October 2021
Alan Dean Foster

That Darned Science

Believing is easy. Thinking is hard.

I’ve written quite a bit in these columns about science. I’ve written very little about anti-science. For those who would like to research the subject in depth there is an excellent publication, The Skeptical Inquirer, that can keep you up to date on everything that’s wrong with Filipino faith healers, astrologers, UFO believers, Bigfoot, Smallfoot (okay, I made that one up), ghosts, poltergeists, ancient aliens, and every imaginable variety of snake-oil salesman(for the record, you can’t get much oil out of a snake. You can get venom, which has its uses, but that’s a subject for a whole other column).

So if that magazine and the organization that publishes it provide such a wealth of information on such disreputable subjects, why am I writing about it? Well, I suppose I suffer from a disproportionate adherence to Logic and Reason, those two bugaboos of the excessively credulous. Or, to sum up the situation that seems to be all-too prevalent among the species right now,

Believing is easy. Thinking is hard.

Don’t give in to the fallacy that this is just an American problem. It’s way too common an affliction all over the planet. The difference is that in countries with higher levels of education, the extremes of deliberate disbelief are just more obvious. It is one thing to hear that folks in a far-off land still believe in the efficacy of witchdoctors and shamans, quite another to find out that in the wealthiest country on Earth there are still people who think the world is going to end tomorrow because some dude interpreted four hundred and twenty-two words in an old book (Bible, Koran, Talmud, Bhagavad-Gita, take your pick) to mean that. Funny how such predictions keep getting pushed back a year or two, or three, or a couple of decades, or ....

The situation is worse in Russia, for example. Since the government there lies to its people all the time, I suppose it’s not surprising they would seek refuge and hope in comforting nonsense. Soviet science was a bastion of prevarication, since what was required for advancement was adherence not to scientific knowledge but to the reigning political stance of the moment. Sadly, too many of us are suffering from the same aberration right here, right now.

It’s a funny thing about science: you don’t get to pick and choose the parts you like. Either you believe that a motor powers your car according to the accepted thermodynamic laws, or you ascribe its forward motion to the kindly intervention of overheated gargoyles. You can’t have it both ways. It’s the same with medicine, which is why I’m writing this.

Because there are folks who for multiple reasons are refusing to get vaccinated. What’s contradictory is that these same folks have likely already been vaccinated multiple times, against polio, measles, possibly mumps and chickenpox, tetanus, shingles and pneumonia if they’re smart, hepatitis especially if they’re traveling overseas, and more. Because I’ve been to some out-of-the-way places I’ve also been vaccinated against yellow fever, dengue fever, taken malaria prophylaxis, and some stuff whose names I can’t remember.

As a result, I’ve never acquired any of those charming afflictions.

Yet there remain many who seem to think that the combined efforts of three major drug companies, the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, plus the President of the United States and one (or maybe both) political parties have joined forces solely to — what? Pollute our precious bodily fluids, as General Jack D. Ripper insists in Dr. Strangelove? Secretly implant us with chips from Microsoft (that likely wouldn’t work anyway)?

Here’s what I know about conspiracies. The more people who are involved, the more difficult it is to keep things a secret. In this day and age, when governments can’t keep their own secrets a secret and just one person in the know could shatter a conspiracy for personal reasons or for money, it seems odd that out of the thousands and thousands of employees, family members and just plain nosey-pokes, not a single one has come forward with verifiable evidence that anti-Covid vaccines do anything other than what they are intended to do.

Of course, there’s always hydroxychloroquine for the obstinate. And my favorite, the veterinary drug ivermectin. As to the latter, the CDC has stated succinctly, “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Don’t do it.” But that’s obviously part of the conspiracy. As with all the other quack remedies you could verify its effectiveness with those who relied on them but are dead. Except they’re dead.

I have this feeling that those who did that and died would offer differing opinions on the usefulness of Covid vaccines if they were still alive. Unfortunately all they can do is lead by example.

It’s all the fault of that darned science stuff. Remember that the next time you have to see a doctor. You really don’t know what goes into that flu shot. Or an aspirin. Or Cocoa Puffs.

Prescott resident Alan Dean Foster is the author of 130 books. Follow him at AlanDeanFoster. com.