Despite the ever worsening raid on natural resources, documented climate change, and scientific advances in the medical field, there is still a movement fomenting within the U.S. that regards scientific fact as fiction. These conspiracy theories even exist in the halls of power, conspiring with a kind of general apathy among other leaders when it comes to environmental issues to create a tepid response to a list of growing concerns that, if treated with inaction or denial, may bring broad-reaching economic, medical, and natural consequences over time.
Skepticism and cultural opposition has plagued scientists for centuries, with trail blazers like Galileo being persecuted by the religious establishment. As we creep into a more modern era, that issue still persists. Since its inception by the Founding Fathers and centuries beyond, scientific prominence and a thirst for invention has been a hallmark of the American ideal. The 1960s gave us the moon landing, and the ’70s and ’80s saw booms in the computer sciences and biotech.
Still, there are always those looking to undermine progress; these anti-science skeptics began as early as the 1950s, when many chiropractors were openly against the life-saving polio vaccine. While America has long been on the scientific cutting edge, but a new movement, born from a growing amount of misinformation spreading like wildfire and the demand for “ideological conformity” from the health-based conspiracy theories on the left and the religious dogma on the right, is looking to halt that kind of progress. In fact, the Renaissance (and before) idea that the world is flat has been resurrected by a modern movement, so there is clearly no theory too insane to warrant a following.
Based on his statements with regard to climate change, it doesn’t seem like President-elect Donald Trump will push back against science deniers, but even if he were to suddenly switch gears and fashion himself as some kind of green champion, we’d still be on a downward trajectory. In a moment where the weight of actual facts has been brought into question as safeguards and intellectual curiosity erode, we simply have no choice but to acknowledge that the cancer of doubt has metastasized. How we stop it is, unfortunately, an open question, but a war on many fronts can be won piecemeal, and it’s not hard to see that the internet and the classroom are among the first battlegrounds.