The U.S. has a big problem with science literacy, and when you have a public who fundamentally misunderstands what science is, you are going to have quacks and charlatans thrive….. In the U.S., we have both low science literacy and low trust in government. In our current polarized political climate, efforts to increase trust in government are unlikely to be successful anytime soon.
Mass vaccination efforts against a pestilence will be very difficult when the public lacks confidence in the importance and safety of the vaccine. Further, most vaccine initiatives require a high level of government involvement and “Big Pharma,” and that adds a political dimension to vaccine sentiment. – Dr. Sara Bajuyo, MD, author of the article being discussed today, HOW TO STOP ANTI-SCIENCE.
I respectfully disagree. We need to get conflicts of interest out of our regulatory bodies. The CDC, FDA and other US regulatory agencies are not working exclusively for our nation’s public health. There is too much corporate interest and political influence at play. Until we resolve this issue, the public has every reason to be skeptical. As an academic researcher myself, I no longer feel comfortable deferring to the “experts” and when I dig deeply into the “science” that they are using to guide public policy, I am deeply disturbed by what I am seeing. – Dr. Robin Nemerhoff from the article’s comment section
I always get a kick out of reading and dissecting polarized polemics like this one (most of the time the comment section is better than the article itself, and this one doesn’t disappoint). The basic underlying premise is almost always the same. Science (or “anti-science” as the case may be) is whatever I say it is. And don’t you dare question my opinions.
Opinions? I thought “science” was based on facts and not one’s opinion? And this, my friends, is the crux of today’s discussion. It’s a debate that’s been framed by Dr Bajuyo in typical “strawman” fashion; Science (Truth & Facts) -vs- Anti-Science (Opinion & “QUACKERY“). But how does one decide which is which in light of conflicting evidence?
According to Dr. Bajuyo, we should accept the National Science Education Standards definition of the word “science,” because it “demands that the person is an active researcher and inquisitor in the process of discovering a truth“.
“Scientific literacy means that a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. It means that a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena.”
I would say that compared to the average person, I am an active researcher and inquisitor. If you follow my blog you will note that excepting my PATIENT TESTIMONIALS, I always use peer-reviewed (“scientific”) research findings to come to my conclusions. And here’s where things get dicey — potentially very dicey (and potentially very “anti-science”). It’s not hard to find research ‘proving’ both sides of many issues — even issues that are seemingly cut and dried. Allow me to give you a few quick examples.
Anti-Science in Medical Research and Practice
With the incidence of diseases that are directly related to the consumption of sugar and high-glycemic carbs continuing to skyrocket (CANCER, HEART DISEASE, DIABETES, and almost any other disease you care to name — HERE’S A TRUE SHOCKER), you would think that the body of scientific evidence would reflect this fact. And in many cases it has. But in far too many cases it has not.
For at least sixty years, the sugar industry, piggy-backing on the erroneous conclusions of ANCEL KEYS SEVEN NATIONS STUDY, has been intentionally creating fraudulent studies (HERE and HERE) that started us down the road of decades of BASS-ACKWARDS USDA RECOMMENDATIONS (more on this momentarily). What’s equally disturbing, but as equally unsurprising, is that almost identical studies and governmental recommendations continue today. Right now (HERE and HERE). The kicker is that the artificial-sweetener industry, in turn piggy-backing off of some of ‘Big Sugar’s’ recent publicity SNAFUs, stole a page from their playbook and is engaged in the very same scam (HERE).
And lest you think this seemingly small chapter in the long and sordid history of American research corruption is not that big a deal, let me remind you of the downstream consequences.
Does anyone remember the “FOOD PYRAMID“? This was the monstrosity created by a combination of industry insiders and governmental agencies (remember that the USDA’s #1 purpose is to promote U.S. ag) who used PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS to tell us we should all be consuming 8-11 servings of GRAIN a day. Have you seen what happens to livestock that eat that much grain? And shockingly enough, IT NEVER SEEMS TO CHANGE.
But it doesn’t stop there. Not even close. What about organizations that are supposed to keep us safe, chiefly the CDC and FDA?
Can we trust the governmental watchdog organizations that were created for the express purpose of keeping the American public safe? These are the alphabet soup organizations, with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) topping the list. Then there’s the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), whose job it is to protect us from DANGEROUS DRUGS and DANGEROUS FOODS. Surely, we can trust them; can’t we?
Sure we can — just as much as we can trust BIG PHARMA, whose brazen corruption is so out of control (INVISIBLE & ABANDONED STUDIES are a wonderful example) it was actually mentioned by Dr. Bajuyo as a reason people might be having second thoughts about “science”. How’s the FDA doing? If it were not so disgusting it would be comical just how RARELY SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS OF COMMON DRUGS ARE REPORTED to the proper government agencies (and HERE). Furthermore, the FDA has been shown time and time again to be a REVOLVING DOOR to the world of ridiculously high-paying industry jobs.
Then there is VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) and the “Vaccine Court” (The Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims), which administrates the VICP (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program).
In our current political environment (think censorship, fact-checking, fake news, blatant propaganda, ad hominem attacks, etc, etc), we have seen that if medical research findings don’t follow the lock-step thinking trumpeted by those holding the purse-strings (HERE IS ONE EXAMPLE OF MILLIONS and HERE, HERE and HERE are some others), those doing said research will be viciously demonized. And PUBLICLY CASTIGATED. And PROFESSIONALLY BLACKBALLED. All for promoting (gulp) “anti-science”. You are labeled a “science” heretic. No further discussion needed or allowed!
Another example of “anti-science”
bias propaganda is seen in a nearly rabid promotion of ANNUAL FLU SHOTS. “Science’s” dirty little secret is that even though we are continually told they are about 50% effective, we usually see post-season efficacy calculated closer to single digits (WHICH REALLY MEANS THAT THE CLINICAL PICTURE IS ACTUALLY WORSE BY SEVERAL ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE); something my doctor has DISCUSSED WITH ME at length.
While promoting the hodge-podge of Covid shots currently on the market, Bajuyo mentioned hydroxychloroquine by name, decrying it as unscientific and unstudied (anti-science) — at least as far as the pandemic is concerned. Is her “opinion” correct?
First, remember that we are talking about an anti-malarial medication (similar to quinine) that’s been around for 60 or 70 years, is dirt-cheap, and has an extremely low side-effect profile — arguably as low as any medicine on the market today. In other words, there is a very long track record of safety we can “scientifically” observe.
And secondly, NEW (SOON-TO-BE-PUBLISHED) RESEARCH from a team led by Michigan State University Professor of Economics, Dr. Mark Skidmore, has shown that using hydroxychoroquine from the beginning would have likely saved as many as 100,000 lives. And lest you doubt his credentials, they not only read like a Who’s Who in his field, but his expertise happens to be the economic impact of natural disasters. But nope, we can’t say anything about that either because that would also be ‘anti-science’.
Add all these facts together, stir them around a bit, and it shows that Dr. Nemerhoff is spot-on in her assessment of anti-science.
How can we not at least wonder about the motivations of a government whose umbrella agencies continue to ballyhoo all of this, along with other adventures like “TRANSHUMANISM” (nope, I didn’t believe it either UNTIL I STARTED DIGGING INTO IT)? Or continue to allow our national MEDICAL GUIDELINES to be
created hijacked by doctors who are so utterly and totally tainted by FINANCIAL CONFLICTS-OF-INTEREST and the need to be famous and important (to “prove” their research agendas) that they are less trustworthy than (and in many cases, just as absurd as) my old issues of Mad Magazine (thwack)!
After all, WHO REALLY DECIDES what’s science and what’s anti-science? It only takes about a minute of cruising the nearly 250 entries in my EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE ARCHIVES to realize that what numerous experts have been warning about for 3 plus decades is more true today than it ever was. In other words, the problem is getting worse instead of better despite the increasing amount of light being shed on the subject.
The definition of “science” is being auctioned off to the highest bidder via “scientific” studies published in “scientific” peer-reviewed journals and then promoted by their well-compensated “scientific” mouthpieces in the “scientific” medical media. All of it done scientifically, of course.
And here’s the punch-line to this whole sordid affair. The drug companies along with the government agencies who are running cover for them are getting exactly what they want in the end. Way more use of their products (“OVER-DIAGNOISIS & OVER-TREATMENT“), and a population living longer than ever, but struggling with chronic, degenerative illnesses for the last 1/3 to 1/2 of their life. Like I said, exactly what they want.
But we are still not quite finished.
Anti-Science in Education
I want to wrap things up by discussing one more government agency, which, even though Dr Bajuyo did not mention by name, was inferred because she talked at length about the appalling state of science education here in America. The Department of Education.
According to the National Science Foundation, only 21% of 12th grade students scored at or above the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress science assessment. Compared with other advanced countries, 15-year-olds in the U.S. scored 24th in science on the Programme for International Student Assessment test in 2015.
Who is responsible for this debacle? I could certainly come up with a list, including checked-out parents, cruddy home lives, ADDICTION TO ELECTRONIC DEVICES, KIDS THAT ARE BEING DRUGGED TO OBLIVION, etc, etc, etc. But when it comes right down to it, the blame lies at the feet of a conglomeration of government organizations and bureaucrats, including the Department of Education. They have decided that it’s more important for kids (NOT OUR KIDS) to learn all the requirements to be officially considered “woke,” instead of learning things that really matter in life.
I guess that’s more important than studying physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, budgeting, compound interest, economics, philosophy, rhetoric, theology, etc. Or even how to read and think critically about what you just read — this post, Dr. B’s post, the comment section, etc. In an age when “science” is being weaponized against average citizens (see the earlier link on ‘digging into transhumansm’), it pays to look at things with a skeptical eye. My site included.
But let’s not stop with science education, because if we are honest with ourselves, we see the exact same phenomenon occurring in all areas of
childhood academics. Note that for the sake of time I grabbed the first links that came up on my search.
“We throw more money at our schools than just about any other country, and what do we get? For our K-12 school system, an honorary membership in the Third World,” writes Professor F. H. Buckley…. Buckley, a professor at George Mason University, added, “Not long ago, we had a superb public school system, but now we trail most countries. In math, we’re 38th in the world among developed countries in terms of how 15 year-olds perform. And it’s getting worse, not better.” From a 2018 issue of The Observer (How American Students Truly Rank in International Testing) by John Tures.
Here are a few headlines from national publications that came up immediately.
- Math scores stink in America…. Erin Richards from a February 2018 issue of USA Today
- Reading Scores Drop, Math Scores Low. Will High School Seniors be Ready for Graduation? From Erin Richards October 2020 article in USA Today
- Shocking Facts: 23 Statistics on Illiteracy in America A 2016 article by Rebecca Lake for Credit Donkey (yeah, I’d never heard of it either)
- What’s Holding Back American Teenagers? Our High Schools are a Disaster! Laurence Steinberg from a February 2014 issue of Slate
And every year the headlines mount as the problem worsens.
It’s not a new phenomenon. Although the quote below is not quite a decade old, I could have easily found thousands upon thousands of similar going back fifty years or more. The “slow slide” has become a veritable avalanche. For Pete’s sake; Vietnam (Vietnam, folks; a country whose infrastructure our national war machine had utterly destroyed by 1970) is 16 nations ahead of us in science. And 18 nations ahead in math.
The real wake up call, however, should be that despite the fact it’s promoted by a lot of people (especially those working inside the system), simply throwing more tax dollars at this problem is not providing, never did provide, and never will provide a solution to this problem. Or at least a solution that could even remotely be defined as “SUSTAINABLE” (see Professor Buckley’s earlier quote).
“In mathematics, 29 nations outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago,” reports Education Week. “In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.” In reading, 19 other locales scored higher than U.S. students — a jump from nine in 2009, when the last assessment was performed. From Bill Chappell’s 2013 article in NPR (U.S. Students Slide In Global Ranking On Math, Reading, Science)
How, then, shall I continue to live and run my practice? I’ll probably just continue living in my own little “anti-science” world. A world defined by QUACK CURES, QUESTIONABLE MEDICAL TREATMENTS THAT COST MILLIONS & MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, and BALD-FACED CON JOBS. It seems that increasing numbers of people are wanting to live in that same world.