Unless you are actually qualified in science! Sticking to your expertise is important, of course, so your zoology qualification does not mean you are an expert in the big bang.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, a formidable and popular astrophysicist, said “the good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” The challenge is that what people ~think~ is science – is not science.
Science comes to us in many forms. We may learn some in school – dissecting frogs, or combining chemicals for interesting results, for example. Once we are actual adults, we seem to remove the curious bone from our being and just believe sciencey-sounding things are science.
A friend-told-me Science
It’s always good to have friends who are smarter than me – or at least, sound smarter than you feel. And it is always good when someone talks loudly and at length about profound topics. And when you don’t know, and they sound so smart, they must be right.
Talking loudly about a topic on which you are not qualified does not make you a scientist.
I read-it-on-Facebook Science
Social media memes are the replacement to the office cafe fridge posts that were getting difficult to read from the sheer volume of times they have been photocopied. Today’s memes come in many forms. Sometimes it’s a photo of a photo of a photo that, over time, has introduced JPG noise and is becoming unreadable. Other times it is a quote attributed to someone other than the actual author, but re-typed so it can be added to a different background image that suits a particular momentary feel-good urge.
When the words are particularly sciencey, readers can forget that a few small words does not make it truth.
At the same time, reposts of long diatribes that have some political or religious agenda can gain traction, generally because you, as the ignorant reader, have little to no knowledge of the topic and believe it without search for source or truth.
Social media as a source of knowledge does not make you a scientist.
The I’m-not-listening Science
There are several websites that attempt to debunk lies and misinformation. Politifact is one. Snopes is another. Their aim is to find the facts behind disputed stories and show sources of information to prove a story is truth or a lie – or somewhere in between.
At one point, Snopes exposed that a conservative politician was dealing in untruths. They collected the facts, showed the sources, and were able to prove the lie. That particular politician was upset about being exposed and their only recourse was to smear Snopes. This was managed with rumor and slander, and personal attacks were made on the publishers of Snopes. The premise was that Snopes was clearly biased. Not one thing they “proved” was evidence of Snopes being biased, however, the political misinformation meme machine was able to spread this one-sided lie to the “faithful”. The end result is responses from people who say “Snopes is wrong” and will not read one word on the site.
Those people are unwilling to (a) learn the truth about Snopes, and (b) read anything that might be truth because they aren’t listening! Science falls into this category, so instead of using a valuable resource to learn more about the truth or lies about science, they hold their hands over their ears and mumble “nyeh-nyeh-n-nyeh-nyeh”.
Refusing to listen to the actual science does not make you a scientist.
It happened-to-me Science
Once upon a time on a social media outlet, I was told that vaccines cause autism. I asked for the evidence, and they wrote “I saw it happen to a friend’s daughter. They were vaccinated, and the following week were diagnosed with autism.” There is actual scientific research that shows there is absolutely zero causal impact of vaccines on autism. There are multiple scientific studies done to understand the causes of autism. There have been additional detailed studies on the autism spectrum and new definitions of autism have increased the numbers of those diagnosed in recent decades.
Theirs was pure coincidence and their personal experience does not prove or disprove science. People tend to rely on experiential evidence to “prove” some scientific “fact”, always forgetting that they are not qualified in science or medicine and they simply do not know the facts.
One pundit swore to me that Ivermectin cured his COVID. It was clear, because he was taking Ivermectin, he got COVID, and the COVID went away. The facts were that his doctor had prescribed him Ivermectin for a parasitic infection – not for COVID. And, his COVID infection went away just like the thousands of other people who had not taken Ivermectin. Along with the political biased stories he was consuming, his experiential evidence proved Ivermectin cured his COVID – so he was out telling the world and pushing an ineffective snake oil remedy because…. he KNEW!
Coincidence and experiential evidence does not make you a scientist.
The Media of Science
This week, coffee is good for you! Last week, coffee was bad for you. Next week, what will the “science” about coffee be?
Scientific journals often publish activity that may include planned or ongoing tests. They publish first attempts and articles that may lead other scientists to begin testing. And journalists looking for the sensationalism of the “first-to-press” story are quick to grab on to a single article and promote it as fact. If you were to read the source of their “wow-look-at-this” story, you would be able to discern the facts and understand the story even better than their reporting. Not all journalists are qualified in science, so believing their headline that offers the cure to baldness based on an article about a single case of cured alopecia might be the wrong path to take.
Reading and repeating headlines does not make you a scientist.
The Government of Science
COVID has truly exposed the effectiveness or otherwise of governmental health systems.
The Politics of Science
Dr. Anthony Fauci was a most dedicated public servant. However, the moment he spoke the facts that disagreed with the political leader at the time, he was in for a serious hard time. His past was combed through, attempting to find any single thing that might bring his entire words into disrepute. Did you know he holds a patent for something? If you read the attacks on him, he is accused of multiple sins including how he stiffed his partner so he could make huge amounts of cash from said patent.
Of course, the real story is much more interesting and paints Dr Fauci as less vile. Yet, he needed to be an enemy to those spreading misinformation and lies. Ironically, they chose projection to accuse him of behavior they are the most familiar with.
Believing their false claims because you are aligned with certain political attacks do not make you a scientist.
Science is just a theory
Those who want to claim science is “wrong” often tell us that “science is just a theory”. They have grabbed onto the term “scientific theory” and applied their ignorance to conflate two different meanings of the word “theory”. Choosing this path simply shows your own ignorance and should discount you from any continued discussion about science.
Wikipedia says “A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and corroborated in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocols of observation, measurement, and evaluation of results.”
Misusing language does not make you a scientist.
Science is just a hypothesis
This one was new to me recently. A loud talking pundit showed his ignorance about science
The Actual Science
You are in charge