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26 Mar, 17 tweets, 3 min read
I've been thinking a bit about why I'm so unimpressed by the arguments about how terrible "academic silencing" is, and I've got some thoughts 1/n
2/n You know the arguments I mean. They usually go something like "[x famous academic] is being horribly silenced/faced the modern inquisition!"

And they usually come off as, well, nonsense
3/n Now, part of this is because the academic being defended usually has not by any description been silenced. Nobel laureates and tenured professors at Stanford don't really need defending they can do it themselves
4/n As a wise man said "it's basically impossible to silence a man who can call his own press conferences" (paraphrased)
5/n But the other thing about these ridiculous arguments that I dislike is how incredibly costless they are

No one is risking much when they go to bat for, say, Professor John Ioannidis
6/n Seriously, ignoring anything else, Prof Ioannidis is one of the most famous academics in the world, and a tenured professor with no small number of friends/colleagues
7/n When you defend an eminent professor, you're not so much fighting the current as you are riding the wave of support

It's a bit like this scene from Rick and Morty
8/n I mean, Professor Ioannidis is, by all accounts, a lovely guy and a very dedicated researcher

But he's also enormously famous, and clearly in no danger of being "silenced" in any way any time soon
9/n Where are the defenses of the PhD students who speak up? The post-docs who have been shouted down?

They exist. But they don't get STAT editorials
10/n Often, FINDING these people is quite hard, because THEY HAVE BEEN SILENCED. They have little power, and their voices regularly go unheard despite often having really important things to say
11/n But instead of trying to push up the powerless, we get people arguing that Scott Atlas, one of the most powerful medical professionals in the world for much of 2020, was a victim of "silencing"
12/n Any narrative that talks about silencing but focuses on some of the most famous scientists globally is, to my mind, more about generating media attention than it is about academic integrity
13/n To a great extent, that's because they are defending the powerful from scrutiny, instead of trying to make space for the powerless to have a voice
14/n When you defend a powerful professor, his friends and colleagues will join you

When you defend a post-doc who's been kicked out of a lab for blowing the whistle, you have to fight the powerful people who silenced them with no support
15/n If we really care about the sanctity of open debate, we should be stopping attacks that punch down, not the rare occasion when a tenured professor's colleagues are mean to them in a way that has no real impact on their career
16/n And look, I'm not writing any of this on my own behalf. I have by no possible definition of the word been "silenced"

But I know plenty of people who kind of have
17/n Some of them are public, not all of them want to be, but if you want examples @hertzpodcast has covered this sort of issue numerous times. It's prevalent, and it is a problem

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More from @GidMK

23 Mar
People often make the claim that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have "failed to protect the elderly"

While initially this was definitely true (April/March 2020), I'm not sure the claim is accurate past that 1/n
2/n I'm basing my opinion here on seroprevalence data. This is basically data looking at who has antibodies to COVID-19, and therefore who was previously infected

We reviewed 100s of studies for our IFR paper. What did they show?…
3/n Well, not all of them looked at the age-stratified rates of infection

But of those that DID, an interesting pattern emerges
Read 17 tweets
22 Mar
The somewhat depressing fact is that making COVID-19 predictions is essentially cost-free

No one will hold you accountable for predicting wrong, if they even remember in a few months time
The reality is that most people who have predicted the future of COVID with any certainty have made a lot of mistakes, but no one ever checks back to audit those in any meaningful way
There are people who get massive media attention once a month when they confidently predict that COVID-19 will be over in 4-6 weeks time, even though they've been doing it for over a year now
Read 5 tweets
21 Mar
It's not like this is something most infectious diseases epidemiologists have been saying since March last year

Oh wait
Herd immunity through natural infection was always an absurd idea that made no sense whatsoever

Herd immunity through population vaccination is more complex
This is something covered in the John Snow Memorandum quite well, actually. There's no guarantee that immunity (even vaccine-induced) will last sufficiently long to ensure herd immunity
Read 7 tweets
18 Mar
Very interesting study out of Denmark looking at SARS-CoV-2 reinfections:

- 0.65% symptomatic reinfections after 7 months
- in sensitivity analysis this doubled to 1.2%
- estimated ~80% short-term protection against reinfection Image
Studies like this make me very jealous of my Nordic colleagues. The authors had access to linked data for *the entire country of Denmark*, which is a pretty enormous strength of the research Image
Basically, they looked at every PCR test done in the first wave, and followed up every person to see if they had tested positive in the first, second, or both waves

Of those in the sample, 0.65% were infected twice
Read 7 tweets
17 Mar
Something I think about a lot is that studies don't get retracted because they're bad, they get retracted because they are famous
Don't get me wrong, they are ALSO bad. It takes a truly awful study to get a scientific journal to wrest itself free of apathy and inertia to take some action

But there are 1,000s of woeful papers
Thing is, no one is paid to catch bad research. It is a thankless, time-consuming task that at best earns you the mistrust of most of your peers

And so, no one does it methodically
Read 9 tweets
16 Mar
You may have seen the massive viral tweets about how staying at home doesn't prevent COVID-19 deaths

These were based on a paper with what we think are quite significant flaws

Our full critique now preprinted here:
The basic explanation here is that the original article looked at whether Google "residential" mobility data was correlated with COVID-19 death rates, and found no association
There are significant drawbacks with that methodology, some of which I outlined in a thread

Read 8 tweets

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