Monday, January 31, 2011

Both Sides For Now

Chris Mooney:

[I]ncreasingly, evolution and climate change are being tied together in attacks on science education. The strategy tends to be the same: Students are encouraged to “critique” or examine "strengths and weaknesses" or hear “both sides”—but only a few hot button subjects are singled out.

I get nervous when people put "both sides" in quotes (except when it comes to slavery and the Holocaust) because it suggests an effort to anathematize and perhaps someday punish an unpopular point of view. But there I go, putting "both sides" in quotes myself on two subjects, and I'll bet I can think of others (giving women the vote; anything that's illegal in a free society; I'm rolling now!). May we at least agree that the smaller the number of subjects about which we try to close off intelligent, civil discussion, the better?


Shivaun Wilkinson said...

However, not all sides are weighted the same. I get tired of arguments that actually have no factual basis getting the same air-time as otherwise solid arguments. The thoughts of movie stars are weighted the same as scientists. Not all issues actually have two valid sides.

Fr. John said...

True enough! But which issues don't have two valid sides, in your view?

Barry Fernelius said...

How about:

"Vaccinations cause autism."
"The evidence that we've gathered so far does not show a correlation between vaccinations and autism."

Researchers were not able to replicate a study that suggested that vaccinations were a cause for autism. Yet even after the initial study of vaccinations and autism was shown to be an outright fraud, there is still a former Playboy playmate who shrilly insists that vaccinations should be avoided.

And we live in a country where she's influential enough to affect vaccination rates. I find this utterly mind boggling.

Fr. John said...

I buy that, Barry. There can't be two sides to strict falsehoods. Thanks!

Shivaun Wilkinson said...

I completely agree. The frustration is that the talking heads on tv do not credential people properly. Jenny McCarthy is allowed to have an opinion but lets quit showing her like she is an expert.

I see the same in the climate change debate often. They will have scientists discussing it and then bring up a political pundit to contradict. Their credentials are just not equally weighted.