Land of the Free, Home of the Afraid?
Let’s take a Loony quiz! Do you believe any of these statements are true? Global warming isn’t real. GMO food is the devil. Organic and all natural are better. Science is just a belief like religion. Evolution is just a theory, so other theories should be taught along side. Vaccines do — or can– cause serious health concerns. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you might be suffering from a lack of scientific understanding, but don’t worry you’re not alone.
It may [or may not] be well known that I am an American [apologizes to anyone I offend for saying that]. We are known — on occasion– for our backwards thinking. Of course, the young earth model isn’t uniquely American [thank you!], but it does have a largely American following. America was once known for it’s innovation and while the American dream wasn’t uniquely American either, it spurred our creativity.
Lately it seems like we are scared of our own shadow. I don’t want to say we’ve taken a complete 180, but everywhere I look it seems like some political figure is trying to argue that science isn’t real. Or my personal favorite, that there is some sort of scientific controversy about well established facts.
People fear change, I guess it should be expected. The only people benefiting from the “controversy” are the people manufacturing it for their personal benefit.
Vaccine controversy? The man who lied, potentially [if the study was even really performed as it was written] abused children and didn’t disclose he was being paid large sums of money from a lawyer who wanted to sue vaccine companies. Obviously he made large sums of money for a manufactured concern. He also was producing an alternative vaccine that was “safe” to use. Which was to be released for use alongside the study. Vaccines do not cause autism, instead of believing the lies science is trying to find the truth.
Global warming controversy? Again, no controversy. Almost all scientists agree with two facts, the first is that global warming is a very real thing. The second is that global warming is being caused by us humans.
Meanwhile, House republicans pass an amendment to a funding bill, which does not allow the DOD [department of defence] to spend money researching global warming impacts as part of national security. So again, it is the people screaming “controversy”, that benefit from something they are manufacturing.
Organic and all natural is the best choice? Well first consider the lack of evidence. The idea that organic [which in chemistry means carbon based, so I would love to see a non carbon based food…] is better has not only never been proven, there are studies showing there is no difference [for plenty good reason].
As far as all natural, there is problems with that idea too. Arsenic, poop, mercury, polio, all natural. It doesn’t make any of it good for you. Fun fact arsenic and mercury are in foods we eat, vegetables, fruits, and fish in particular. It’s an environment thing and we can’t do anything about it. So the only people benefiting from this controversy are the people making it.
My personal favorite, GMO. Genetically modified food has been around forever. Nature does it all the time. Farmers breed crops for traits that make for better yields. But somehow when we do it in a lab, it’s a bad thing. Golden rice, a rice designed by geneticists to produce vitamin A [vitamin A deficiency is a very serious problem for poorer, less developed countries] was met with the same horror and disgust you would expect reserved for supporters of the holocaust and the like.
The people suffering don’t even get a say in what they want. Yet other countries and in particular, organisations are trying to do the talking for them. Sure monsanto may be the root of all evil, but that is the company’s fault, not the technology’s. Anything, be it government or food, can be used for good or evil. It doesn’t make it inherently evil because it can be used in that manner.
Maybe it isn’t America, maybe the world as a whole is slowly going crazy, bad-mouthing the science that allows them to be heard to begin with. Controversy allows the people at the top to spread fear and confusion, all while making a profit, that will never stop. The only thing we can do is stand together and hopefully, not tell people what to think, but just teach them how to think.
It is a tactic that has been used for centuries, if you cannot beat the claims, you try to discredit the person [or in this case science as a whole] making the claims. There is no magic to science, science is just a way to — in the most subjective way possible– look at the world.
If science makes a claim, it is built upon facts. When something unsound comes from science, like the autism-vaccination claim, the scientific community was there to make sure that it was accurate. The process isn’t perfect, or particularly quick in certain cases, but in the end the truth came out.
We need a generation of critical, scientifically literate, people. We need it not just for the sake of America, but for the sake of the world. We will never go to Mars, or explore the universe, we will never make contact with alien life [which almost certainly exists in the scope of the ever growing universe] if we do not have people smart enough to solve the problems we need to solve in order to get there.
Like any scientist, I want to explore. The universe is too expansive to not want to figure out how it works. Imagine all the cool and amazing things that we will be able to do. Travel to other worlds, outside of our own universe. Maybe even teleportation or light speed travel. Things so crazy, so advanced, I can’t even imagine them.
But that is the point, without science –without that sense of exploration– not only can we not imagine them, they will never come to be by the people who can.
Lovejoy S. (2014). Scaling fluctuation analysis and statistical hypothesis testing of anthropogenic warming, Climate Dynamics, 41 (9-10) 2339-2351. DOI: 10.1007/s00382-014-2128-2
Taylor L.E. (2014). Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies
, Vaccine , DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.085
McFadden B.R. & Lusk J.L. (2014). Cognitive Biases in the Assimilation of Scientific Information on Global Warming and Genetically Modified Food, Research in Agricultural and applied economics, DOI: purl.umn.edu/162532