National Geographic would have you believe that questioning concepts makes you a conspiratorial nut job. I say thank goodness for those who question the status quo rather than simply assume sheep position because someone says so.
Science has always attempted to secure the mantle of the last word. If something cannot be explained scientifically, it cannot be so. For the most part, it’s likely a defense mechanism. The very essence of science suggests being able to rationalize a concept through a repeatable process. However, when science cannot explain all facets on a concept, the explanation gets called into question.
It wasn’t always this way. Used to be that science could tell us what was happening without being able to explain the why. That was ok. Still happens all the time, yet now when we hear ‘consensus’, we’re supposed to stop thinking. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, science sold its soul and allowed politics into the equation. Now, lying under the auspice of a consensus opinion is simply part of doing business.
It’s no accident that 3 of the examples NatGeo put on its cover are current political issues. Climate change, vaccinations and GMO’s are all being debated in town halls and courtrooms across America as much as in science labs.
Look at the suggestion from the article headline.
The obvious implication being that if you doubt science, you are unreasonable. If you really were reasonable, you would simply accept the opinion of experts at face value. After all, who are you to question when you’re the novice? Speaking for myself, I utilize a little common sense mixed in with some experience and a healthy dose of skepticism whenever I’m told this is the way it is and that’s that. If that makes me an unreasonable kook, then so be it.
The article opens with a defense of public water supply fluoridation. What’s the first thing it attempts to do? Tie in questioning fluoridation with a movie comedy. Even the title sounds kooky. Dr. Strangelove. Question it and you are kook.
The movie came out in 1964, by which time the health benefits of fluoridation had been thoroughly established, and antifluoridation conspiracy theories could be the stuff of comedy. So you might be surprised to learn that, half a century later, fluoridation continues to incite fear and paranoia. In 2013 citizens in Portland, Oregon, one of only a few major American cities that don’t fluoridate their water, blocked a plan by local officials to do so. Opponents didn’t like the idea of the government adding “chemicals” to their water. They claimed that fluoride could be harmful to human health.
Actually fluoride is a natural mineral that, in the weak concentrations used in public drinking water systems, hardens tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay—a cheap and safe way to improve dental health for everyone, rich or poor, conscientious brusher or not. That’s the scientific and medical consensus.
Unfortunately, this is where the lie is slipped in unnoticed by the novice. The fluoride utilized in public water supplies is not the pharmaceutical grade, naturally occurring mineral referenced. Instead, fluorosilicic acid is what is commonly used. It’s a waste product of the fertilizer industry that is categorized as toxic waste. This is why there is opposition to fluoridation. It creates health issues after chronic or long-term use. The only reason it is used as opposed to pharmaceutical grade fluoride is the cost factor.
I work in the water industry and I see the effects of fluorosilicic acid firsthand. It is a corrosive chemical with an impressive warning list on the label. I see the effect it has on equipment and watch it etch concrete and glass and eat through rebar. if it can do that to concrete, steel and glass, what do you suppose it’s doing to our bodies over a lifetime even if it’s in the ‘weak’ concentration the article points out?
Controlling the terminology is the first step in framing the debate. Scientists are learning this the hard way as they made that mistake with global warming. When the inconvenient fact of winter just wouldn’t go away as advertised, they changed the term to climate change so they could account for any weather related change. But for many, it was too late. The genie was already out of the bottle.
Any rational person would tell you that there are a great many factors that go in to climate change. That it is very real as our climate is always changing as it goes through its cycles. That humans absolutely must have an effect on the world’s climate. Yet we have problems when the scientist alarmists make their proclamations that come and go without the advertised catastrophic effects. Yell fire in a crowded movie theater enough times without an actual fire and eventually the patrons just tell you to shut up and watch the movie.
There is a common theme behind all of these war on science topics that the article doesn’t address. The almighty buck. Do you suppose it’s a coincidence that big business is behind defending the science? You know, when scientists tell us the temperature of the sun or far away it is, there is no real debate. It isn’t called into question because there isn’t an industry behind it making money.
Climate change, vaccinations, GMO’s, fluoridation, etc., etc. have money making industry drivers. Not that it means the topic automatically is hooey, just that profits cloud the results and the intentions. We all know vaccinations work. Does that mean they work in all cases or that there may be harmful side effects? It’s when questions lead to shunning a product is when science is usually trotted out to allay our fears and keep the cash registers ringing.
Is that a war on science? Or is it concerns about your health and your wallet? The money war goes both ways. Industries which aren’t profiting from things such as climate change fund lobbyists because of the burden on the cost of doing business.
It reminds one of the epic battle industry engaged in when the nation was still in the infancy of establishing the power grid. The battle was between AC and DC, or alternating current and direct current. It was a public relations battle with scientists giving public displays as to which was safer for the public. Tesla favored AC and Edison backed DC. At the center of the debate was the consumer dollar. And science played a key role in convincing the public. History shows us that what finally settled the debate was that AC could deliver electricity cheaper than DC. End of story.
The safety of the public was key in the public relations debate and science was used as the final word. Much as it is today in what the National Geographic coins a war on science. But what they’re really after is what’s in your wallet. I guess that makes me an unreasonable doubter. Industry knows Americans are penny wise and pound foolish. We may watch the few bucks we have in our wallet closely, but we’re willing to give away the house for the greater good if the experts tell us to.