Love the Tech, Hate the Science?
So I'm not sure this is a trend as this is something that has been plaguing humanity for centuries. However the advent of instantaneous communications (and with it the democratization of content development and distribution) seems to have exacerbated the issue beyond just the high borne disagreements between religious authorities and a few learned Renaissance men. We saw it when Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) rolled a snowball down the Senate Chamber aisle to prove that climate change didn't exist. Or when anti-vaccers became a force to be reckoned with across social media despite their fundamental research being discredited. Or when medieval and unarguably evil organizations like ISIS, use high tech hacking techniques to acquire US military and government official's personal information for nefarious purposes. Haven't heard about this? Take a look at this link:
Should this bother us? after all it has been a tradition of sorts to at first reject or ridicule anything that countered long held beliefs. But this I believe is different because what we see here is the adoption of technology but the rejection of the science that makes it possible. It made no difference to the average citizen of Florence or Rome if the earth went around the sun or not. But set the calendar ahead a few days to match the astronomical date and you had rioters screaming for the lost eleven days of their lives.
The mad scientist has been a caricature since Mary Shelley, but today instead of pitchforks and torches, politicians, religious leaders, activists from all sides are using technology to organize and spread their denial of science to the masses. Climate change may be the poster child of this effort. No problem using sophisticated software to get a weather forecast for the weekend but if that same science points to man made climate change, then dump it - the 96+% scientists who say it's real are just wrong, or worse have some sort of perverse agenda. Cutting-edge treatments for your medical condition. Fine but don't tell me it's based on evolutionary biology because that's just the devil's work. And BTW, we want to cut your funding because your premise conflicts with our beliefs. GMOs? The whole industry is evil. Never mind that we've been genetically modifying crops and animals for years or that we've managed to increase yields to the point where the yearly devastating famines that were so prevalent around the world are pretty much a thing of the past.
It's the spread of these anti-science, black or white positions that disturbs me the most. As with my first post on fake news, fake science is now competing with real science for the hearts and minds of the public. I wouldn't care so much but for the fact that a fair amount of that public gets to vote. The same folks who hold In Search of the Ancient Aliens to be truthful or the Kentucky Noah's Ark attraction to be historically accurate also get to vote into office the likes of Georgia's former Congressman Paul Broun (who by the way sat on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee) who famously stated in 2012 that "Evolution is a lie from the pit of Hell." Btw, he is also an MD. So it goes to show you that you don't have to be uneducated to be a Luddite. Thank goodness for the likes of Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. They may be the last bulwark against the mob armed with pitchforks and iPhone's. Especially if we see funding cut from STEM schools in the next four years.
Postscript. On Friday night's Bill Maher HBO show he also bemoaned the lack of belief in basic science and the current anti-intellectualism that seems to be in vogue among many. how ever he also dissed Russian dashcam videos as part of the problem. Russian dashcam videos are pretty cool and if anything, they teach you to always drive defensively and maybe take public transportation when in Moscow.