6 February 2015
Just when you think that basic denial of science could not get any more ridiculous, we have a week when a U.S. Senator questions hand washing laws in restaurants, and life saving vaccinations becomes a campaign issue among presidential candidates. We can only hope that this era of anti-science is at its peak and will get better soon.
I’ve been interested in the psychology of this type of behavior for a long while, and there’s a very good piece on National Geographic’s website that’s well worth a read. It was written by Joel Achenbach and it goes in-depth into how a person’s political worldview can so skew their thought process, that they will discount something for which there is an overwhelming about of solid evidence. A hat tip for this to Dr. Marshall Shepherd (Dr. Shepherd is past President of the AMS and hosts WX Geeks on The Weather Channel). Dr. Shepherd (who is an expert in atmospheric science) can certainly relate to this, having been told by people (who didn’t finish high school?) that he’s all wrong about climate change.
The title of the Nat. Geo. piece is “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science”. I think it should have the word “otherwise” after “many”. There is nothing more reasonable than scientific method, and it should rank as mankind’s greatest invention ever. People (and politicians) who are comfortable with pronouncing the results of well accepted science wrong, will almost always end up being embarrassingly wrong and laughed at. The piece below, however, explains why they will probably not realize it.
The Nat Geo piece is HERE.