Two decades ago, Robert Proctor coined the term agnotology to refer to the study of ignorance that stems from scientific research. Amid the coronavirus disease pandemic, the world is witnessing the greatest natural experiment ever, and countries have adopted different response strategies. An evaluation of the effectiveness of different policies will play a valuable role in preparing for future public health emergencies. However, controversial issues such as the timing and pathways of viral emergence, the effectiveness of social distancing and lockdown strategies, and the use of antimalarial drugs as therapy have still not been fully resolved. This serves as a fertile breeding ground for agnotological strategies, whereby scientific studies are deliberately or unintentionally designed to create distractions or draw conclusions that are not supported by research findings. Researchers, public health authorities, and healthcare workers should be equipped to identify such agnotological strategies, distinguish them from scientific fraud, and avoid drawing misleading inferences based on an irrational adherence to hypotheses and a lack of criticism of implausible results.
Coronavirus disease; Epidemiology; Knowledge; Philosophy
Fortaleza, Carlos Magno Castelo Branco. (2020). Evidence, rationality, and ignorance: Agnotological issues in COVID-19 science. Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical, 53, e20200475.
Publisher (Open Access): https://doi.org/10.1590/0037-8682-0475-2020