The Age of Disbelief

April 9, 2015

My wife is one of those people who if something doesn’t sound logical it must not be true. For example she absolutely refuses to believe in statistics of any form. I on the other hand have a very scientific nature. I am always trying to look at things for different angles. That is a basic difference between us and a very basic difference between many of us in the U.S.  It is nothing new.. Below is an excerpt from an article from National Geographic about this phenomenon.

2015-03-21_13-57-06The world crackles with real and imaginary hazards, and distinguishing the former from the latter isn’t easy. Should we be afraid that the Ebola virus, which is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids, will mutate into an airborne superplague? The scientific consensus says that’s extremely unlikely: No virus has ever been observed to completely change its mode of transmission in humans, and there’s zero evidence that the latest strain of Ebola is any different. But type “airborne Ebola” into an Internet search engine, and you’ll enter a dystopia where this virus has almost supernatural powers, including the power to kill us all.

In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle that’s what science is for. “Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science,the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.” But that method doesn’t come naturally to most of us. And so we run into trouble, again and again….

The trouble goes way back, of course. The scientific method leads us to truths that are less than self-evident, often mind-blowing, and sometimes hard to swallow. In the early 17th century, when Galileo claimed that the Earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun, he wasn’t just rejecting church doctrine. He was asking people to believe something that defied common sense—because it sure looks like the sun’s going around the Earth, and you can’t feel the Earth spinning. Galileo was put on trial and forced to recant.

SOURCE: Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? – National Geographic Magazine.

Accepting things that don’t seem logical is difficult for many of us. Who would have believed even twenty years ago that we could put the entire Christian Bible on something smaller than the head of a pin? But that is commonly accepted fact, even though not really understood, today. I am a very techie type person but the things I have seen in my lifetime even astounds me.  Being a scientist I thoroughly appreciate scientific method as being a process and not a body of facts. It is a way to get at the truth and not the truth itself.

There are many around today that doubt almost everything about science but have no problem using the things that science has provided them. I believe a big part of this doubt come from those who cling to a literal interpretations of the religious documents. Much of what they see in those documents has been discounted by science. That is a direct threat to them so they stubbornly refuse to believe anything science shows.

Another big problem for many is that they don’t take the time to learn much of the “scientific discovery” they see is just our 24 hour media outlets trying to find something to report.  They find a small article income obscure place that come to an outrageous conclusion and then report it as fact. It takes work to determine what is valid science and what is bogus. Neither the news media nor many of us bother to discern the difference.

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