On finding science in the most unusual places

There was an Anti-Vax march in Sydney over the weekend. A family friend on Facebook spoke at the rally and shared the video in a post:

Notice what he emphasizes: experimental vaccines, a rushed regulatory process.

Then, from a recording of his speech:

“I challenge Prime Minister Scott Morrison to prove to the world that I am – being over 70 – vulnerable. I’m not vulnerable! I look after myself!”

“Many of the people I talk to tell me I don’t believe in science. That is rubbish. I am an absolute stalwart for science. I love science. I just don’t love scientists. I trust science, I trust it, I just don’t trust many scientists.”

He never explains how he can trust science, but not those who produce it, nor where he finds all the science he allegedly loves. Someone in the crowd clarified matters by yelling “fuck science.”

It is easy to feel demoralized listening to him. Thousands of people in one of the wealthiest, most educated countries on earth came to hear him speak. To overturn two hundred years of medical research, he came armed with sayings from Mark Twain and Thomas Jefferson – presumably not realizing Jefferson was an untrustworthy scientist.

Yet, this man, a man with no interest in any science which contradicts him, still finds it necessary to speak the language of scientists; he might profane the vocabulary, but he uses it nonetheless. We are spared references to god, scriptural revelation, or prophecy, and get instead proof, process, and rushed experiments – regardless of how disingenuously they are meant. The Scientific Revolution has come so far that even its opponents are forced to use its vocabulary, and accept its process, even if only in lip service. Our species’ long battle against the forces of ignorance and darkness is far from over, but at least we have them playing by our rules.

Still, there is a legacy he shares with his pre-scientific forefathers: the absence of doubt. Where the greatest minds of the human race are unsure, this man is convicted. Convicted with the kind of arrogance only faith can provide.

A similar point I made several months ago.

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