As this blog is meant to discuss many things, not just astronomy and me lecturing you from my lectern of my Mac in my pyjamas, I thought I would share this video with you. For those of you who do not know about TED talks, they are worth a look. They are lectures given by some of the greatest minds of the world (not always, but generally) and you can spend a day, at least, perusing them and learning about anything and everything. Lucky I am telling you about these on a Friday, right? Now you have all weekend to watch TED talks as so many nerds before you have done. I am passing along this video which details societies growing denial of science and reason. From herbal remedies (the dangerous sort, where people really should be on real medicine) to anti-vaccinations and many more. This video mostly focuses on medicine and the environment. Have a look.
Michael Specter: The danger of science denial | Video on TED.com
He makes interesting points. He believes that we can 'innovate' our way out of the declining state of the Earth, but the main problem is that society has a growing trend against science. He states that the battle against science is something not seen since pre-Enlightenment. He makes a great point that the outspoken haters tend to be sort-of educated people who have just been presented with evidence that science can be bad. We can all think of examples. The problem is that now there is a culture of fear towards science. A horrible, terrifying example linked Autism to measles vaccines. This sent people through the roof, against further scientific evidence that there is no connection. Now the amount of people who get measles vaccines are going down. There is a lack of 'causation and correlation'.
He even criticises societies turn towards herbal remedies. There is a lot of evidence that none of these work, but he does not blame society for this, he blames the health care system of America. There is, indeed, a problem when people turn to herbal remedies to cure their cancers or other serious problems. I tend to agree with this, but there is a bigger problem with this. Herbal remedies have turned people's minds against pharmaceutical research.
Big Pharma is evil. We all agree on that, but that does not mean that the outcomes of their research are always bad. Okay, so Big Pharma has a big problem with over-medicating stupid people by literally selling problems to people, then selling them the cure. So how do we respond to this? Educate yourselves! Do not blindly trust and do not blindly deny what people tell you. Scientists follow a strict code of progress with scepticism and you should as well. It is okay to be sceptical of scientists, because if they are worth half-a-salt, you will be able to follow their research just as carefully and see exactly what they did. That is what we need people to do.
You can read Michael Specter's articles in the New Yorker here.