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VIDEO: Michael Specter on The Danger of Science Denial

Michael Specter, New Yorker staff writer and author of Denialism, asks why we have increasingly begun to fear scientific advances instead of embracing them.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on VIDEO: Michael Specter on The Danger of Science Denial

  1. Very interesting talk. For the most part I agree with him. The current fear of science is a really about a lack of trust in the authories that deliver the data. I actually think that this a healthy thing. Only that lack of trust should not translate into innaction. On the contrary, it should translate into a demand for provable data. SHOW me that the data is correct. Have you really tested all aspects of the product or device to see what the possible side effects are? Often times the public is presented with products declared to be helpful in every way, only to find later that the company presenting the data did not test for effects because they don’t want the answer. GM foods is an example of that. What are the long term affects of foods that kill pests on the human population? How about HPV vaccine? The thing was just never tested enough yet it was heavily marketed to young girls. []

    Scientists need to own up to the lack of trust that the public has in them is not unfounded. It is not enough to just declare people as silly and unreasonable when there have been so many instances when we have been presented with products that are defective and harmful. There is no doubt that more education on the scientific method is needed. IMHO, we do need to look to the future with more courage. Yet we also need to carry with us a healthy dose of skepticism. We need to know how to ask the right questions and then demand the answers.

  2. Too late! I already dumped my stock in Acai Berry Herbal tea. 😉


    How do you fight against people who have blind faith in only one thing? Science unintentionally says to the devout “you are wrong, about most everything.” Of course people are going to deny what new sciences are telling them, the devout usually fear change.

    Please do not misunderstand me. I have nothing against most religions. I only have a problem when that religion breeds ignorance of the benefits of science. Many children die every year because their parents believe that modern medecine is the tool of the devil and refuse their children the most basic of medicine. Like vaccinations for small pox etc. Those children never got a chance to form their own opinions on science and religion. They were born in to a family intolerant of “that science nonsense.” Whats worse is the no respectable scientist would ever begrudge these people their religion, yet the religious would sure begrudge a scientist his findings and do it straight to the scientists face.

    On another front, how did we all let the Texas Board of Education with their recent revisionist history added to school textbooks which has edited out Thomas Jefferson from our textbooks while also adding things like Intelligent Design to our science books?!?! Even if I were a christian I would still be offended by these edits greatly. How is it possible to tell the story of the United States of America without talking about the man who was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence and who wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom? It boggles my mind to think of what edits the Texas Board of Education has in store for us next year.

    Sorry to rant but this issue is a real sore spot with me. I could go on for hours, but I won’t.

  4. I fully agree with Jenn. I embrace most new technological and scientific advances, if they are truly advances. However, the public cannot be expected to trust blindly, if that’s what is meant by “embrace”. 

    And to the assumption of another commenter that people who don’t vaccinate are denying their children a chance to have opinions–that is your opinion. Polio and small pox ran their course and largely disappeared BEFORE vaccines became commonplace. And those diseases are still occurring in developing countries where second-class vaccines are being pushed on the poor. Where did the outbreak come from? The vaccine! Don’t even get me started on the neuro-toxins in that crap. Just read Dr. Blaylock, a renowned neurosurgeon, and you’ll get the point. 


    The distrust of medical science is a very good example of what happens when consumers are abused by big business. Science professionals should take a lesson from this–truth reigns supreme. Tell the truth all the time, fact-check that truth a hundred times, and we the people will have reason to trust you.

  5. First of all I’m agnostic and I have friends who are religious and we respect each other.  My friends also do go so far as not believing in science so science and faith can work together.  The problem is when people think God will help them and they can prey disease away.  Then if their child, parent dies, they say “Its Gods will”.  If there is a God and we’re able to do these scientific things that can save people, then he/she/it gave it to us so we should be able to use it.  Another problem is that religion is bleeding into politics.  Stem cells can help millions of people with many different ailments but because politicians (and the Pope) think its murder and its not right we can’t use them.  

    We need to open up our eyes and use what we have to help fight off disease and genetic problems. We can clone body parts so if we need a new heart, or liver…etc we can replace it with one that was cloned from our DNA.  

    Sure bad things can come out of science but a lot of really good things can come from it.  What is it going to take before people open their eyes and see this?  Something like the Show Survivors where bird flew killed 95% of the human race?  

    BTW I’d travel back in time to change some things that happened in my past, but then I’d go forward in time to see what new tech we’ll have.

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