Reader's letter: Virus projections needed to be tested
I was interested to see Dr Bassey’s letter Testing Is Crucial Part Of Science in the Advertiser responding to my letter Pandemic Is Case Of Guess And Test.
I agree with the title given to his letter and I commend the approach to science described in the textbook he wrote in 1968, which was written in a time when computers were only just being developed.
The point that I was trying to make is that the current use of computers in forecasting depends on the ‘guesses’ now known as mathematical models.
I use the term guess rather than the word hypothesis preferred by Dr Bassey because the early models of the effects of the pandemic could not have been based on any experience of what is a previously unknown virus and must therefore have been, in effect, ‘guesses’.
Dr Bassey emphasises the need to test any hypothesis against the facts and if it proves wrong to propose a new solution and to test that again.
I completely agree.
However, I am concerned by the loose description of the output of such models as data or evidence without any trials of the forecasts made.
I concluded by saying that the health of science depends on encouraging the testing of the models against the facts using controlled trials.
On this, Dr Bassey and I are in agreement. The idea of ‘consensus science’ is anathema to the importance of scientific method recommended in his textbook.
The investment of huge sums of public money based solely on the ‘science’ of model projections is horrifying to me. — ROBERT SHEPPARD, Beckingham.