Scott Siskind has a long post on Ivermectin that I find fascinating and important. The basic story is this:
Early in the Covid pandemic, doctors and hospitals around the world tried all sorts of treatments, and when one of them seemed promising, many tried running small experimental trials. This was, I think, a very impressive expression of the extent of scientific prowess in the world, as hospitals from Bangladesh to Colombia experimented with different treatment regimens and published their results. Of course most of those trials were not very good, because they were necessarily small and conducted in the midst of a pandemic that was stretching hospitals to their limits. But people tried.
One finding that emerged from those trials was that Ivermectin, a common treatment for roundworm and other parasites, seemed to have a positive effect against Covid-19. Siskind goes through all of these trials and finds that while a few were fraudulent and most were bad, some were pretty good, really as good as one could expect under the circumstances. The three best to show positive results were from Bangladesh, India, and Colombia.
So word started to circulate on the Internet that Ivermectin was an effective treatment for Covid-19. The WHO and the US CDC denounced this and said it was nonsense, but they did not offer any rebutting evidence beyond "that's a treatment for worms, why would it effect a virus?" Neither the WHO nor the CDC was exactly covering itself with glory back then, what with the reversals over masking and quarantines and so on. So around the world people started dosing themselves with Ivermectin against Covid.
Here's the first important question: what does it mean to "trust the science"? Does that mean "listen to the CDC", which had already reversed itself on every important Covid-related question? Or does it mean "believe these two dozen studies from around the world that show Ivermectin is effective"? Another factor that played into this, in the US, was suspicion of pharmaceutical companies, everybody suspecting that they wanted Ivermectin downplayed because it is off-patent and very cheap. If you pretended to own a horse you could even get it without a prescription. This was a case where if you "did your own research", early in the pandemic, you would genuinely have found that the large majority of the available studies flatly contradicted the advice that the CDC and the WHO were giving.
This stirred the western medical establishment to investigate, and this summer we got the results of two larger, more rigorous trials, one in Canada and one in Argentina, that found no effect. But by that point belief in the efficacy of Ivermectin was already entrenched in the folk culture and the debate over it had become a political mud-slinging match.
Science is hard, and when it become tangled with politics it gets even harder. People believe in a vast number of questionable medical practices partly because the establishment is wrong all the time, and because, occasionally, offbeat remedies really do outperform what the establishment doctors are pushing. Slogans like "trust the science" just don't capture the complexity of the world. If you want a serious look at that complexity, read Siskind's post.
Incidentally, if you are wondering why those studies about Ivermectin found positive effects, look at where they were carried out: Bangladesh, India, and Colombia, all countries where roundworms are a serious problem. If you get really sick with Covid-19 they give you steroids to depress parts of your immune system. If you happen to be infected with roundworms or some other parasite, that can cause them to explode, giving you a "hyperinfection" that can kill you. If you dig deep enough into obscure parts of the Covid-19 guidance provided by the WHO you find that they actually recommend giving Covid patients with roundworm infections Ivermectin to prevent this. So co-infection with worms might explain why Ivermectin seems to help in the tropics but not in Canada or Argentina.