Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 436(186)

Who Can We Trust?

I've entitled this podcast "Who Can We Trust"

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery

We have probably all participated in a conversation similar to this with either our parents or our own children:

“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 we may not believe you when you really need us to. That would be the very worst thing. We would never be able to tell if you're lying or telling the truth."

“Well, okay, I did it.”

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. 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 the whole society doesn't collective denies the truth.

Over fifty years ago my Teachers taught evolution as accepted scientific theory or scientific fact. Over fifty years ago. What happened?

There was no dispute. My Methodist minister still talked about God’s creating everything in seven days but no one argued the point publicly. 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 it. The super religious would say, “Well, how do we know how long a day was to God".  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 heavens. 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 not sure my opinion about my many issues are as valid as someone who has spent a bit more time and energy studying something. I’m having trouble understanding the selective denying of science on some things and the ultimate faith we place in it under other circumstances.

Like alternative medicine. It 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 constantly bewildered.

Of course 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.  Of course there are still mysteries and surprises but if I were going put money somewhere I would ride with science.

How can people 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, a periodically administered B12 injection, a staten for high cholesterol, an inhaler for asthma, or a pill for simple allergy.

Then there is the organic, no gluten, non GMO politically correct 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 sowing  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. They chose the bull,boar, or stallion with care. They rotated their crops based on reason not personal whims. 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. Call me naive but 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.  

It is so easy to reject science we don't understand until it becomes very personal: we have problems; the cataract, the tumor, the heart attack.Then medical science is accepted as our best hope. We go to the doctor.

Climate change seems to be the latest challenge to this predicament. Hopefully we won't have to wait until it gets too personal before we realize where we should turn for the truth.

This is Retirement Talk with something to think about.

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