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Thu Aug 12, 2021, 06:45 PM

Refuse the vaccine, but go to the hospital when sick? This is how Americans treat science.

They treat science like they treat religion.

Note how I phrased that. I didn't say they treat science as a religion. Rather, they treat science the way they treat their religious denomination - like a buffet.

If you were to poll American Catholics, you'd find a wide range of opinions regarding divorce, birth control, priestly celibacy, the role of women in the church, Papal infallibility, and even core doctrines like transubstantiation. In some cases, it might even be a majority who disagree with the official church position. And these are people who attend Mass and take part in the sacraments.

It's like a buffet meal - I'll take some of the roast beef and green bean casserole, but not the beets.

(I chose Catholicism not because it's the best example, but because it's the example I know best. I was raised Catholic. My wife doesn't eat bacon, but not because she's Jewish. It's because she's a vegetarian. The rest of her family is perfectly happy to eat it.)

I understood this after listening to a friend of mine in grad school discuss a conversation he'd had with a young-earth creationist. The creationist claimed that radiometric dating can't be trusted because we don't know if rates of radioactive decay are constant over time. "OK," my friend said, "then why do nuclear power plants work?" Because it turns out every nuclear plant, whether generating power for neighborhoods or a submarine, relies on the constant output of energy from a supply of nuclear material - and that output is constant because the nuclear material is decaying at a constant rate. It's the same physics. If one doesn't work, neither should the other.

This left the creationist baffled.

People don't realize that scientific concepts don't exist in a vacuum. I've heard people say that the fossil record can't be used to support the theory of evolution, even though the petroleum companies that fueled their cars spent millions on its use to find oil and gas reserves. And they used it for the same reason evolutionary biologists do - it's a predictive tool.

It's one thing to draw a line with religious belief to accommodate other values, experiences, or modernity. It's another to do that with physical reality.

Hence, we have people who will go to the hospital if they need medical care, but who will also follow crackpot politicians into thinking COVID is a hoax or that the vaccine is deadly.

We've seen this before. Denial of climate science? Evolutionary biology? Modern geology? I'm not talking about flat-earth or ancient alien believers, either - I'm talking about ordinary people who might claim to be scientifically literate, but who pick and choose those parts of science that conform to their political or religious ideologies. It's been typical of the average American's approach to science since before the modern era.

It's getting worse, and given my efforts in the classroom, I don't know if it's ever going to get better. But the idiocy we're seeing is not new.

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Reply Refuse the vaccine, but go to the hospital when sick? This is how Americans treat science. (Original post)
cab67 Aug 12 OP
Firestorm49 Aug 12 #1
Girard442 Aug 12 #2
Firestorm49 Aug 12 #3
enough Aug 12 #4
crickets Aug 12 #5

Response to cab67 (Original post)

Thu Aug 12, 2021, 06:57 PM

1. Very good post. Thank you.

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Response to cab67 (Original post)

Thu Aug 12, 2021, 06:57 PM

2. I once said a Creationist is someone who will ride in an airliner...

...in a wholly artificial environment with air too thin and too cold to breathe just inches away, hurtling along at nearly the speed of sound, guided by a web of satellites orbiting the Earth, and using a laptop computer to transmit a Facebook post via a satellite link through the Internet to his/her followers on their cell phones explaining how the scientific community is such a bunch of incompetent dumbasses that they get the age of the Universe wrong by a factor of millions.

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Response to Girard442 (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 12, 2021, 06:59 PM

3. Wow, I need to rest. You people are on your game.

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Response to Girard442 (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 12, 2021, 07:47 PM

4. LOL! And doing all this while taking their blood pressure medication. NT

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Response to Girard442 (Reply #2)

Thu Aug 12, 2021, 08:23 PM

5. *applause*

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