Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci attempted to explain why COVID cases were still on the rise in parts of the country. He praised stay-at-home orders and urged the wearing of face masks, then added another potential reason people weren’t listening to scientists who specialize in infectious diseases:
“One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said.
“So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that — and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth,” Fauci said.
“It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines,” Fauci added. “That’s really a problem.”
Of course he’s right about all of that. When the Republican-led government is telling people to reject expertise, and experts are promoting things that are inconvenient, it’s tempting, especially if you’re conservative, to live in MAGA Fantasy World where COVID doesn’t exist and anyone with a higher degree is part of a Deep State conspiracy.
But it’s that one phrase — “science is truth” — that evangelist Franklin Graham latched onto last night in a Facebook rant:
This week Dr. Anthony Fauci made the statement that “science is truth.” Really? I would beg to differ. Science may be a quest for truth, but it is certainly fallible. I’m not against science of course, but we know that scientists often disagree. As an example, the early Imperial College London coronavirus model has since proven wrong, and disputes continue today between the experts about the model used more recently in the U.S. And, man did not evolve from apes or tadpoles as many scientists say. That’s just not true — God created man and woman as the Bible says.
If America has an “anti-science bias” as the doctor said in his interview, it might be because we aren’t sure whether to trust those who are presenting their science to us. Dr. Fauci first told the American people they didn’t need to wear facemasks, then reversed himself to say that we did. Then he revealed the reason that he had said that initially was because there was a shortage of facemasks! So, the facts changed to avoid a run on facemasks? That’s not a good step toward building trust…
Leave it to a Christian evangelist to hear a scientist trying to save people’s lives and treat it like he’s personally being persecuted…
Fauci wasn’t suggesting science is all that matters, only that when there’s a problem that requires specific knowledge, there’s value in trusting the wisdom of those who have that specific knowledge. Epidemiologists know more about COVID than Trump. This isn’t complicated. Whatever we can learn about COVID, and how to defeat it, we’ll figure that out through science, not by praying for it. That’s clearly what he was getting at. As for the supposed waffling over face masks, even Graham implicitly admits there was never any question about the efficacy of them! Making sure health care workers had them was a priority. Now that they do, it’s vital that as many people as possible use them (though our versions don’t need to be as fancy as ones used in hospitals). The facts there never changed.
Graham is lying. It’s what he does.
He also says he’s “not against science” before proceeding to trash science and misstate how evolution works. Literally no scientist has ever said we “evolve from apes or tadpoles.” That’s a gross misunderstanding of how it works, which Graham would know if he ever dared to open a second book. Instead, in a post trashing science, he argues in favor of Young Earth Creationism.
By the way, scientists may disagree on many things, but not on the fundamentals of evolution.
And it’s such an ignorant, cheap shot to say science can’t be trusted because, in the process of figuring out what’s actually going on (about anything!), scientists may have imperfect understandings along the way. The beauty of the scientific method is that it allows for course-correction. If a scientist makes a mistake, you can bet another scientist will figure it out.
Religion, on the other hand, always doubles down on mistakes. Admitting someone got it wrong a long time ago is to destroy the very foundation of faith.
America has an anti-science bias because people with the loudest megaphones — like Graham — make it a habit to discredit scientists whenever they can. Instead of educating their audience, they insist the world is out to get them and the only solution is to accept whatever it is they’re selling. In Graham’s case, that’s blind faith in Jesus and Trump.
If Graham used his platform to urge Christians to wear face masks, self-quarantine, watch church online from their homes, and not venture out into the public unless it’s absolutely required, he could save countless lives. But he doesn’t care. He’s not that kind of “pro-life.” He’d rather praise Republicans than admit Democrats have a point about anything.
His post is arguably more damaging than Trump’s hate-rally last night because, while Trump is just a professional asshole playing his greatest hits, Graham likes to pretend he’s a voice of authority and respectability. You’re supposed to take him seriously.
And what does he do with that kind of power? He tells people they shouldn’t listen to one of the only voices of sanity in this administration because he dared to suggest people ought to listen to scientists about the pandemic, not politicians.
(Screenshot via YouTube)