It's just science [Editorial]

Science is an evolving phenomenon with incredible advances from generation to generation.

There was a time people believed the earth was flat, and there were obvious dangers of going too close to the edge.

There have been times when bloodlettings, the act of opening a wound to let blood flow out in the belief that it would free a body of whatever was ailing a person, were sanctioned by scientists.

There was also a time when science scoffed at Dr. Joseph Lister’s assertions in the late 1800s about germs being the cause of a variety of human maladies. Lister became known as the creator of what was called antiseptic surgery. Lister advocated that people wash their hands with soap, especially doctors about to perform surgery, to avoid the spread of disease.

Need we remind anyone about those scientists who fervently claimed smoking tobacco had no ill effects on the health of smokers? Or the doctors featured in advertising claiming said it was good for people?

In these fractious times, people believe what they want to believe and, thanks to the Internet, can quickly and easily find research and scientists who have studied a particular topic and concluded that whatever position the person has staked out is valid.

Harford County Council President Richard Slutzky’s “scientific” assertion last week, when seen in the times we live, is not the least bit surprising.

Slutzky said that those advocating that the earth’s warming and the planet’s changing climate are man-made are making “a pretty bogus argument.”

He has done his research on the Internet and has found the top 10 scientists who have done research, scientists he claims were paid for by companies or organizations, who have swayed him to believe human existence has had no bearing on the earth’s warming trend.

Slutzky shared his scientific revelation at last Tuesday’s County Council meeting.

“You can research a lot of this online,”Slutzky said about what he calls the bogus claims of what causes climate change. “You can go to the scientists that have actually spent their lives in institutions, because there’s a big difference in the research done by a company or an association that pays for the research.”

There’s some merit to Slutzky’s arguments. People who go online to research a topic are facing an infinite minefield of fact, fiction and a hybrid of both. Slutzky referred, as he has done before, to “fake news” and the impact of such on how people think.

Let’s be clear about one thing: The definition of “fake news” is anything that debunks the viewpoint of the person using the term. “Fake news,” as it has been used ad nauseum by President Trump is meant as a pejorative that sends the instantaneous message that anything with that label is not only wrong, but also so preposterous that it couldn’t have any basis in fact.

As events keep unfolding, “fake news” is just as likely to be anything said by the president as it is to be something reported by the non-Fox News media he claims to despise. But that’s commentary for another day.

As for Slutzky’s scientific sermonizing, what he has claimed might just as likely be “fake news” as those he tries to refute, or any of the information he used to support his view.

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