If you don’t have time to watch the full 4 minute 42 second video clip, at least read the following quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson concerning the dangers we face, not just as a nation, but as a species, when people in powerful positions deny science:
When you have people who don’t know much about science, standing in denial of it, and rising to power, that is a recipe for a complete dismantling of our informed democracy.
His statement was followed by a clip of then-Rep. Mike Pence saying, “Let us demand that educators around America teach evolution, not as fact, but as theory.”
It’s a terrifying thought to know that we have an administration, and a party with the majority control of Congress, that, as a collective, doubt or deny indisputable scientific facts like evolution and human-caused climate change. That there are millions of people who’d have no problem voting for politicians who’d publicly declare their belief that the Earth is 6000-years-old, evolution is a myth, and climate change is a hoax. That it’s 2017 and we are still battling religious fanatics who, just as they have for centuries, continue to deny provable scientific facts.
In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned alive by the Catholic Church, not because he doubted the existence of God, but because he felt their version of God was too small. He dared to say the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe and that there were likely an infinite number of other galaxies containing many other planets and suns. He was literally sentenced to death by Pope Clement VIII — because he spoke about scientific facts religious fanatics refused to believe.
Here we are, 417 years later, and we’re still dealing with people in powerful positions who continue to deny science.
Though Tyson isn’t just talking about those on the far-right who reject scientific facts. The video also clearly calls out the “anti-vaxxers” who deny overwhelmingly accepted medical science, insisting vaccines cause various health issues in children, including autism.
“You can’t say, ‘I choose not to believe in E=mc2,’” Tyson stated. “You don’t have that option! When you have an established, scientific emerging truth it is true whether or not you believe in it.”
“The sooner you understand that, the faster we can get on with the political conversations about how to solve the problems that face us,” he added. “Recognize what science is, and allow it to be what it can and should be: In the service of civilization.”
It goes back to the often-used saying about facts being real whether or not someone wants to believe in them. Being in denial about something that’s factual doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, it just means those denying science are making the conscious effort to not believe it.
The absurd denial that humans are driving climate change we’re seeing by most Republicans isn’t going to stop global temperatures from getting warmer, droughts from becoming worse, or sea levels rising. One of these days large parts of Florida, as well as many other coastal areas, are going to be under water. Though once we reach that level, it’s going to be too late to do anything about it.
Just like irrationally fearing vaccines isn’t going to keep children safer when we see outbreaks of diseases we haven’t seen in decades killing children all over the country.
Here’s a simple saying everyone should take with them: The absence of 100 percent scientific consensus doesn’t disprove scientific fact.
By that I mean, just because 1-3 percent of scientists might disagree with elements of an overwhelmingly accepted fact, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. There are always going to be “sources” out there who claim some sort of fact isn’t real. There are highly educated people in this world who think dinosaurs and humans lived together, that the moon landing wasn’t real, and smoking isn’t dangerous. An overwhelming scientifically accepted fact didn’t become so haphazardly. It took years of research, by many of the smartest people on the planet, testing and retesting theories before something becomes widely accepted as factual within the scientific community.
As I wrote a few weeks ago, human beings are going to be the most intelligent, as well as the dumbest, species to inhabit this planet. We’ll likely be the most intellectual form of life to ever dominate this planet, but also the first to cause its own extinction. And the tragic part of this story is we know it — and we can take steps to prevent it — yet too many refuse to do what’s necessary to save the only planet we have.
Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s comments below: