Why does science denialism persist, and how is it harming society?

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The March issue of National Geographic raises many intriguing questions about the world we live in today. It also has a particular resonance for me as a former science reporter. Its title is: The War on Science. And the sub-headline reads:

  • Climate change does not exist
  • Evolution never happened
  • The moon landing was fake
  • Vaccinations can lead to autism
  • Genetically modified food is evil.

Over the years, I have had my share of altercations with angry people on the last two items, some even quite recently. In the early 2000s, I started writing articles casting doubt on the original paper published by Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues in the British medical journal The Lancet claiming the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) childhood vaccine could cause autism.

More recently, I wrote in my daily column My Take defending genetically modified food after millions of people marched against the biotechnology and the modified seeds giant Monsanto.

As National Geographic puts it, “doubting science has consequences”.

“The people who believe vaccines cause autism – often well educated and affluent, by the way – are undermining ‘herd immunity’ to such diseases as whooping cough and measles.

“The anti-vaccine movement has been going strong since … The Lancet published a study in 1998 linking a common vaccine to autism. The journal later retracted the study, which was thoroughly discredited. But the notion of a vaccine-autism connection has been endorsed by celebrities and reinforced through the usual Internet filters.

Read full, original article: Why science stands supreme in the face of so much ignorance

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