At some point science did prove that smoking does cause lung cancer, but deniers and tobacco companies went on huge PR exercises to deny this.
Today, science does prove that fossil fuels are responsible to global warming, but we still have governments that spends billions of rands building coal power stations.
Despite experiencing water shortages [Cape Town’s Day Zero Water Crisis], extreme hottest year ever, wildfires, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc there are still those who doubt that the threat of climate change is real.
At some point there were leaders who denied the existence of COVID-19 pandemic, saying it is a conspiracy, or that a shot of vodka will cure the virus.
There are some who believe that it is 5G technology that causes the virus and if we destroy 5G technology, all our virus problems will go aways.
Science is up against deniers.
Over the last few decades, there has been a consistent campaign to sow confusion around vaccines and climate change.
In all two areas, we all have access to far more data, far more certainty and endless amounts of proof that the original theories have held up.
The data is more accurate than it has ever been. Vaccines are not the cause of autism and save millions of kids’ [and parents’] lives. And the world is, in fact, getting dangerously warmer.
Poll after poll in many parts of the world show that people are equivocating or outright denying all two.
Unlike the increasingly asymptotic consistency in scientific explanations, the deniers have an endless list of reasons for their confusion, many of which contradict each other.
Confusion does not need to be right to be confusing.
Worth noting that this response does not happen around things that are far more complicated or scientifically controversial [like gravity, string theory and dark matter].
It is the combination of visceral impact and tribal cohesion that drives the desire to deny.
Cigarette companies were among the original denialists [they claimed that cigarettes were unrelated to lung cancer, but that did not work out very well for them), and much of their confusion playbook is being used on these new topics.
To what end?
Confusion might help some industries or causes in the short run, but where does it lead?
Working to turn facts into political issues does not make them any less true.
If this growing cohort of deniers ‘wins’, what do they get?
In a post-science world, where physics and testable facts are always open to the layman’s opinion in the moment, how are things better?
When we reduce science to a matter of lay people’s opinion instead of proven and testable facts, what is the end game?
How does one develop a new antibiotic without an understanding of speciation and disease resistance?
I know what the science p.o.v. gets us if it prevails, if vaccines become ever safer and widespread, if governments and companies begin to prepare for worldwide weather change.
When science wins we manage to deal with the deadly 1918 Spanish Flu, we manage to deal with Ebola, we are able to contain HIV/Aids and make it a chronic ailment instead of deadly virus, with science we manage to put people on chemo and heal them.
I know what we will get when science prevails, what is a mystery is what the anti-science confusors get if they prevail.
What happens when we don’t raise the next generation of scientists, when vaccines become politically and economically untenable, when we close our eyes and simply rebuild houses on the floodplain again?
The thing is gravity does not care if you believe in it, neither does lung cancer.
It is okay if you chose not to take the vaccines, you have a right to your freedom of choice, but whatever you do or say, just don’t get virus. Just make sure you don’t get the virus, because if you do, it will change everything.
Image by Jeyaratnam Caniceus