Sunday, November 8, 2015

Politics and Science: Hard to Be a Moderate

It used to be that anti-science blither mostly came from the right. Now we've got anti-vaxxers, anti-GMO'ers, back-to-the-landers, and gods-know-what-else. It makes it hard to adopt positions critical of the pharmaceutical industry, agribusiness, or some of the more righteous environmentalists without accusations.

Why is moderation so hard? Saying "Both sides are wrong" gets you slammed by fanatics faster than anything. "Yes, the pharmaceutical industry commits many abuses, and vaccination saves lives?" "Yes, the seed sellers are greedy and manipulative and want to own your seed corn and most GMOs are not a hazard to human health, nor is glyphosate (Round-Up) toxic to humans, though it may be an ecological problem." "Climate change is a real and alarming problem and we do not know how to sustain our current population with alternative energy yet." "No, there is no radiation danger to the North American west coast from the Fukushima disaster and there is a very serious danger to the land around Fukushima, which may be arriving in that half-alive state of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone where half the leaves do not rot."

To ask the question is to know the answer: people are in fear of their lives, which breeds madness, and people are attached to their fears. I suppose also there is a difference between a fantasy fear, which can be comforting (consider horror novels) and a well-documented real fear: people would so very much like to believe that these very real dangers are fantasies.

No comments: