The future of science and technology in this country and the world

It’s been almost a moth since I last brought you the story of a woman who compared herself to victims of the Holocaust because she thinks she’s being persecuted for being irrational and acting like she’s insane when it comes to vaccines an anti-vaccine zealot. Since that time, I took a walk in the wild, so to speak, to get a feel for where I want to go with this whole struggle against anti-vaccine groups and anti-science misinformation permeating just about every form of media out there. You might not be surprised if I told you that all of this is exhausting.

It is exhausting because I keep reading the same lies and misinformation over and over and over and over and over again. Anyone who promotes the proper use of vaccines is in the pockets of Big Pharma. Anyone who opposes the idea that vaccines cause autism is disrespecting families of autistics. And anyone who sees autistic children and adults as not lost and not stolen somehow doesn’t understand autism. Those are just a few of the things that are floating out there.

There are, of course, other lies being perpetuated. The government is trying to kill us. Bill Gates is trying to depopulate the planet. (Good luck with that one. We keep multiplying and cramming ourselves into cities.) And, naturally, Monsanto is trying to feed us genetically modified organisms whether we like it or not.

Oh, and the Apple Watch will give us all cancer.

I’m really tired of it all. I could use my time for better things because, frankly, everything that needs to be said on the subject of vaccines has been said, or other people are saying it. But what about the next anti-scientific thing on the horizon? Quacks don’t sleep. (If they do, I hope they don’t sleep well.) They’re going to come up with some scheme to get rich quick and they don’t care much about who they hurt in the process.

There will always be suckers who will fall for whatever the quacks will sell to them. I don’t mean “suckers” in that it’s their fault that they fall for these things. Often times, these “suckers” are people who are desperate for a cure or relief for whatever ails them or their children. Often times, these “suckers” are people who cannot accept the established answers for whatever is going on and so they look for an answer that is more palatable.

Thinking about all this has me thinking about the future of science and technology in this country and the world. Can a child of an ardent anti-vaccine activist ever grow up to be involved in science and technology? Sure, there are physicians who are anti-vaccine, and there are plenty of scientists who believe in the vaccine-autism lie. But can a child really contribute to the body of knowledge that is science if their parents raise them in an anti-science household? We’ve all seen what “The Kid” has become, how hard he seems to work to destroy anything that is reasonable about the science and evidence of autism.

I’ve also been listening to some of the stupidity coming out of the Republican party pre-presidential candidates. They deny global climate change. They think that STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) are not subjects that should be taught in school. (They want religion to be taught instead, because the Earth is so 6,000 years old or something.) Sadly, more and more people are seeing things their way, electing more and more of them to positions of authority.

Lucky for me, I’m a hopeful kind of person. We’ve been in these types of scientific darkness kind of days before. Unfortunately, something has happened that shakes us all out of the apathy of not caring about science. I just hope it doesn’t take another world war or space race or cold war to do that. I hope it doesn’t take an outbreak of something more serious than measles to get us to vaccinate at adequate levels again. People shouldn’t die so we can continue our march forward as human beings.

So, for now, I’ll continue to wander in the wilderness and evaluate what my role in this whole thing is.

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8 thoughts on “The future of science and technology in this country and the world

  1. Ruben, how about you start writing homeschool curriculum on epidemiology and public health?

    • That would be interesting, but I’d rather help write a homeschool curriculum where children can learn about biology and such from everyday experiences. My “wake up” moment in science didn’t happen at school. It happened at home.

      • As someone who was duped by the anti-vaccination movement, (Not enough to reject all vaccines and shots, but enough to be kicked out of my pediatricians office for rejecting two of them) I have to tell you that your blog was extremely helpful to me. I honestly don’t remember how I stumbled upon it about a year ago but it was the first of the “science” blogs I found that helped me understand just how wrong I was and it humbled me. I actually believed I knew more than my child’s doctor. I believed the decisions I made were based on good data – when I truthfully I didn’t know what good data was if it rang my door and introduced itself. I now realize I was pathetically wrong. And hopefully it helps you to know that your words were exactly what I needed to hear at the right time. So I know it’s tiring but perhaps it would encourage you to know that you are doing great work beyond your day job.

        As far as the state of the future generation I too have thought the same things. When children are indoctrinated into believing that science is wrong what kind of careers could they possibly go into? How could they have any interest in something that has been vilified by their parents. Or how about something as simple as when these kids who have never been vaccinated want to go to college but cannot because of they can’t provide their immunization record. Are they going to dig in their heels and decide against higher education? Are enough of these kids going to skew our already sad projecting life expectancy numbers where because of obesity children may not outlive their parents? Because their cancer rates soar as they reject cancer preventing vaccines?

        Will they be using Gatorade to water their plants and grass because you know, “Electrolytes: it’s what plants crave”?

  2. But can a child really contribute to the body of knowledge that is science if their parents raise them in an anti-science household?

    The short answer is yes; I was raised creationist, but by the end of high school biology I realized that all of the supposed “debunkings” of evolution I’d been taught were based on a strawman, not the actual theory of evolution, which was supported by so many converging lines of evidence that I was forced to conclude that either life had evolved or God had deliberately created life to look like it had evolved – which would make God a liar.

    I should probably mention that I probably have Asperger’s syndrome, so my case may not be typical. However, children who are brought up in anti-science belief systems often accept them because they’ve never been exposed to different lines of thought; they don’t necessarily have the fervent need to believe that “converts” have. Of course, the biggest problem is that parents will often do everything they can to prevent their kids from ever being exposed to differing viewpoints – hence the fight over teaching evolution in schools and the rise in fundamentalist homeschooling, Bible colleges, etc.

  3. Thank you Shannon for your reply. I feel so alone as a parent. Psuedoscience and misinformation and illogical thinking reign in this age.

    • Sorry, wrong spot. Should know better than to try to reply with a child screaming at me 😉

  4. I have considered homeschooling my children, not because of the ‘traditional’ reasons, but because I want them to have a science background. They can do whatever they want in life, but I hope I can give them a rational, scientific base to draw from. This anti-science movement scares the heck out of me.

    • One of a long list of reasons why I homeschool is because I place a high value on the math and science and I don’t think our local school system does based on what I’ve seen.

      I know not everyone can homeschool so I will point out that my parents valued math and science and they were very active in my education. But this movement has me very worried as well.

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