John Andersen: Ignore science at your peril
COMMUNITY COLUMNIST

John Andersen: Ignore science at your peril

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You probably never knew Daredevil and Flat Earth theorist Michael “Mad Mike” Hughes.

Mike died in a rocket crash a few weeks back. Mike tried to launch himself to near space so he could confirm his theory that the world was flat.

Mike had planned to take photographs proving his theory; unfortunately Mike proved that the laws of physics and rocketry were real. Of course, he also reinforced Newton’s Theory of gravity and mass.

Years ago, an election campaign was run on the basis of “eggheads” verses normal, common-sense folks. Science was played down and the appeal to voters was common sense overruled science. That campaign was between former General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.

If you look up the term egghead in the dictionary you find this: “an intellectual; a very studious and academic person” or more to the point: often used before another noun “a bunch of egghead scientists” The term was meant to be somewhat insulting.

Thus, you had Eisenhower the man of the people versus Adlai Stevenson the studious intellectual. Just as a reminder, this was but seven years after the Atom Bomb ended WWII. That was science in action done, for better or worse, by eggheads.

One curious fact, if you can call it a fact: During the past few years, many people have hidden behind the notion that “good old common sense will win the day.” I have many posts on my Facebook page that say “don’t confuse education with a degree, you can be educated without a degree”

I agree with that statement from time to time. I have found that the intersection between an education and common sense is, to quote from an old movie, where “a man just has to know his limitations.”

I fear once again that is where our train leaves the tracks and derails. People refuse to know their limitations. Which brings us to our current crisis in this country, the coronavirus.

The coronavirus is the intersection between education and common sense. To deal with the coronavirus, to develop a vaccine, a strategy for detection and prevention, you need a formal education. By education I do not mean just sitting around with your buddies at the weekly breakfast meeting at Tom’s Diner. I mean graduation from a college with a degree in biology, microbiology, entomology or a doctor of medicine.

Does that mean you can disregard common sense? Of course not.

Common sense tells you to avoid any disease using proper hygiene (wash your hands, covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze, avoiding high concentrations of people with flu like symptoms) and educating yourself on both the progress of the disease and what you can do if you become sick.

Pay attention to your local and national health-care professionals and avoid the political types who want you to feel good all under; and those that tell you that things are well under control.

Also don’t buy into the nonsense that the national media are somehow playing this situation for a political gain or some kind of political viewpoint. Become a critical thinker, which just means sort out the facts for yourself using the best available information.

Science does play a role in our lives. Science is playing that role now in the coronavirus epidemic; just as it did in polio years ago. If you grew up in the 1950s, you knew people who contracted polio and when the vaccine became available you went with your parents to get it.

Science has allowed us to conquer many diseases, almost wipe out the measles, mumps and rubella. Polio is gone and the fears of summers long ago are gone with it.

Our recent outbreaks of measles in the United States comes from ignorance, not from wisdom. Sometimes religion and personal belief in the public square must be put aside for the common good.

What we know about the coronavirus will continue to grow. A vaccine will be available eventually and people will get it. Until that time, if you get sick, no matter from what, stay home.

Your friends, coworkers and neighbors will thank you.

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