Science denial has become something of an art form of late. The list of those taking up this mantle is both long, and, sadly predictable. Religious leaders are expected to be among the throng as many see science as a competing belief system but, not so fast, as Pope Francis, our newest and most progressive of Popes, is all about evolution and the big bang theory, as well as Climate Change. He does not seem to see any conflict with his faith in God that he understand and endorse modern scientific principles. But this is not the case with today’s elected officials in the United States.
The normal rant from the GOP is that scientists are wrong. often it is said that evolution and the Big Bang are notions proffered directly by Satan, while Climate Change is merely a hoax perpetrated by liberals and progressives clearly influenced by big money and, you guessed it, Satan.
The Climate Change issue is simple enough to figure out as the deep pockets political entities depend upon during election cycles are attached to pants, worn by leaders of big business. Leaders of big business in turn, do not wish to foot the bill to clean up their processing issues in their processing plants. So leaders of big business become the 5th dentist.
See, there are always 4 reliable, reasonable thinking, dentists that can be trusted to inform the general public of what we all know, sugar is bad for teeth. But somewhere, in the recesses of a cave in Borneo I presume, lies the 5th dentist. He is hungry and poor, having forsaken the world for the solitude of his cave. He needs desperately an influx of cash. Along comes a search party from the sugar lobby. They will pay handsomely if only he signs the forms advocating sugar and espousing with vigor the need of sugar in one’s diet to build enamel in teeth. And thus is born the pseudo-reliable dissenting opinion.
The right wing trots out this 5th dentist at a maniacal pace. At a pace, I am certain, that leaves him longing for his cave in Borneo. They do this because the right wing is under the impression that the world is much like a courtroom. And in this courtroom they feel if they disagree with your expert’s testimony that they can show their expert’s testimony and they cancel one another out like some Perry mason AHA! moment. The flaw is the experts do not go one for one in the real world as, on Climate Change at least, 97% is a tad greater than 3% in a wow, you have a whole crapload more scientists than I do kind of way.
Are sheer numbers enough to dissuade the right wing? Goodness no. They are quite willing to invent other arguments that do not involve the 5th dentist to support their views . Also, alas, he needs his rest.
Evolution for example. There is evidence to support evolution as science. Evidence supporting change within a system that is easily observable, if you take the time to observe. This then leads the right to trot out creation science. Now, believe as you will in creation as I am not interested in debating it here. But one immutable aspect of creation is that it is not science. Science is, by definition, “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” So you may gather up all the hermit dentists you like and still no one has observed or experimented with creation. No matter how you stretch and twist the definition of science, it remains not science.
The Big Bang Theory is one I am a little more flexible on as there remains the same weakness in a God creating all that is as there is in a large bang doing so. Both require that at some point something derived from nothing. I believe the flaw is not in our understanding, or lack thereof, in the beginning of time regardless of belief but more in a fundamental flaw of how we view time and existence. And as I have no evidence to support my belief except that I believe it, then I know it is not science and mostly keep it to myself.
I believe that most science denial is born of fear. Politicians fear big money will cease to support them and religious leaders believe science will contradict their faith. Both paths lead to the same podium to spout the same notions. Both paths lead to a cave in Borneo. A cave with a very exhausted, very put out, but now quite wealthy, dentist.