Medieval (Bad) Times

Andrew Potter is not impressed with an outbreak of measles in the US. Apparently this the fruit of anti-science paranoia about vaccines. He also mentions the suspicion that there is now about wifi and fluoride in drinking water. None of this has any kind of basis in science and the anti-vaccine guy has now been exposed as a fraud. When figuring out what is happening with the physical world, science is still among our very best tools. That doesn’t mean that scientists won’t try to do silly things like pronounce on ethics or religion or economics or art as if their scientific credentials make them all-purpose experts. All the same we do well to take science seriously when it comes to figuring out what makes us ill and what can make us safe. It’s unfortunate that the church is often guilty of stoking anti-science sorts of paranoia. Yes, there’s some stuff to regret having lost with the passing of earlier ages, but I’m happy to do without measles. It’s not really enough to mock Jenny McCarthy (as much as she deserves it) if out of the same mouth Christians also sow skepticism about science in general. Sure, point out problems, point out the scientists who stray too far from their disciplines and end up looking foolish. Point out everything that science cannot do for you. But to engage in the tinfoil hat stuff about “big science” conspiring against society at large is to give aid and comfort to the vaccine cranks. Which is okay if you like measles and other medieval bits that aren’t brought up in the waves of nostalgia.