Pointing out the war on science by the politically correct:
It was this F-word—feels—that left Mr. Mnookin justifiably gobsmacked, and it serves as the departure point for The Panic Virus, an attempt to explain how thousands of otherwise sophisticated Americans could make a fatuous decision to opt out of what is arguably modernity’s greatest medical achievement. Most children “exempted” from vaccines (a fittingly ridiculous term, as if the kids place out via AP exam) are not low-information progeny. They are being raised in college towns, in wealthy suburbs and in tony urban enclaves like Park Slope, by the sorts of parents who are otherwise given to grave tut-tutting about the anti-science stances of others—the climate-change know-nothings, say, or the ovine devotees of the garish Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.
This part really grates, though:
How do we handle Mr. Mnookin’s fatuous friend? The Panic Virus aims to engage him or, failing that, to explain him; and yet a better choice still is to spurn him. Surely this same man, at this same party, could not have denied the existence of climate change without provoking spit-takes of wheat beer or dropped forkfuls of braised ramps. And the two claims are analogous, for both deny science in the service of what is, at base, an ideology: the magical faith that sacrifice is never required—at least not by you!
As a firm believer that evolution is the best, if not only theory to explain the diversity of life and the fossil record, and that there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism, I get outraged at such comparisons. It is neither “anti-science” or “denying science” to be skeptical about the claims of those who have been fudging data and don’t know how to do basic programming, let alone model complex and chaotic phenomena, while demanding that we pauperize millions in the future in the name of their claims. Skepticism lies at the heart of science. And this is an oversimplistic characterization. No one I know of “denies climate change.” Anyone with a lick of sense knows that the climate has never been static. The issues are whether or not it is changing as a result of our actions in a predictable way, if such changes (if they’re occurring) will be net good or bad, and if bad, what the best means of dealing with the problem are. And we are a long way from knowing the answers to any of those questions. That many of the people who claim certainty on the matter have been shown to be hacks and frauds doesn’t increase confidence in anyone making such claims. If anyone is “anti-science,” it is those who betray it with such unscientific behavior.
[Update Monday morning]