Abandonment of science can lead to an age of un-enlightenment from which there maybe no return.
Modern day science emerged from the scientific revolution when developments in mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology-which included human anatomy-transformed societal views about nature. The revolution moved our understanding of the world away from pure assumption to one of observation with an open mind, through four distinct causes.
-Collaboration between 17th century scientists and philosophers with members of the mathematical and astronomical communities.
-Realization by scientists of the inadequacies of medieval methods resulting in a need to devise new ones.
-Access to a legacy of European, Greek, and Middle Eastern epistemologies that could be used as a starting point for future work, either by disproving or building on theorems.
-Creation of institutions such as the British Royal Society which helped validate science as a legitimate field of study by providing an outlet for the publication of scientists’ work.
The scientific revolution is cited to have begun with Nicolaus Copernicus’ 1543 publication of On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres whereby he introduced the heliocentric model of the universe, replacing the earth at its’ center with that of the sun.
However, it wasn’t until Sir Francis Bacon put forth his Baconian Method of Observation in his 1620 publication of Novum Organum, or New Method did Copernicus’ theory take root. It gained credibility through discoveries made by Johannes Kepler and Galileo, culminating in Isaac Newton’s Principia which formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation.
The Baconian Method later referred to as the scientific method has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting of systematic observation, measurement, and experiment through the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
This new methodology not only resulted in the heliocentric model of the universe but also in:
-The study of human anatomy based upon the dissection of human corpses rather than animals, as practiced for centuries.
-The discovery and study of magnetism and electricity.
-The modernization of disciplines such as dentistry, physiology, chemistry, and optics.
-The invention of tools that deepened the understanding of sciences including mechanical calculators, the steam engine, refracting and reflecting telescopes, the vacuum pump, and the mercury barometer.
Empirical evidence became the backbone of science with the methodological approach founded by John Locke in 1689 when he put forth An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in which he stated, “The only true knowledge that could be accessible to the human mind was that which was based on experience.”
Science came to play a leading role in the 18th century Age of Enlightenment which ultimately displaced religious authority, and disciplines seen until then as legitimately scientific.
Scientific achievements were slow and tedious for centuries, advancing ever so faster with the dawn of the industrial revolution. However, with the birth of the computer which lead quickly to the digital age science began leap frogging more quickly than the human mind could adequately experience.
Today we role out technological advancements at near lightning speed. When infused with the abundance of streaming internet data many of us have abandoned the scientific method for politically charged conspiratorial theories that have resulted in an over abundance of pseudo-science and false claims.
We have begun to demonize scientific facts categorizing them as false information when they do not jive with our beliefs. We have abandoned empirical evidence which contradicts our core values and emotionally misguided perspectives.
Many people “feel” the vaccine research was rushed too quickly ignoring the fact that virologists have been studying SARS, (severe acute respiratory syndrome), associated with Coronavirus, since February 2003 when it first emerged in China and spread to four other countries.
The vaccines did not start from scratch overnight. They were already in progress. However, as empirical science dictates observation, trial and error still needed to be conducted given this particular “new” strain and for the sake of public safety-which inevitably takes time.
Damned if they do and damned if they don’t, virologists find themselves criticized simultaneously for moving too quickly and too slowly, with anti-vaccers, who believe the vaccines are unsafe, claiming they have done their own research. What does that mean? Lacking both the mental and physical capacities to conduct proper scientific research derived via the centuries old “scientific method” their “research” consists of merely reading what others, lacking similar capacities, have posted online.
We have abandoned rational, empirical evidence for pseudo-science and in so doing we have cost many of our fellow humans their lives. If we continue down this path of abandoning scientific evidence along with established institutions and our democratic values, I fear our country if not the world will end up in a violent, ignorant state of anarchy culminating in a morbid, dark place from which we may never return.
For if we replace rational thought and scientific evidence with fear based, conspiratorial, un-enlightened reasoning what will we have left?