When Perspectives Must Be Fact

I appreciate this op-ed piece the other day on the confusing nature of science and those who insist that it is not confusing.  

It is popular to portray complex issues as very simple ones and to villify those who disagree with your particular position as evil or stupid or both.  It is not a tactic reserved for one color of the political spectrum, or even just the political spectrum.  But the tide today seems rolling in favor of those who see humankind as the problem to be solved, and the ultimate source of the solution all in the same bundle.  Science is the religion they trust to provide the answers.  And if reality doesn’t always match up with expectations, this simply is all the more reason to have faith that science is right.  
Science is a wonderful thing and it has provided a lot of good and has sometimes had some rough shakes along the way.  But it is by no means insulated as an art or as individual practitioners thereof from dishing out the same rough treatment using the same methodologies as those it might have suffered from in the past.  
Even good ideas, or what appear to be good ideas, can be more complicated than they are popularly portrayed, ultimately doing a disservice to scientific endeavors.  And a lot of people are enlisted to push the message of scientific faith while at the same time omitting or being ignorant of a lot of the factors involved.
I enjoy Penn & Teller’s irreverent form of magic.  But videos like this one (beware, harsh language) aren’t overly helpful in the continued quest for greater understanding that science purports to be about.  Rejecting the claims of those who disagree with you out of hand doesn’t inform debate.  It doesn’t contribute to anything other than polarizing people in support or opposition to a position that is more complicated (as per the essay above) than most people realize.  
The video makes a point.  But it makes the point with no nuance.  No acknowledgement of a myriad of factors that might influence the data – both in support of or against their position.  There are assumptions that all vaccines are created equally and equally effectively.  There is no acknowledgement that many of the vaccines now presumed to be necessary are for things that are not, by and large, fatal or life-threatening.  There is no treatment of the issue of how many different vaccinations children receive, and how early and how closely together (oftentimes in the same injection).  There is no discussion of the longevity of these vaccines or their possible long-term effects.  
It doesn’t mean that vaccines might not be a good thing.  But to shut down discussion of any kind as stupid and ignorant is not a benefit ultimately even to those who support vaccines.  

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