They say that there are matters of faith, and matters of science. Science necessarily involves skepticism. Tenants, or theories, of science have to be tested. It is healthy and ultimately productive to dispute well-accepted theories.
Why, then is so much faith given to the theories circulating now? If one part of a theory is proven correct, why do we so unconditionally accept the whole package that comes with it?
Here are some cultural cows that I struggle with.
- GLOBAL WARMING
A few years ago, there was much talk of global warming. A number of scientists and would-be scientists were glibly saying that ozone depletion was causing this warming, and they went on to closely predict how and when the earth’s current cities would be overtaken by water.
Since then, the conversation has gone to the vaguer term of Climate Change.
It’s clear that climate exchange exists. Throughout the earth’s long history, the climate has warmed and cooled numerous times. What we do not know is the extent to which humans contribute to the current climate change.
Nevertheless, we do know that our recklessness and greed are adversely affecting the planet, and compromising its future. Environmental protections are needed. The Environmental Protection Agency should remain in full force.
- ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
This has become the coverall diagnosis for any child not performing up to social expectations. The reality is that the very existence of ADD is disputed in the scientific community.
It’s clear that the symptoms of this so-called disorder do exist. But they can come from a wide variety of different sources. Persons with serious mental illnesses now go undetected for years because they’ve been misdiagnosed with ADD or ADHD.
Yet the doctors will quickly prescribe Adderall or another widely used drug.
These drugs are now prescribed simply to enhance academic performance, a practice causing long-lasting addictions.
This medical sloppiness will go down in the Hall of Shame with the 18th century practice of bloodletting.
While certain religious groups will argue that dinosaurs never existed, proof of evolution is everywhere. We have witnessed evolution occurring in our brief human history: the evolution of horses from dog-sized beings to magnificent creatures, and the evolution of dogs from wolves. Even within our lifetimes, over the last century, we’ve seen the further evolution of humans into taller and longer-living creatures.
We still don’t know, however, how exactly evolution occurred, and there is still considerable room for interpretation. The evolutionary theory of random selection suggested by some biologists is an interpretation I’ve never bought into.
- THE ASTEROID
The reality is that dinosaurs did not quite go extinct. Some evolved into other creatures such as mammals. And dinosaurs have down into our world in the birds that surround us everywhere. The robins and cardinals that serenade us from the trees and ledges near our windows boast the bright plumage, quick movements and lilting songs developed by late dinosaurs.
The giant creatures of the Jurassic period did, of course, become extinct. But there is still not enough information for us to believe the theory pushed at us by large cliques of scientists: that the dinosaurs perished from an asteroid hitting the earth.
We still have viable alternate theories. It’s highly possible that the mass extinction was caused by disease. Or by a significant decline in the once-abundant food supply. It’s significant to me that Robert Bakker, the bearded cowboy who revolutionized paleontology, disputes the asteroid theory.
Why cover our ignorance in the unconditional acceptance of the hypotheses in circulation?
So I have spent my entire life throwing dirt at the otherwise uncontested cultural cows. All of which has led me to be considered a crank, and one relegated to the margins of society.
Looking back on my childhood, it was only natural that I would not do well in school, or that I would be considered an annoyance by my teachers. It’s a wonder I wasn’t thrown out.