First off, thanks to everyone who has voted for my family's video to win a Nissan Leaf. If you haven't voted yet, here's your chance. I promise you, that video is worth clicking over to see.
Arduous had an interesting post about "science denialists" the other day that reminded me about something I was thinking about many months ago when I wrote a post about cloth diapers. I noted in the post that life cycle analyses indicate that cloth and disposable diapers are equally bad for the planet. Someone commented to the effect of "How can you possibly think cloth and disposables are equal? Cloth is obviously much better than disposables and those studies are biased."
When I read that comment, I thought to myself, "I just linked to a reputable source showing you the life cycle analyses, and still you don't believe it? Don't you trust science?"
But truthfully, I myself don't always trust science, and I easily fall prey to non-scientific theories:
- I am currently doing an elimination diet with my oldest to find out what he might be allergic to mainly because I read that allergies might be the cause of extreme behavior issues. His doctor supports this idea.
- About the time I had my youngest, I read some things that in combination with my autistic brother-in-law made me decide to slow my son's vaccination schedule way way down. (Not the now debunked theory about mercury and vaccinations, but a theory that children with a genetic immunodeficiency disorder might be more susceptible to extreme reactions to vaccinations - high fevers and such - which in turn might cause autism.) His doctor did not support this idea.
- I've called my husband a dozen annoying times from the grocery store to ask, "Should we buy whole milk or skim? Is wheat good for us or bad? Who do I believe - the whole foods advocates or the FDA?" I've settled on whole milk for yogurt, whole milk cheese, and skim for drinking. Wheat is still up in the air.
And yet...I've seen time and time again where a green blogger will post on one day about the health benefits of drinking whole milk even though the FDA says we should drink skim, or wax poetic about the environmental benefits of using cloth diapers even though scientific studies have shown that cloth and disposables are equally bad for the planet, or insist that pesticides are bad for our health even though scientists claim that the trace amounts of pesticides left on fruits and vegetables are not harmful. And then on the next day, they'll write something like, "How can someone not believe in climate change? Don't they trust the climate scientists?"
Are we hypocrites? Can we have it both ways? Can we say on the one hand that people shouldn't trust the nutritionists or the doctors or the government and on the other hand criticize people who are skeptical of climate science? Can we lean heavily on science to support one theory while outright denying other commonly accepted scientific conclusions? Are we cherry-picking science?
Or maybe there's a divide among environmentalists? Those who want to protect the environment because of science versus those who love the natural world despite science?
I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trying to point fingers or criticize anyone here. I'm certainly guilty of all of these accusations, and these are just some random thoughts that I've been thinking about for awhile now. I'm just wondering if others have ever noticed this before.
Do you have any thoughts on the subject?
*image by whologwhy