Thursday, 19 February 2015

A Load of Old Waffle

So, even yesterday's blog got me into trouble. (This is my really caring deeply about what others think face). But to show willing, to show that I can write without getting into trouble, to show that I care I'm just going to ramble on like an old woman. Oh..........yes, well, I see what you mean., for your delectation and delight, I present a load of old waffle.

It's a lovely sunny morning, the sun is coming up through the maple tree, filling my office with a bright light....look, I'll show you:

Yes, that's ice (inside) along the lower edge of the pane. And yes, that's a broken pane underneath. Nobody is willing to come out to such a remote location to fix it. Seriously. Look, isn't it lovely how the real sun shines through my stained glass sun. Well, I like it anyway.

However, it's very cold out so don't be fooled by this sunshine. If you're VERY good I might take some photos outside later. 

I love mornings like this, and it stirs me to work harder and earlier. OK, so we all know I'm a bit of an over-achiever, but I still don't work at full throttle all the time. But if you give me sunshine and a bit of fast music then I crank it up a bit, and as I have a lot to do this is all to the good. 

Cats have arrived on my desk. They are recharging in the sunlight.

Now then, we've set the scene, so what can I write about that won't get me into trouble.

With anyone.

(That was me thinking)

Oh well, forget that then, let's just dive right in.

That whole thing about faith/belief, and science. Not religion vs. science, you understand, not today, but anybody who thinks their own version of the facts is better or more accurate than the work of dedicated academics who are peer reviewed and have been studying in teams for decades, carefully following the standard scientific method. That lot.

Some of them are very nice people. I mean that. They can be sincere, compassionate, helpful, honest, and all good things. They can make great neighbours, and I wish them no harm at all. It has been said many times that it's better to be kind than right, and there is merit in that. Their beliefs range from misguided to kooky. They'd much rather listen to "some guy on the internet" than an actual expert, and that's fine and dandy for party conversations. At the same time you wouldn't one of these people making up your prescription for you, would you? Aha! See! No, that would be different. THEN you want a licensed, trained, qualified, experienced pharmacist doing it, so they don't poison you.

That's my point. It's fun, and sometimes some people are very defensive about these folk, but when it matters, you don't trust them any more than I do.

So, I'm going to weigh in very briefly on the vaccine thing. This is not my bag (do we still say that? I am a dinosaur and I'm not good at trendy slang), I leave that particular activism to others, but of course I have an opinion on it. I have an opinion on everything, and what's more you are ENTITLED to my opinion.

I had measles when I was a kid and I was very, very ill. It developed into measles meningitis, so I was on the danger list, plus I was delirious out of my tree for three days with hallucinations, and my terrified mother called the doctor out again thinking I'd lost it completely, when I accused her of riding her bicycle on the ceiling. Listen, when I hallucinate I do it creatively. Anyway, it left me with ear problems, and I still have tinnitus from that. I'm so used to it that if it ever went away I'd probably go mad from the silence, but the fact remains, like many people, I was damaged for life.

Shortly after that they introduced a vaccine, and so when I had kids I made sure they got it so they never had to go through that.

When my eldest, now 31, was a baby, there was a different hoo-har about vaccines. There had been a series of reports of severe brain damage from the whooping cough vaccine (since proven to be a coincidence). So when it was time for him to have that it, I had a conversation with my doctor (you know, the expert...). He told me that the same children who were at risk of damage from the vaccine would be at risk from the disease. They had an idea who these kids were in advance (I have no idea) and that he did not consider mine to be at risk at all. It all sounded quite reasonable, so in went the needle.

That's what I do. That's what sensible people do. When they are concerned about something they ask pertinent questions. They choose someone they trust to answer them, someone with real knowledge, not hearsay or woo-woo.

It's no secret that I eschew the flu shot. I have had many doctors support this decision. It wasn't a decision based on hearsay or woo-woo. It's based on the fact that I have never had flu, even despite sleeping beside Martin when he had it, several times. In addition, 4 out of 6 of my kids have never had it, even when the other 2 did. But that's not all.

In 1911, a few years before the big Spanish flu pandemic, my great-grandmother died of flu in my great-grandfather's arms. He had nursed her throughout her illness, but never caught it himself. It was said, in the family, that was a natural immunity in the genetics, that some of us acquired, and some didn't. I believe I have that, and have also passed it on.

The doctors I've spoken to agree that there is a strong likelihood of this. What's more, they agree that getting a flu short could be at best pointless, and at worst, it could damage that natural immunity. It remains possible, of course, that it is a limited immunity, and that if the virus mutated enough it might not hold out. But without becoming a test subject, we don't know. Anyway, my point is, I didn't make this up, and I've had good advice from multiple experts.

Because I support vaccination in principle, and reject one of them personally, I am hated by both sides of the argument so I simply stay right out of it. It's just better that way. I really can't be bothered to explain everything I just said (8 paragraphs) every time the topic comes up.

But I'll say this. People who choose hearsay and woo-woo over solid science are the reason we have a new measles outbreak. OK? It's a perfect example of the effect that "Belief" can have, in a practical way. And those who share "memes" online with fake data are guilty of harm. I saw one just the other day, it said there had been zero deaths from measles in the last ten years. BULLSHIT! No, I know it's not as risky as driving in a car. But car driving is optional. Catching diseases is not.

So, let's move on to other reasons why these dearly held beliefs are dangerous, even when not religious in origin.

The climate. Again, bogus data. I read something recently that said there was no scientific consensus, that some respected scientists disagree about climate change (and speak out about it), while others have been bullied or railroaded into going along with it for fear of their careers. It suggested that many if not most scientists were actually skeptical of any human effect on climate change, and for that reason, we should just ignore it.

It is certainly a fact that scientists do not agree on the severity of the impact. It is certainly true that some models of predicted effects have not happened. It is certainly true, thankfully, that the worst case scenario speed of planetary warming is so far not panning out, and it's moving more slowly. It is undeniably true that polar ice is increasing in some places. None of this changes anything.

Scientists rarely agree on everything. That's normal, and it's good. But never mind that, what is a scientist? Are you a scientist if you say you are? Does one batchelor's degrees make you a scientist? And quite apart from that, if your field is molecular science, or medicine, does that make you an expert on climate?

The leading skeptic of climate change in the UK some years ago was a botanist. A great guy, did TV shows, really entertaining and informative. On botany. Should have stuck to that and not shoot his mouth off because he lost all his credibility. People were surprised, because at first, being a leading environmentalist, he had been on the side of those warning about climate change, then changed his mind.

I wasn't surprised, because I knew he was almost a homeopath. Total, utter woo-woo. Anyone who can believe in homeopathy is not on sturdy footing, as far as I'm concerned. I'm boring like that.

Ah, logic and facts. Two of my bestest friends. Unfortunately, science also tells us there's no such thing as a fact. This is what messes people up, I think. They pick that idea up (either directly, or by being confused at the lack of consensus) and think it means "any idea will do". No. That's not it.

The process of science means that we gather together all the information we have, we study it carefully, we actually try to prove ourselves wrong as a test, and we compare our findings with others who are just as careful. Mistakes get made. We fix those. We missed something. We pick that up later. We find we didn't have all the data. Now we have more. A process. A GOOD process.

Yes, there's a lot of faith out there that isn't religious, but it might as well be. It has the same basis. Some of it is very interesting, fun even, and most of it is complete nonsense. In fact, it's a load of old waffle.

1 comment:

  1. If there is one thing Nature is an expert on, it is change. We change, we progress, we learn, we grow. If we manage to find a little belief and trust along the way, that's great...although that can change, too. It isn't woo-woo; it is simply the way it is. We tend to complicate things--and maybe that's good, so we can go ahead and test and 'prove' all we like. Only to find out more and better data and have our 'truths' and 'proofs' change yet again.

    Oh, and on the vaccine stuff, all waffling aside, there is a lot to be said for modern medicine. I know it's saved me more than once; and anyone who has had a visit to the ER or an operation can most assuredly be grateful for 'science' getting to the point where it saves lives. That said, even science, is as imperfect and changeable as we are...and I tend to trust that. ~ Blessings! :)