Junkfood Science: Commentary: Can science be trusted?

November 17, 2006

Commentary: Can science be trusted?

Because science is biased and has been violated in so many ways — not only to market special interests, but to support the dominant discourse — can or should we believe in it? Many are distrustful and wary of science today. They may prefer to believe in things with roots in ancient wisdoms and feel there must be something to them since so many people think they’ve been helped by them.

“Science” has always been misused to support politics, agendas and the dominant cultural groupthink. That isn’t actually “science.” I call it “pop science” using the cloaks of “science.” True science is not found in all of the bias, overstatements of a study’s significance, and the spin to support what “everyone knows” or to promote special interests, beliefs or social agendas — such as against obesity, bad foods, unacceptable lifestyles, undesirable people or business.

Real science is a process of exploration and critical thinking, like good detective work. That’s all the scientific process really is. It’s a lot of fun. It is questioning and thinking critically about everything. The scientific facts are the actual evidence carefully, impartially derived, examined and verified. True science is objective and neutral. There’s nothing to fear by what we might find. While science can never prove something or provide definitive answers, it can provide us with a body of sound evidence that can be trusted to help us make good decisions. Decisions that will help and not hurt.

Scientific knowledge progresses, but I have never known anything to have been disproven along the way that was sound in the first place.

It’s easy to point to phrenology, eugenics or other beliefs that were once endorsed by popular science and think that is reason to distrust science. But those were never good science. Those were using science to support beliefs and prejudices, as well as social and political agendas. Meanwhile, real scientists were seeing the truth in the evidence and were trying to speak out. Then, like today, the best science and scientists are silenced and squashed because it isn’t popular,and goes against what everyone “knows to be true” and the forces running the show. This is dangerous stuff. The good science is often not popular or politically correct.

Together, let’s delve into an exploration of science with a spirit of discovery and questioning. And not be afraid we could find things we’ve long believed to be true, or that sound intuitively correct, might not be. What we will find is that the soundest science actually brings the most reassuring information and good news for us all.

© Szwarc 2006

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