TPM Reader BT checks in …
As a molecular biologist and loyal TPM reader, I want to acknowledge and thank you for your piece “Junk Science.” I think you hit the nail on the head with regards to the logical fallacy that believes in scientists when it is convenient or has some associated health benefit, but not when it goes against your political beliefs.
The scientific process that leads to discoveries that produce antibiotics and chemotherapies is built on the same structure that produces data on global warming. Scientists though are very careful, as you say, to point out that science is never absolute, and that we always leave the door open for new and better theories. However, many have taken this to mean that lack of 100% consensus or an absolute truth somehow invalidates the system. Keep in mind that the laws of gravity are still subject to future updating and/or refutation in light of new evidence, but if I hold a bowling ball over your head, I’m pretty sure you’re going to be afraid that it will fall. Unfortunately what seems to happen is that when you have a debate on television on something like evolution, even if you have 99% of scientists believing in it, and one that doesn’t, as long as you have a one-on-one debate many see it as 50:50. They take this to mean that “all the science isn’t in,” so we shouldn’t believe the majority. The decline in the value of expertise in our society leaves me increasingly apprehensive, as it has and will continue to lead to otherwise preventable suffering in the future.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.