What We Don’t Know about the Coronavirus

The New Yorker

“At moments of extreme scientific uncertainty, observation, usually treated as the poor relation of experiment and statistics in science, comes into its own.”

Currently understood mainly as a disease of the respiratory tract, Covid-19 is remarkably complex, with even the most experienced doctors struggling to understand the virus and its impacts. With effects including kidney failure, heart damage, and immune system overdrive, it will take months until a picture of the disease is clarified. Lorraine Daston’s Critical Enquiry essay “Ground-Zero Empiricism” is quoted in this article in The New Yorker on how observation is used in times of extreme scientific uncertainty, pointing out that the pandemic has us “back in the seventeenth century, the age of ground-zero empiricism, and observing as if our lives depended on it.”