“When a scientist says something, his colleagues must ask themselves only whether it is true. When a politician says something, his colleagues must first of all ask, ‘Why does he say it?’” -Leo Szilard
There are claims flying around all the time that science is corrupt, politicized, and that the robust scientific conclusions reached about a number of issues are unreliable. Whether it’s about vaccines, HIV/AIDS, fluoride, climate change or the genetics of sexuality (or a host of other issues), you will often see the rare scientist who dissents from the mainstream highlighted along with the standard view.
A poster put up by the Fluoride Action Network, one of the most notoriously anti-science activist groups out there. Image credit: flickr user William Murphy.
First off, the presentation of two opposing viewpoints doesn’t validate the opposition viewpoint at all; you can always find a contrarian. But with the vastly different global political landscape of 2017 rapidly approaching, it’s important to vigilantly guard against what will come next: catastrophic policies based on the acceptance of the nonsense alternative to the science.
A brain science session at the 2014 AAAS meeting. Image credit: Nicky Penttila of the Dana Foundation.