By Dave B.
We have a problem. The problem is that, despite overwhelming evidence, more and more people insist on believing things that are demonstrably false. This problem manifests itself in people not believing in science, but I believe that the root cause is that people no longer believe in people.
Although it’s rarely talked about, scientific inquiry is essentially a humanistic endeavor. Even more fundamental than the scientific method, scientific inquiry requires a belief that people can learn about the environments that they inhabit, and this requires a belief in human agency or that a person can influence the trajectory of their own life. Among those without a belief in human agency, the products of the human mind will always be suspect.
I’m not saying that people must believe in individual human agency or science or anything else. What I AM saying, however, is that someone who doesn’t accept equally strong evidence about one area of science, but does about another, isn’t demonstrating their own individuality, but the exact opposite: a slavish devotion to their tribal identifiers.
Someone doesn’t believe in the human impact on climate change? Ok. Think GMOs are inherently bad? Alright. Against vaccines, pasteurization, modern medicine? Do what you gotta do, if the consequences only impact you (which they rarely do). But one looks like a hypocrite when they condemn someone for using the same anti-humanistic “reasoning” as they themselves use on a different issue. Further, people are likely being influenced by cultural pressures instead of scientific evidence, both for what science they don’t accept, as well the science that they do.
I’ve been debating with myself what to do with my Science page on this blog. I decided that one of the things that I will do is a series of thought pieces on what the world would look like without some of the advances that have been made through scientific inquiry. So, I’ll look at a world without vaccines, one without GMOs, one without pasteurization, etc. I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about their beliefs. That’s a waste of time. But it’s my hope that readers will at least consider some of the potential consequences of the world being more like they claim they want.