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Episode 186 Denialism

 

“I didn’t do it,”

“I saw you do it”

“No I didn’t do it.

“Listen. Just tell the truth. Don’t deny something that’s true.”

“But Dad…”

“The worst thing you can do is lie about something. Don’t deny something that is true. If people can’t trust you to tell the truth then we loose all trust. That would be the very worst thing. Do you understand."

"Yes".

"Well?"

“Well, okay, I did it.”

 

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

We have all participated in a conversation similar to that. We all know that to deny the truth is a massive mistake. Yet when I look around today I see truth being denied all around me. How can we continue to exist as a society if denying reality becomes common place? This is one of my major concerns as a retired person. I have grandchildren and I think I owe them a place in which to live where we do not collective deny the truth.

 

Teachers taught evolution as accepted scientific theory in my junior high school over 50 years ago. There was little to no dispute. My Methodist minister still talked about God’s creating everything in seven days but no one argued the point publically. Teachers taught one thing and the church taught another. We were free to believe either or both. Or neither if we wanted. People around me never denied evolution. They were more likely to argue the validity of the Bible as literal truth. “How do we know how long a day was to God,” they would say.  Then they would shrug their shoulders, shake their head and go on about their business. Science was not denied.

 

Then Sputnik flew across the sky and our belief in science soared in the heaven figuratively and literally. Science and math teachers were granted special attention. Men in white coats gained even more status.

 

When did that all change? Today it seems like we have taken the “equality” line out of the Declaration of Independence and applied it to everything. I’m having trouble understanding the selective denying of science on some things and the ultimate faith we place in it under other circumstances.

 

Alternative medicine is one of the areas that I don’t understand. I thought snake oil salesmen had disappeared from the landscape. Yet I have read some alternative medicine magazines, talked to some of the providers, and listened to some of their rational. I’m always bewildered.

 

I guess folk medicine will always be with us. And of course, sometimes it works and that is wonderful. Other times it ends in tragedy. I keep thinking of the benefits of pasteurized milk, vaccines for chickenpox, mumps, polio, tetanus, etc. I can’t imagine turning my back on such achievements and the science that produced them; Anesthesia, injections, X-rays, or antiseptics. The list is too long.  

 

How do people get by deny all of this stuff? There are magazines, TV shows, newspaper articles, organized groups including some political ones who take great pride in attacking science and its harvest. I would wonder how many of those people are kept alive by a small pill for thyroid trouble, gastrointestinal reflux, high cholesterol, asthma, or a simple allergy.

 

Then there is the organic, fresh food movement. They don’t approve of food that has been tampered with by science. I keep thinking of early man when they first domesticated animals and discovered the power of seeding and harvesting grain. From that point on almost all food we have consumed has been modified by man.

 

Growing up in Iowa I vividly recall the care farmers took breeding their livestock and choosing the seed for their crops. Nothing was left up to nature. Today science has discovered how to modify livestock and crops in the laboratory rather than the barn or the field. I don’t know why people can’t accept this step in the chain of farming innovations. Of course most of us cannot picture how someone can splice genes and manipulate chromosomes. It is easy to deny what we don’t understand.

 

I’m not sure what we retired folks can do to improve upon the situation. I would certainly like to leave my grandkids a world in which dependence on science is not denigrated or destroyed. Denying the truth isn’t good for young kids or older folks.  

This is Retirement Talk.