Medical Facts

PaxlovidI’ve become a bit concerned on hearing reports of medical professionals not prescribing paxlovid for Covid so that when I saw my doctor recently I asked him whether he was prescribing it. I was pretty sure that he was because in all the years that I’ve been seeing his predecessor and now him, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that their practice keeps up to date on the latest and best medical discoveries and practices. In the event I was correct. He said that they have been prescribing paxlovid, and we discussed the possible side effects (metallic taste) and drug interactions (probably none with my current drugs).

But, he added, it’s still best to try to avoid Covid altogether. And I assured him that I still wear a mask when I’m around people.

Which is all a prelude to a disturbing but not too surprising study that reported that people, and yes, even physicians, are letting their partisan views control their perception of scientific evidence differently.

Here is the abstract:

In the United States, liberals and conservatives disagree about facts. To what extent does expertise attenuate these disagreements? To study this question, we compare the polarization of beliefs about COVID-19 treatments among laypeople and critical care physicians. We find that political ideology predicts both groups’ beliefs about a range of COVID-19 treatments. These associations persist after controlling for a rich set of covariates, including local politics. We study two potential explanations: a) that partisans are exposed to different information and b) that they interpret the same information in different ways, finding evidence for both. Polarization is driven by preferences for partisan cable news but not by exposure to scientific research. Using a set of embedded experiments, we demonstrate that partisans perceive scientific evidence differently when it pertains to a politicized treatment (ivermectin), relative to when the treatment is not identified. These results highlight the extent to which political ideology is increasingly relevant for understanding beliefs, even among expert decision makers such as physicians.

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