed it—-our response to covid-19 in the US proves it)

  4. […] Science (or lack of science) in Florida, George Carlin still making sense, and dumbest man in congress reaps his karma… […]

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