He’s grounded in humility and humanity; he uses plain language; he admits uncertainties and failings; and he refuses to make the science overtly political
@NLENTS, this is worth reading.
Anthony Fauci has been an extraordinary presence during the COVID-19 crisis: calm yet urgent, informative yet plain-spoken. Along the way, he’s doing something even more difficult than explaining COVID-19. He’s providing insight about the role of the scientific expert in a liberal democracy.
Today, more is required. To qualify as an expert is to meet the criteria for a special social role, and nowadays, having the requisite knowledge, ability and recognition is only part of what one needs. Credentials alone no longer make one credible.
This is where Fauci shines. He’s showing us how to be not just trustworthy but actually trusted.
The role is still fundamentally about providing accurate information. Fauci is fighting the outbreak with “the sledgehammer of truth,” as the Washington Post columnist Karen Tumulty put it—helping everyone to understand the real dimensions of the problem in spite of widespread misinformation and politics-driven fact-spinning.
But what makes him so helpful and credible has to do with how he provides the information, and what’s especially powerful about his approach is that he’s more or less the opposite of a sledgehammer. He is grounded in humility and humanity: he uses plain language; he admits uncertainties and failings; he seems to be at pains to say that he has a special perspective, “as a scientist,” rather than the only possibly useful view; he refuses to make the science overtly political; he is gracious and cautious when offering corrections.