Fantastic article by Stephanie M. Lee:
Welcome to the vast universe of self-built social media empires devoted to spreading false, misleading, and polarizing science and health news – sometimes further and wider than the real information. Here, climate change is a government-sponsored hoax, fluoridated water is poisonous, cannabis can cure cancer, and airplanes are constantly spraying pesticides and biological waste into the air. Genetically modified food is destroying humanity and the planet. Vaccines are experimental, autism-causing injections forced on innocent babies. We can’t trust anything that we eat, drink, breathe, or medicate with, nor rely on physicians and public health agencies to act in our best interests. Between the organic recipes and menacing stock images of syringes and pills, a clear theme emerges: Everything is rigged – by doctors, Big Pharma, Monsanto, the FDA – and the mainstream media isn’t telling us. (Also, there’s usually a link to buy vitamins.) This messaging reflects a new, uniquely conspiratorial strain of libertarianism that hijacks deeply intimate issues – your body, your health, your children’s health. It shares magnificently.
Indeed, gone are the days when these types of stories would struggle for traction in a media landscape dominated by a few television networks, newspapers, and radio stations. Now anyone on Facebook can take their snake oil straight to the masses – and their message is reverberating in the highest levels of government. Vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who says he’s in touch with Trump about a “vaccine safety commission” recently announced a $100,000 “challenge” to prove their safety. Andrew Wakefield, who helped start the anti-vaccine movement with a fraudulent 1998 study that linked vaccines to autism, showed up at an inaugural ball. The president has called climate change a “hoax” and appointed a skeptic to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Pseudoscience is closer than ever to the mainstream.
Clearly, not vaccinating your children is child abuse and should be treated as such; not only does it endanger the lives of your own children, but also the lives of other children who may rely on herd immunity because they can’t take vaccinations for proper medical reasons. The fact that these child abusers are this close to the president of the United States and the US government should send chills down the spine of every responsible parent.
The war on science is in full swing, and they’ve already won the White House and US Congress. The amount of damage that can be – and is being – done is staggering.
This way of presenting these subjects as some coherent ideology is, for me, quite contrived.
Vaccines, global warming, GMO, big pharma, science, pesticides… are different subjects. Putting them together as some big conspiracy is also an anti-science behaviour. Various people with different political opinions and personal lives can have valid or bogus opinions about these subjects.
For example : Vaccines have saved billions of people, but big pharma has used questionable methods for commercialising some vaccines whose efficiency was not really proved, used doubtful additives to make them longer lasting and save money, the CIA made false vaccination campains … : This is a complex subject that cannot be summarised in a poll “Are you for or against vaccines”. Yet media reduce everything to for/against pie charts, whether its global warning, GMO or whether cavemen have hunted Tyrannosaurs (if someone is asking the question, it is because there is a debate, right ?)
Most people don’t really care about science (or history or many other “important” subjects), they never did, and maybe social media makes that ignorance more visible, but I don’t think that is really new. Politics are talking a lot of thing they dont understand, but it is not new either.
It is amazing to see so many people use more and more complex technological artefacts, but never try to understand how they work. It is in the realm of magic, so everything could be possible.
Or it is new as a general trend of some form of decadence, gloriously illustrated by the return of religious bigotry. The spread of ignorance is a consequence, not the root cause.
Edited 2017-03-09 00:31 UTC