Science Still Can Be Fun

Back in the day, science was a fun endeavor with folks like Don Herbert (aka Mr. Wizard) around

One of science’s greatest strengths is also, ironically enough, one of its weaknesses.

Science essentially is humanity’s way to seek out the how and why of the world at large. Of course, when humans don’t know much about a certain process, theories (essentially a “best guess”) are given as to why it happens. Typically, further research is conducted and more information is gathered, which either strengthens, refines, validates or debunks those theories.

But life is complicated, and there are a plethora of things which still sport a ton of uncertainty on the how and the why. That uncertainty leaves the door open to a number of theories, some sporting more credibility than others.

The ongoing pandemic has been a prime example of this, and has probably led to a lot of science fatigue for many. Theories and policies related to how COVID spreads, its virulence, and appropriate prevention measures have been modified based more and better information, or as the virus itself has mutated (at this point, there’s a contingent of Greek-letter-based virus variants spread throughout the world.)

However, a loud minority has taken these changes as distrust, or even lies. Like the snake oil salesmen of yore, people have been touting cures from the iffy (hydroxychloroquine, silver-based solutions and Ivermectin) to the natural (such as Vitamin C, D and Zinc, in various combinations) to the plain bizarre (the rather scary cure of bleach.) Some have even ventured off into conspiracy land, claiming that experts are in concert with Big Pharma and what not to ruin the fabric of America over something no worse than a cold (never mind the fact that a lengthy stay in the hospital, a fate of quite a number of the world’s residents, will line the pockets of Big Pharma similarly nicely as well.)

Doubts about science theory have been prevalent throughout history. Perhaps one of the more famous ones resided in the generally accepted notion that the Earth was the center of the universe. The Heliocentric Theory (where the Earth rotated around the Sun), brought forward by such scientists as Nicolaus Copernicus and Galileo Galilei, brought them into direct conflict with the Catholic Church, who were firmly in the then prevailing theory camp. It wasn’t until decades later when further work by scientists like Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton were able to convince both the Church and many others that the Sun was the center of our universe.

But befitting science’s nature, even generally accepted/proven theories like Heliocentrism have their detractors. In this case, this lies mainly in those who still believe in the Flat Earth theory. This theory essentially argues that all celestial bodies are rotating “above” the flat disc that is the earth, the Arctic Ocean is the center of this disc and that Antarctica acts as a wall to prevent people from falling off said disc.

Despite some seemingly obvious problems with the idea (for example, how do you get Antarctica and the Arctic region to stay dark for several months at a time during the year with everything floating “above” the disc), a stubborn minority still holds this view. Some have even cited things like religion (via the Bible) to support their belief; interestingly, there are folks in the religious sector (such as the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) who discount this line of thinking altogether.

Perhaps that’s one thing science cannot account for – the lens of the human brain. That lens can be as imperfect as anything, bending truth, half-truths, and plain old wrong information to cater to an individual’s personal preferences, biases and faults.

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