I wrote this comment in response to a Facebook forum called “Science and Religion – it doesn’t work together”. I find these types of forum sometimes descend into scorn and ridicule.
Whenever someone like Seth Spain has the guts to speak up in a forum like this we need to be reaching out towards them with respect and an inclusive attitude. Why? Because science is losing the battle.
The most useful response might be, relativity shows that the notion of time and space depends on your point-of-view. Imagine if Einstein had espoused this but had not possessed the mathematical skills to formulate an analytical proof. The idea would have wafted around, probably scorned, till someone could do so. Yet the idea would have been no less correct.
To call ourselves scientists, yes we must be skeptical in the sense of meticulously seeking evidence and proof of proposed hypotheses. However we must not be skeptical in the sense of outright scorn and out-of-hand disrespect when those perhaps less technically educated use pseudo-scientific words in grasping to describe what they believe – often with great earnest.
That alienates the very people we are trying to enlighten. The cause of science is to understand and educate.
Seth Spain is a good example of someone who at least is open to learning. The people drawn to viewing that video are simply seeking to understand – our potential audience. In contrast the people compiling the video (and similar) are trying to harness that yearning for their own purpose which is simply to gain followers to their own cause – our malevolent foes.
The makers of these kinds of videos are using cherry-picked scientific demonstrations, impressive-sounding quotes, and dramatic background music to add credibility to their “teachings”. These people should not be underestimated in their capacity for charismatic persuasiveness. They are frighteningly effective and successful in gathering into their fold the very audience which is yearning for understanding and leadership. Evidence for their success includes the American bible belt.
We scientists need to be equally persuasive in doing so. Feymnan and Sumner Miller were examples of scientists who made science accessible to all. Kruszelnicki and Spencer are taking up that mantle now. As we should all be.