Stand up for science

Was reading this today, an interview/discussion between two overachievers, Dr. Eric Topol and Dr. Peter Hotez. The core idea in their discussion is the rise of anti-science and how dangerous it is. The extreme factions of the US Republican party are busy selling the idea that scientists are the common person’s enemy, and the rest of US Republicans are just letting that happen without challenge. So if you watch Faux News or OAN or Newsmax, you are being led to believe that scientists are part of some secret liberal plot to control you (pro tip – they’re not – that’s crazy town), and you shouldn’t believe what they tell you. Hotez has gotten on the radar of extremist/conservative groups and is now in the running to replace Fauci as the most hated scientist. That’s a problem.

The trouble with that is twofold. One, Hotez’s professional story is just short of mythical. His life’s mission is finding treatments (cures!) for parasitic and viral disease. He tackles the problems that big pharma won’t because there’s not enough profit in the cures. He and another MD have created an open-source (no patents) Covid vaccine (Corbevax) now used around the world, all without big pharma baggage or US taxpayer funding. There are now hundreds of millions of people who have gotten his vaccine and get to live their lives without serious disease, all due to this one dude. Not Pfizer, not Glaxo-Kline – just one dedicated and smart person. That’s damn impressive.

The second problem with Hotez or any other serious scientist being demonized by extremists is that we need them more than ever going forward. We *need* serious, accomplished scientists working on global problems of overpopulation, hunger, pollution, species extinction, climate change, and disease. Humanity’s problems are bigger/tougher than ever, and science is our only way to avoid massive loss of life and suffering. More pandemics are coming. Environmental problems (pollution, deforestation, etc.) are only getting worse. The last thing we need is for 50% or more of the world to be taught to distrust the very people who have a chance of solving some of our big problems.

I’ll say this – the demonization of science and scientists by the extreme Right is nothing but evil. It is pure nihilism, intended to hasten the downfall of what little civilization we’ve achieved. I don’t have any problem calling those who promote anti-science as evil. It’s like something out of The Wheel of Time – a dark force aimed at destroying the world, breaking the wheel.

Regular people need to stand up and defend our geeky brethren, the folks who have a chance of changing our course in the face of global problems.