Science and the Era of False Information

Doctors are part of the most trusted profession in the world – the medical profession. The medical profession consists of doctors, nurses, researchers, professors, and students. The medical profession is a discipline of science as a whole. It’s the science of the human body and the body’s inner workings.

Other disciplines of science that are important to our society include engineering, geology, hydrology, agriculture and soil science, meteorology, biology, chemistry, physics, etc. Every discipline of science has made an impact on the way our society functions today.

Without an understanding of physics, we would not have airplanes. Without an understanding of meteorology, we could not interpret weather radar and prepare for incoming extreme events. Without an understanding of hydrology, we would not know where our water comes from and where it goes. Without an understanding of geology, we would not have the fossil fuels we have so depended on since the Industrial Revolution. Without engineering, there wouldn’t have been an Industrial Revolution, nor would we have the ability to manage the power grid or flood gates or a great many other things.

Scientific advancement has moved our society and our world forward. We no longer live in the dark and cold, dying at ripe old age of 30 from a broken femur. We live longer, because of science. We live with electricity and running water, because of science. We fly around the world to visit friends, because of science.

So much of these scientific advancements are taken for granted. The theory of gravity. The theory of evolution. The law of inertia.

So why are other scientific advancements disputed and disparaged, dismissed as false?

This is particularly true in the 21st century of the medical profession. Suddenly, doctors and nurses and immunologists and epidemiologists and other medical researchers aren’t to be trusted. This is despite their years of schooling and studying, their dedication to their field through hours of patient care and research. Anyone with access to Google and YouTube considers their “knowledge” to be equivalent of someone who has made the medical profession their life’s work.

This is not to say that advocating for your own health is bad. You know your body best. You live with it everyday. And if your doctor is not listening to you or taking you seriously, you can search until you find one who will listen. Women with PCOS and endometriosis know this struggle well, as it takes years for a concrete diagnosis.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, some people began to move away from childhood vaccination, claiming that the vaccination did more harm than good. This movement, unfortunately, has grown. Diseases that were once eradicated, like the measles, are making a resurgence. People romanticize the childhood diseases of yore, thinking it’s just your child snuggled up in bed with a bowl of chicken noodle soup and a box of tissues. The reality is much harsher. The reason vaccines were created for these diseases is because they kill children.

One of the primary arguments of the anti-vaccination crowd is that vaccines cause autism. This is not true, and has been repeatedly disproven. But for argument’s sake, let’s say that it was true. You would rather have a dead kid than an autistic kid? That shows how deep our hatred of the autistic community runs.

Moving forward to the current global pandemic of Sars-Cov-2, more commonly known as COVID-19, or just “the covid”. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson have all received emergency authorization of their covid vaccine. Pfizer and Moderna are undergoing additional trials for a broader age range in order to achieve full FDA authorization.

My husband and I have both been fully vaccinated, by Moderna. My parents and both of my sisters are fully vaccinated. All three of my living grandparents are fully vaccinated as well. My maternal grandfather works at an urgent care clinic where he sees covid patients.

For us, the choice was easy. We knew the scientists had done their work, and trusted them. So we got our shots. In fact, two weeks after my second shot of Moderna, I got pregnant (so there’s my anecdotal evidence, as well as the empirical evidence from the researchers of reproductive medicine). I am now 16.5 weeks pregnant with a healthy baby girl.

But anti-vaxxers? They say the vaccine was rushed. They say masks are just virtue-signalling pieces of fabric that collect bacteria and lower your oxygen levels. They scream that it’s oppression to be asked to wear a mask, and child abuse for children to wear them. They say that the vaccine doesn’t work since some fully vaccinated people are having breakthrough infections. They say that if you just listen to medical professionals, you’re elitist and a sheep, and you should do your own research.

First, the vaccine was not rushed. Scientists have been working on a vaccine for Sars-Cov-1 since 2001, and since COVID-19 is Sars-Cov-2, these viruses are related. Therefore, the twenty years of research done on the other virus’ vaccine was helpful in creating a vaccine for this virus.

Second, if your mask is collecting bacteria, you’re not disposing of it after a single use. Masks are single-use items. Cloth masks should be washed after one wear.

Third, masks do not lower your oxygen levels. Oximetry proves this. What does lower your oxygen levels are health conditions such as pneumonia and COPD. If masks did lower oxygen levels, doctors and nurses wouldn’t make it through their workday without passing out from lack of oxygen. They have always worn masks.

Fourth, it is not oppression to wear a mask. Stop trying so hard to be persecuted. Wearing a mask protects yourself and others. It’s about public health, and loving thy neighbor.

Fifth, it’s not child abuse for children to wear a mask. Again, it’s about public health. Children under the age of 10 were not required to wear a mask for the original strain of COVID-19, but the Delta variant is more aggressive, so children aged 2 and older are recommended to mask up, as per the CDC. In Arkansas alone, two children have already died from covid, four are currently on ventilators, and there are currently twenty-four children hospitalized.*

Sixth, breakthrough infections are rare. When they do occur, fully vaccinated people have mild to moderate cases of covid infection, and are significantly less likely to require hospitalization. Breakthrough infections occur because of the mutating virus. The vaccine was developed against the original strain of the virus, not it’s variants. The longer people stall on getting the vaccine, the more time the virus has to continue mutating and become more vaccine-resistant. Of the 148 people currently hospitalized in Little Rock and North Little Rock Baptist hospitals, only 4 are fully vaccinated, and they’re all elderly.*

And last but not least, it’s not elitist to listen to medical professionals on a medical issue. They’re the experts. Your two hours on YouTube and Google are not equivalent to their years of studying and work. When they change their mind about mask mandates, it’s not because they were lying before, it’s because they have new information. Since when did we belittle intelligence instead of aspiring to it?

What I don’t understand about people who refuse to wear a mask or refuse the vaccine is this: do they also refuse to wear their seatbelt? Refuse to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or motorcycle? Refuse to put their phone in airplane mode while in flight? Refuse to limit their liquids in their airplane carry-on luggage?

Why is this science dismissed as false? What will it take for people to hear the truth? Will it be their own gasps as they struggle for breath in a hospital bed? Will it be the last video chat from a family member who is on a ventilator? Will it be the number of school children that will be hospitalized this fall from adults’ failure to take action sooner?

* These numbers are current as of Monday, July 26, 2021.

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