Fellow Patriot: The voluntary financial generosity of supporters like you keeps our hard-hitting analysis coming. Please support the 2024 Patriots' Day Campaign today. Thank you for your support! —Nate Jackson, Managing Editor

January 1, 2024

Confession of a Public-Health Expert

Francis Collins has noted that he and his colleagues demonstrated an “unfortunate” narrow-mindedness.

The public-health officials are getting around to admitting the fallibility of public-health officials.

The former head of the National Institutes of Health during the pandemic and current science advisor to President Joe Biden, Francis Collins, has noted that he and his colleagues demonstrated an “unfortunate” narrow-mindedness.

This is a welcome, if belated, confession.

Not too long ago, anyone who said that epidemiologists might be overly focused on disease prevention to the exclusion of other concerns — you know, like jobs, mental health and schooling — were dismissed as reckless nihilists who didn’t care if their fellow citizens died en masse.

Now, Francis Collins has weighed in to tell us that many of the people considered close-minded and anti-science during COVID were advancing an appropriately balanced view of the trade-offs inherent in the pandemic response.

“If you’re a public-health person and you’re trying to make a decision, you have this very narrow view of what the right decision is,” Collins said at an event earlier this year that garnered attention online the last couple of days.

This is not a new insight, or a surprising one. It’s a little like saying Bolsheviks will be focused on nationalizing the means of production over everything else, or a golf pro will be monomaniacal about the proper mechanics of a swing.

The problem comes, of course, when public health, or “public health,” becomes the only guide to public policy. Then, you are giving a group of obsessives, who have an important role to play within proper limits, too much power in a way that is bound to distort your society.

Francis Collins, again: “So you attach infinite value to stopping the disease and saving a life. You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never quite recover from.”

True and well said, but that’s an awful lot of very important things to attach “zero value” to.

He also admitted to having an urban bias, driven by working out of Washington D.C. and thinking almost exclusively about New York City and other major cities.

If Francis Collins and his cohort got it wrong, the likes of Florida governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia governor Brian Kemp — and the renegade scientists and doctors who supported their more modulated approach to the pandemic — got it right.

It’s always worth remembering that the pandemic was a once-in-hundred-years event and initially, we had very little information and very few means to prevent and treat the disease. It is inevitable that decision-makers are going to make mistakes in such a crisis, and adjust as they go.

That said, the scientists who were in positions of authority could have shown more modesty. They could have welcomed debate. They could have distanced themselves from — or better yet, denounced — the campaign of moral bullying carried out in their name.

Many people wanted to outsource their thinking to the experts and then, with a great sense of righteousness, rely on arguments from authority to demonize their opponents and shut down every policy dispute.

Francis Collins, one of the most eminent scientists in the country and a subtle thinker who dissents from the orthodoxy that science and faith are incompatible, would have been an ideal voice to counter the propaganda campaigns that aimed to suppress unwelcome views and even unwelcome facts. Instead, he stuck with his tribe.

It’s progress, though, to realize that scientists, too, are susceptible to group-think, recency bias and parochialism; that the experts may know an incredible amount about a very narrow area, while knowing little to nothing about broader matters of greater consequence; that point of views considered dangerous lunacy may, over time, prove out, so they shouldn’t be censored or otherwise quashed.

It’s not just that the scientists acted like blinkered scientists during the pandemic; they tolerated, or participated in, agitprop that was inimical to the scientific spirit and to good public policy.

© 2023 by King Features Syndicate

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

The Patriot Post and Patriot Foundation Trust, in keeping with our Military Mission of Service to our uniformed service members and veterans, are proud to support and promote the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, both the Honoring the Sacrifice and Warrior Freedom Service Dogs aiding wounded veterans, the National Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, the Folds of Honor outreach, and Officer Christian Fellowship, the Air University Foundation, and Naval War College Foundation, and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13)


“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

Please join us in prayer for our nation — that righteous leaders would rise and prevail and we would be united as Americans. Pray also for the protection of our Military Patriots, Veterans, First Responders, and their families. Please lift up your Patriot team and our mission to support and defend our Republic's Founding Principle of Liberty, that the fires of freedom would be ignited in the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2024 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.