Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anti-science may also equate to Death!

Caught a link off of CNN, a talk by Michael Specter is a staff writer at The New Yorker and the author of "Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet and Threatens our Lives.". I haven't read his book, yet, but the talk was certainly interesting. It meshes well with what I have been thinking and provides grist for the mill.

I hadn't really thought about one of the reasons behind the anti-vaccination 'movement', but it really does fit all to well with one of the worst parts of human nature. It's easy to deny what isn't in your face. It sounds silly expressed that way, but it happens all the time. how often have you heard "What have you done for me lately?" I was living in Las Vegas back in the 80's. One year we had severe flooding, including the basement of one of the larger hotels on the Strip flooding. I had 6 inches of water going down the middle of my street. At the time everyone was all up in arms over flood control . . . but when the time came for devoting resources toward it -- summer had come, the ground was dry, and the immediate threat of flooding was gone. Needless to say you know what happened, little money for flood control. You have no idea how often I heard someone say "We're in the desert, it doesn't flood in the desert!" What annoyed me was some of those same folks were whining just a few months ago about the water.

Diseases like polio, measles, and rubella are nearly non-existent here in the US. So it makes it easy for people to ignore the evidence, ignore the facts, and ignore the science and believe anecdotes, fairy tales, and utter nonsense. It also explains many peoples' reluctance to understand the theory of Evolution. It's not something you can easily see and understand without considerable scholarship. It's easy to fall prey to careful marketing, appeals to authority, and lies! But it's not just a matter of personal choice, its impact goes far beyond individual opinion. One of the things I had learned years ago I had forgotten. A vaccination program is only as good as the numbers of people who receive the vaccination. If the percentage falls to low, these diseases we haven't faced in more than a generation will be back. Our medical knowledge isn't perfect, but it's certainly light years beyond where we were 50 years ago!

What annoys me more than anything is not just how easily some folks fall for the marketing, but their complete inability to realize how they are being used. Their fears are being preyed upon! That's exactly what is happening when someone tells you that it's either Science or Religion. When they tell you they 'have a theory' or that 'acceptance of science is the same thing as belief in a religion'. When you swallow Jenn McCarthy's line, or the crap flowing from the Discovery Institute, or fail to see how funny Ken Ham's pseudo-belief system is, you are not just exercising your right to think what you wish, but you are impacting the health and welfare of the people around you. When you vote pseudo-science into the classroom, you are negatively impacting the education for the future!

Well you might take a view of his presentation and read the article associated with it. I'm going to take a look at his book the next time I am in the bookstore since it's not yet available as an e-book. Fear

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