Whatever their intent, protests aren't exempt from the laws of nature | TheHill

Whatever their intent, protests aren't exempt from the laws of nature | TheHill

Conservatives are often accused of being “science-deniers.” From mask-wearing to global warming, the right is often the punching bag for those who venerate scientific evidence. Yet recently we’ve seen that the left is equally willing to buy into questionable evidence, when it supports their cause of the moment. A study released last month on the effects of social justice protests on coronavirus infection rates appears to be emblematic of this. The study has been given attention across a broad spectrum of news outlets, from The Economist to the Los Angeles Times. It purports to show that the protests in America’s streets have had no impact on infection rates across more than 300 cities. The ostensible mechanism for this lack of case growth is that the protests led other people to socially distance more. By itself, this puts an asterisk on the findings. If fear or aversion to the protests led people to stay home, this doesn't actually mean that crowding together in demonstrations didn’t spread the virus, only that countervailing decisions mitigated the harm that might have been caused. But there are a number of far broader issues with the paper that deserve attention. First, the study attempts to compare a set of cities where protests took place to a control group of cities that experienced no protests. To the extent that cities a fair distance apart could be analyzed, this might be a valuable approach. But when one looks at the control cities, it is easy to find that some ...
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