Has an ‘Anti-Science’ Sentiment Overtaken the United States?
Has an ‘Anti-Science’ Sentiment Overtaken the United States? by Derrick Broze for The Last American Vagabond
In recent months it has become popular to proclaim that an “anti-science” climate has taken over the United States, but is there any truth to these claims?
You don’t have to look hard to find headlines and media pundits declaring the end of rationality as America has apparently fallen prey to “anti-science” rhetoric. In this worldview, Americans are now overwhelmingly stupid and incapable of understanding scientific concepts or interpreting scientific research. Recently, these alarmists point to the resistance to the mainstream COVID-19 narrative as the latest in the anti-science trend. Prior to covid, vaccine hesitancy was seen as the main driver of this anti-science sentiment.
How much truth can be found when investigating these claims? Is America really in the throes of an anti-science “infodemic“? What does it even mean to be anti-science? Finally, if an anti-science mentality is indeed growing in popularity, why?
When I search “Anti-Science America” the results produce the following headlines:
-Anti-Science Attitudes are Killing Americans
-How Do We Reverse the Tide of an Anti-Science America?
-Anthony Fauci warns of ‘anti-science bias’ being a problem
-Years of anti-science sentiment has left America in a terrifying predicament
I also found the paper, Combating antiscience: Are we preparing for the 2020s?, by Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics and Molecular Virology & Microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. He is also Director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.
“I loosely define an “antiscience movement” as an organized and funded rejection of science and scientific principles and methods in factor of alternative views, often linked to the targeting or harassment of individual scientists,” Hotez writes.
Hotez’s definition describes a very specific group that he says is organized and funded that rejects the scientific method and principles. This group, apparently, also likes to harass scientists. Wikipedia defines anti-science as “a philosophy or way of understanding the world that rejects science and the scientific method.” Further, wiki says science deniers “do not accept science as an objective method that can generate universal knowledge.”
So, according to Dr. Peter Hotez and Wikipedia (sourced from media reports and research), to be considered anti-science one would need to reject the scientific method and principles, and science altogether. Also, rejecting objective knowledge and harassing scientists is a must.
Vaccine Hesitancy Is Not Inherently ‘Anti-Science’
Unfortunately, there is a problem with this narrative. For example, over the years all the individuals I have interviewed who reject or question vaccines do not reject science or the scientific method. In fact, these parents and activists who have been labeled “anti-vaxx” are often some of the most well-researched and up to date individuals. Sure, this group is capable of confirmation bias and baseless speculation like any other, but in general this community tends to adamantly support the scientific method and the scientists who raise legitimate questions about the safety of vaccinations.