There are not two sides to every issue.
Just because you believe something, or have a feeling that it’s true, or even wish it were true, does not make it so. Much of the current disagreement about matters like climate change, vaccine safety, and other scientific positions are specious. There are not two legitimate ‘sides’ to the issues.
The problem arises from two sources.
- The news media presents an opposing view to every subject. That gives the loony side a legitimacy that it simply does not have. And they never question the most asinine statements by their guests.
The Internet and social media give everyone a voice. So, if you can write it, it must be valid. And important.
The news media has a responsibility to provide factual information. But in an effort to be ‘fair and balanced’ they often get some tinfoil hat wearer just to have an opposing viewpoint. That did not happen in the past when news was separate from entertainment, and it would not happen now if TV had any integrity. But they want to sell ads, and that means as many eyes as possible. Telling the truth would lose some viewers.
Also, Facebook and it’s ilk have provided a forum for everyone to spout whatever brand of craziness they have in their little heads. No filtering. And no fact checking. Anyone can claim (and often do) that vaccines kill thousands every year, or that the planet is actually getting colder: I know because my cat froze. None of these things could stand up to peer review or any scientific methodology at all. But people say them, and they get read by other loonies, and so become the alternative facts of tomorrow.
I say again, folks: always check for yourself if something is true before you go posting it or believing it. I recall a woman, a friend of a friend on Facebook, that posted a story about a goddam 134-foot snake. The simplest fact checking would have shown that such a beast is not possible, and that the story was taken from some tenth-graders project using toy tanks, soldiers, and a real snake carcass. How stupid do you have to be to just blindly post something without checking it out? That woman has been blocked from me ever seeing anything of hers.
There is a place in society for legitimate disagreement on some issues. Subjects like abortion, gun control, politics, and religion have people on both sides with deeply held beliefs and they can usually muster up some actual facts to support their positions. But these are not scientific matters: they are emotional and depend on each individuals ethics, morals, religious views, and social factors such as age, income, and education. These issues do not lend themselves to scientific dissection and study.
So if someone tells you something, or you read something, or you see something that does not make sense, check it out before accepting it. Healthy skepticism is the Word. Or maybe the Bird is the Word.