Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Piggy-backing on the Enlightenment

Johann Hari, a British journalist, sees a growing problem with the anti-scientific belief systems ranging from Christian and Islamic fundamentalists on the one hand to upholders of alternative science such as “the deniers of anthropogenic global warming, the peddlers of ‘alternative’ medicine, the animal rights activists who claim that experimenting on animals is totally useless.” At the same time these very same people benefit from the advances of the very science they denounce. He argues,

For too long, people have been allowed to piggy-back on the Enlightenment,
enjoying its incredible fruits but jeering at it as “soulless” or fundamentally
flawed. But how many people would cling to these irrationalist anti-science
theories if they actually had to feel the consequences in their own blood and

He has recommended a solution to this problem: “We should all carry Ethical Consistency cards that declare our beliefs about science and are checked before we receive any medical treatment.” No doctor would then give treatment derived from a system the cardholder objected to or did not believe in. Among the potential boxes on the card to check off would be:

Box one: Creationists
Box two: Believers in alternative medicine
Box three: Postmodernists who thinks rational “Western” science is just “one discourse among many.”
Box four: Global warming deniers.
Box five: Religious fundamentalists who believe women are irrational and inferior and should be confined to the home
Box six: Right-to-lifers who oppose stem cell research.

You may read his column in its entirety here.

1 comment:

LaReinaCobre said...

I'm not familiar with some of the groups of people he was talking about. Like the people he threatened to treat with African witch doctors and reiki. I couldn't tell if he was exaggerating or referring to specific, large-scale arguments.