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It really has to stop: Why virologist Christian Drosten threatens the media
"It is not science that makes decisions, but politics. And the whole thing is very difficult trade-offs. And that science would be overwhelmed first of all to make decisions. Because science only generates data and can say how safe this data is are and can also say where safety ends, but no more. If you add that science can also try to explain to a broad, open-minded and interested section of the population. That's what scientists are doing at the moment also do a lot of things, and unfortunately they are then oversubscribed ", says Christian Drosten in the current NDR info podcast" Coronavirus Update, Episode 24 ".
This is where the currently popular head virologist at the Berlin Charité begins with his media criticism: "There are newspapers that now paint not only in words but in pictures, caricatures by virologists. I see myself drawn as a comic figure and myself I'm really mad at the way people are being abused here for a picture that the media wants to draw in order to contrast. This really has to stop. "
It is one of the reasons why, for example, he avoided giving any interviews or showing himself on television in the last week, says Drosten in a conversation with NDR-Info science editor Anja Martini. Drosten has the feeling "that in the meantime the visual image of scientists is also being covered with projections that do not even exist and that things are attached to scientists, including me, of course, but also other scientists, that are not quite right". Drosten reports on an email in which he was held responsible for the suicide of the Hessian finance minister. "When things like this happen, for me it is a signal, not that we are close to the limit, but that we have long been beyond a line of reason in this media-led public debate. And I have slowly got over it really a problem. "
The media continued to produce the image of the decision-making scientist, although politics and science would clearly say who makes the decisions: politics. Drosten's clear warning: "We are slowly at a point where science will soon have to retreat in an orderly manner if that doesn't stop."
Science has no democratic mandate. A scientist is not a politician, he has not been elected and he does not have to resign. No scientist wants to say things like: This political decision was the right one. Or this political decision that was wrong. Or this political decision that must now be made next. "You don't hear that from anyone
serious scientist, "emphasizes Drosten.
And the virologist clarifies something at NDR Info: "There really is no rivalry or competition between scientific disciplines here in Germany. Even if it is sometimes portrayed that way in the media. So sometimes it's actually like that, people ask, and it starts in some talk shows, where people are deliberately put next to each other who you hope will fight each other because they come from different scientific subjects. Fortunately, that doesn't happen. Because scientists are generally very reflective at the moment, one has to say. "
Exactly this exaggeration, still wanting to provoke a conflict that does not exist at all, shows for Dorsten that "we are still doing pretty well socially". He feels more and more uncomfortable with this development: "Because one thing is also clear, this level of well-being in society will not stay that way over the next few weeks. We in Germany too, and I very much hope that we will not be overwhelmed, but even if we do the stress in the medical system goes to this limit, it has so many secondary effects. It also has so many secondary effects in society. "
Drosten therefore calls on the media to be aware of their responsibility. And the scientist also explains in the current coronavirus update episode which personal conflict he is in: He does not have to expose himself in public or be exposed: "I don't need that - there is no measure of success in science, in the form of podcasts or Twitter followers. On the contrary, it is dangerous for a scientist. It can really damage your career to be too public. Because in public you have to simplify and simplify things. That doesn't really suit a scientist Well, I'm going to do it anyway because I've been working in precisely this narrow field of research for so long that I know that I can speak freely and largely without errors about the other issues surrounding this problem. Otherwise I would anyway don't do it if I didn't really feel so sure about this exact subject, the subject of epidemic coronaviruses I wouldn't even dare to do it with this intensity in the field of influenza. That is still not understood. And I find that very difficult. "
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