Anti-science attitudes are on the rise these days, also in the western world, and many wonder why. These anti-science views include creationism, climate-change rejection, religious fundamentalism, some of the more ungrounded conspiracy theories, and some liberal and new age views (hardcore anti-vaccination).
I am no expert, although I find this topic fascinating. I wouldn’t mind studying and learning more about it.
Here are some thoughts for now:
It may be a form of protest. Perhaps a protest against a certain group of people.
For some, this group may be the intellectual elite in the western world, such as scientists and academics. For others, it may be westerners in general.
In each case, those promoting anti-science views may intentionally be rejecting values and views central to the group they want to distance themselves from.
And they may do that, in part, because they feel powerless. It may come from pain.
Non-westerns may wish to reject western imperialism in it’s many forms, including in the form of culture, religion, economics, and military power. They feel threatened. Their traditional way of life is threatened. Their autonomy is threatened. Their control over their own country and resources is threatened. (I support this, by the way, although I would have chosen another strategy than this, or violence.)
So in wishing to reject western imperialism, they reject core western values and views. They may do it partly in an attempt to reject the whole western imperialist package. They may do it as a way of dealing with their own hurt and pain. They may do it because they know it’s exasperating and frustrating to westerners and those holding western values. And they may not even know exactly why they do it, they are just compelled to do it.
Within the western world, many also feel disempowered, and may experience resentment towards those in power – including the intellectual elite. So they too chose to express it through rejecting core values and views of this group. They wish to distance themselves from them. They wish to create and maintain an identity that’s different from the elite in essential ways. And what’s better than rejecting science, and perhaps embracing certain new age views or religious fundamentalism. That sets them apart. That’s a way to say to oneself I am right, they are wrong. (As the elite does towards them.) It’s a way to frustrate the elite and watch them squirm.
What’s the solution to this? It seems simple: Take them seriously. Take their (perceived) disempowerment seriously. Take their pain seriously. Listen to them. Do something about it.
Update: After writing this, I saw a post on Facebook that relates to this topic. It was a post about “US aggression against Russia in Ukraine” from an organization that works against neo-liberal corporate globalization. It seems another example of the dynamic I explored here. These folks may be frustrated about the US role in promoting corporate globalization (I agree on that point), see the US government as an enemy, so they go too far and see “the enemy of my enemy as a friend”. They take a situation where it seems clear that Russia – against all international agreements and laws – invaded and occupied parts of Ukraine, and where Western Europe and the US have shown remarkable restraint, and turn it upside down and inside out in order to make it the fault of the US. To me, it seems absurd, although I may also miss something here.
– anti-science, anti-evolution etc.
– anti-elitism, anti-western empirialism
– coming from pain, feeling powerless?
– related to identity, wish to maintain a separate identity from the “others”, the one protesting against (so throw out something central to their identity, important to them)
– delight in frustrating the others, seeing them exasperated
– solutions? take their complaints seriously, what’s really going on (feeling left out, powerless etc.)
And yet, I don’t see that happening very much. What I see is continued imperialism and disempowerment. What I see is a rejection of the concerns of these people. What I see is a derailed discussion that mostly looks at the surface and the symptoms and not the real and serious causes.
What I see is pain and confusion on both sides.
What I see is a group of people – mainly the western financial and political elite – making the most out of their disempowerment. (Mostly through international financial structures, often with the – explicit or implicit – support of media and politicians, and sometimes with the support of military power.)