Science Denialism

Is there any real solution to this type of phenomenon? I can understand scepticism, but it’s a different story when people are forced to exit the academic field for their research, because of the collective idiocy.

Usually when two non-experts argue on a topic they’d demand evidence after someone claims something. Think about it. You don’t have the time for that right? Sure, you can tell your opponent the key points that support your claim, but they don’t care. This is not a discussion anymore, but rather just two people sharing their side of view, without accepting or taking into account their evidence. It would require way too much time for many. It’s so much easier, to just say what you think and be done with it. Learning is a very demanding process, so it’s funny that those people more often or not portray themselves as knowing the truth. In reality it’s just a shared, moral code that everyone shares out of comfort. He said it, she said it, they said it. Everyone thinks like me!

What accelerates this problem is the fact that artificial intelligence will connect you with more people who think alike and obviously present content that cater to your beliefs. You can now live in a bubble, without even noticing it.

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I really get annoyed when I hear people say, “I believe in the Science.” There is no such thing as “the Science.” Science is a way of investigating the world around us objectively and with no preconceived notions. People have trouble doing that. It means to observe some phenomenon, create a hypothesis to explain it, test that theory to see if it is right or wrong. The problem is most people have their pet beliefs and scientists are no better. Especially when they have a great theory that seems so beautiful and right and they tend to ignore any results that might conflict. Also, the “older and wiser” heads of research departments tend not to prefer theories that run counter to established scholarship.

Darwin’s original Theory of Evolution was wrong in that there was much that it did not cover. It has been heavily modified over time and is now well established. But, it is still a theory. Theories are not proved, they fail to get disproved. No matter how many experts say something, it doesn’t mean they are always right. Consensus is for politics, not science.

Today’s theories tend to be based on obscure detail, arcane statistical measurements and variable interpretation. It is hard to know which are accurate and which are so much used bovine fodder.

Now the concern @Cringe makes about living in an echo chamber is real. If you spend all your time listening to people who think and speak the way you do, you start to think that it is the only way that should be allowed. That’s when dangerous attitudes creep in. I don’t like Trump, but not everything he said was wrong. I don’t like Biden, but not everything he says is right. (Actually, I don’t like most politicians.) Some of the issues are personal preference. How much liberty should we give up for mask mandates and vaccine requirements before enough is enough? Same with the useless TSA, that just celebrated 20 years of hassling Americans.

It’s not science denialism when the facts aren’t all in. We are still learning much about how COVID infects people, how it’s transmitted, how to prevent and cure it. But everyone wants to tell us what to do. Dr. Fauci has a proven record of lying to the public. Why should anyone believe him now? As for sexual matters, so much is conjecture and opinion. It is not a field where you can make measurements or get unambiguous data.

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There are people who specialize in science communication but the language they’d opt to use is probably not going to bring in the big bucks. Science communication is a really important thing that is often overlooked.

Just as the woke are the new Inquisitors, scientists are the new priests, who interpret things the thing that they want to and only tell the interpretations to their followers, as opposed to the source material.

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When science gets into public debate, there are many issues that really are matters of values or strategy and come down to politicians, rather than the scientists themselves. Scientists who work for the government to some extent get told what to say when big public issues emerge, and if they don’t like it, they have the choice of trying to change the ideas from within or resigning as whistleblowers. Anthony Fauci had at least three big problems in trying to cope with Covid: 1) he was under pressure from politicians, especially Donald Trump, to say things and go along with things he disagreed with, and he decided to hang in there and sweat it out; 2) he was sold out to a brand of medical gatekeeping, derived from ‘what causes this cancer’ litigation, that was overly pitched toward being skeptical of new, incoming problems featuring things that were not yet proven (like aerosol transmission); and 3) he had another political hand tied back by the nationalist economics of providing test kits, so the first round of tests he had to work with had unique problems that couldn’t just be solved by buying a better kit. When he apparently lied to say masks were not necessary or useful, he was partly politicking, trying to corral masks for health care workers, but he was also inertially skeptical, believing that the public wouldn’t be able to make mask use effective.

I was once in a similar dilemma myself: I worked at a gay newspaper at the time AIDS first popped up, and in part because of my microbiological background, I could immediately see that we must be up against something like a retrovirus (HTLV-1 was a hot topic at the time) that was only viable if transmitted in the most protected of pathways, such as anal sex. On the other hand, one thing that would have taken a long time to occur to me - luckily other people got there quickly - was the idea that gay men could get around this problem by wearing condoms. I mean, in those days, they were only for sleazy straights, right? No gay man had ever worn one unless he had a fetish for them. And they were only partly reliable at best - one of my friends had fathered two children while wearing them (his wife was nervous about the Pill). So I understand Anthony’s short-sightedness about masks, and though I think his actions were somewhat tipped by the convenience of needing to monopolize the existing masks for the med staff, he probably sincerely thought they wouldn’t do the public much good. And indeed, the public still half consists of people who have no idea a mask isn’t a mask if it sags under their nose. But at least the people with acumen can defend themselves based on better advice that came along shortly afterward. Then again, politics enters in because what he really should have done, medically, was to demand that N95 masks and respirators be manufactured on an emergency basis for widespread public use. Surgical masks loosely affixed with ear loops were already known not to cut it for Covid inhalation protection, even though they were okay at catching outgoing droplets. But of course, he couldn’t tell that orange bozo that he needed to get some wartime mask munitions factories going, pronto.

So most of your science failures are science politics failures rather than problems with science. But anyone in any profession can be short-sighted about one topic or another, as I was about the condoms.

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