BY SHARON MARTIN
Agnotology means the deliberate spread of ignorance. Robert Proctor coined the word when he discovered that tobacco company executives were deliberately casting doubt on good science that proved the link between tobacco and cancer.
“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy,” one of the executives wrote.
How many lives were lost because of the war on science waged by the tobacco companies?
How much time and how many lives have been lost because of the war on science being waged right now?
Rising water is drowning islands in the Pacific Ocean. Shorelines along our East Coast are being swallowed. The average temperature of Earth has risen by two degrees Celsius. The always-iffy weather patterns in the center of North America are getting iffier.
Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that humans are wreaking havoc on the planet. Drag out the 3%, many of them paid by the companies that contribute to the mess, and you have yourself a controversy. Ninety-seven to three isn’t good odds, but too many people take them.
In the world of medicine, you make people believe it is impossible or impractical to insure that every citizen has access to medical care.
Cast a doubt of immorality on stem cell research, and how many more people will die of cancer, live with Alzheimer’s, suffer from reversible conditions?
While there are plenty of folks out there who want to con you for their purposes, too many of us choose to be conned for our own comfort. Who wants to admit we might be wrong? We don’t want to quit smoking. We don’t want to give up our pickups. We don’t want to admit that our political idols and news-as-entertainment personalities might have gulled us into believing that tax breaks for corporations would make us rich.
Does it excite you to be at war? Does it make your faith stronger to believe that Muslims and atheists oppose you?
Are you afraid to entertain the notion that there is more than one path to God? Does your doubt and your questions make you feel guilty? Don’t let them.
Doubt is as essential to the scientific process as it is to the deliberate spread of ignorance. But how do we know when to doubt and when to believe?
If we humans can figure that out, we might save our state, our nation, and our planet. Asking questions and seeking multiple sources of information are a good start.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer