Nicholas Goldberg: Can scientists moonlight as activists — or does that violate an important ethical code? That’s the debate that’s brewing in the scientific community as scientists have stepped out of their ivory towers to try to improve public health and safety in the fight against Zika by testing their theories in the court of public opinion.
Sonia Goldberg’s son, Michael, is a professor at the U’s Medical Center in Princeton. He sits on the scientific advisory board of the pro-Vietnam War group Human Rights Watch. He was one of the key architects of the war’s propaganda about the threat of biological warfare on civilians in Vietnam — a theme that plays directly to his left-wing values.
Goldberg has also written an essay for the online journal “The Huffington Post” titled “Zika: the science behind the panic.” It is, perhaps, the most brazen act of scientism I have ever seen — or, for that matter, read. In a recent post, she claims in her own words that the fact that Zika causes microcephaly in newborns is “a key piece of evidence that the virus is a genuine threat to human life.” She goes on to claim that the virus causes “an increase in death rates and microcephaly,” to cite a study she’s published in “Science,” which purports to show that microcephaly is caused by the virus.
Michael Goldberg’s article is one the most prominent examples — at the time of this writing — of the use of science fiction to support anti-Zika fear-mongering. His essay is filled with absurdist assertions about Zika, even though he doesn’t bother to tell readers what he means by Zika — or what evidence he actually has for his claims. That’s partly why it stands out.
Zika is not, in fact, a virus at all — it’s a type of mosquito born with the ability to spread it to humans. The virus is now carried by mosquitoes, which thrive in the tropical regions of the New World. The virus is not an infectious agent — it is the mosquito’s host. It is transmitted to people only by blood-s