Among the key virtues of heightened future consciousness are the love of learning and the pursuit of personal growth through the acquisition of new knowledge. Anti-science thinking, especially in the name of personal freedom of choice, runs counter to these virtues.
Recently a national poll was conducted in the United States asking people if they would agree to receive a Corona Virus-19 vaccine inoculation if and when one became available; roughly one-third of the surveyed population answered no. Why would so many people reject a scientifically researched and tested vaccine for Corona Virus-19? As evidenced by numerous news stories, some significant percentage of people have also resisted, often aggressively, wearing medically recommended droplet-blocking face masks. Indeed, on many occasions, not wearing masks has been encouraged.
As a few examples, thousands of young adults, mostly without masks, were packed together at an indoor political rally (at a church!?) were the political speaker, modeling such foolish and dangerous behavior, did not wear a mask. (Hypocritically the speaker kept his distance from the crowd.) In a recent viral video, a man in a check-out line at Costco
announced that he wasn't going to wear a mask because he believed in freedom. This last week, a quarter of a million mostly mask-less motorcycle enthusiasts swarmed to Sturgis, South Dakota for an annual biker extravaganza. And yesterday one of us saw a car bumper sticker that read "Stick your masks up your ass!"
You could argue that these people have the individual right and freedom of choice to not wear a mask (or to agree to a vaccine inoculation). This right, however, has limits, which these champions of freedom do not address. If masks (or inoculations) will prevent the spreading of the deadly virus to other people, as has been asserted by the top epidemiologists and medical professionals across the globe, then choosing not to wear a mask (or receive an inoculation) is an obvious and dangerous risk not only to the individual but also to others.
We obviously do not have the individual right or freedom to infect other human beings. In this case, defending one's own freedom is an unethical or immoral act.
Perhaps the anti-vaccine and anti-mask individuals will contend that the scientific recommendations are not to be trusted. Perhaps there is a conspiracy going on among almost all the world's scientists and medical professionals regarding the virus, its severity, the value of masks, and/or the efficacy and true purpose of the vaccine when it becomes available. All such views have been voiced repeatedly. Indeed, contributing to this distrust of or antagonism toward science are the expressed opinions of the President of the United States, who on numerous occasions has downplayed or criticized the views and recommendations of medical professionals, going so far as to state that "no one saw the pandemic coming" (which is simply not true).
But let us imagine that we are sending a space probe to Mars, and the President decides to question or criticize the astronomers and space engineers' calculations regarding the necessary fuel or correct trajectory for the launching of the probe. Such a view would seem ludicrous. Yet, medical professionals and scientists, who specialize in the study and treatment of disease, get questioned by the President and by a significant percentage of the population.
So, if your appendix bursts are you going to question the surgical treatment of the doctors? If your computer breaks, are you going to question the diagnosis and repair recommendations of the computer specialist? Of course, the scientist, doctor, engineer, and technician could be wrong, but these individuals usually bring extensive, in-depth knowledge, based on science-based degrees and practical experience to their areas of expertise. All other things being equal, I would trust my doctor on medical matters, the astrophysicist on space probes, and the computer engineer on computer repairs vastly more than I would trust an uninformed, uneducated opinion, whether from a politician or some joker on the street.
Deep down, what seems to be going on here is a pervasive and hypocritical antagonism toward science and scientists. Why else would anyone be influenced by a scientifically ignorant leader criticizing science? Why else would so many people, the freedom issue aside, choose not wear masks or receive a vaccine inoculation?
I use the expression "hypocritical antagonism" because extending the argument over trusting scientists introduced above, I would ask whether all those who don't trust science would give up their computers, cars, cellphones, and TV sets? There are a huge number of essential features of modern human life that are grounded in a scientific understanding of the world and in technological applications of science. If you don't trust (or believe) in science, turn in your AC units, refrigerators, baths and showers, clothing, all your electrical appliances and lighting systems, your stereo systems, soaps and deodorants, hot water heaters, toilet bowls, perfumes, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies, guns and rifles, probably most of your furniture, and assorted materials included in your houses. No more dams, airplanes, railroads, buildings, highways, bridges, and modern agriculture. Let's all just go back to living in caves or wood cabins, wearing animal skins, and cooking our freshly gathered and hunted food, often contaminated, over smokey, dirty fires. People who distrust science (and are invariably often ignorant of it) fail to realize that innumerable elements supporting their own lifestyle are a product of modern science and its technological applications. If you don't want to wear a mask or get inoculated, give me your cellphones, cars, and guns, and go live in the woods where you can't hurt anybody.
One could argue that science and modern technology has had lots of bad effects on human society, such as pollution and weapons of mass destruction, but these effects are the result more of big capitalist corporations motivated by profits, and antagonistic political leaders in power wars. Of course, scientists and science make mistakes, but that is part of the power of science: to admit to its mistakes, learn from them, and make progress. Science evolves and that is good.
Recently, a short video aired on TV with a reporter interviewing a woman attending a political rally. The reporter asked her if anything would change her mind about who she was supporting. The woman proudly replied that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- would change her mind. She seemed to believe that her absolute commitment was a good thing.
Science makes progress by opening the human mind to nature, studying nature, doing experiments to test theories and hypotheses, and coming to conclusions, or changing hypotheses based on evidence. This approach to life and understanding the world is admirable and has led to numerous benefits throughout human society, not the least of which is to progressively enlighten us on the depth and intricacy of the world we live within. Aside from giving us computers and automobiles, science has expanded our consciousness of reality immensely more than any other single human endeavor. The vast amount of scientific discovery and learning is light years beyond in scope and depth any ancient pre-scientific belief systems. We should be proud of the incredible amount of new knowledge humans have diligently gained through science.
The woman in the interview, who has closed her mind off to growth and further enlightenment, is anti-science, anti-knowledge, and a hypocrite; she should feel ethical or moral shame in her stance. And, not surprisingly, she was not wearing a mask. Close your mind and breathe freely. Breathe in-and out-the deadly germs. (Germs are a discovery of science that people once refused to believe in.)
Do you have the freedom of choice to be willfully ignorant? Do you have the right to spread your ignorance to others? Where is the credibility or integrity in voicing opinions that are not thoughtfully grounded in a scientific understanding of reality? Should you bite the hand that feeds you? Is it ethical and responsible to disregard all that we have learned through science? During the pandemic, the degree to which many still decide to close their minds to the advances of science and to not learn and grow has become glaringly more apparent and it is highly disturbing. Political and religious leaders, who question or criticize science and scientists, in air-conditioned, techno-empowered facilities should go out and try preaching standing on a boulder in the woods with the mosquitoes and the flies.
Heightened future consciousness is grounded in the pursuit of knowledge and learning as a foundation for moving forward wisely into the future. What we see around us though are many people, sadly including many public leaders, who believe, and blabber out across the media, that the way into the future is to walk off the cliff, contending as they do so, that the law of gravity is a conspiracy (or perhaps "fake news" or "godless atheism") propagated by science, intending to rob us of our souls or personal freedoms. Nothing could be further from the truth.