A few weeks ago I had begun collecting data for an essay that I was to bring together; it was to be on the effects that science & technology have on the human race. As I was reaching out for testimonials from friends and family, I had the opportunity to talk to Elaina Ballew—a vlogger on the YouTube channel Elaina43. The conversation that she and I had was so amazing that by the time we were finished I felt as though there was really nothing more that I could say or add to the information that was collected. The following is a transcript of our shared words:
Elaina Ballew Big breakthroughs in science are rare; but small advances have a huge impact on our lives. I find few things more inspirational than images from the Hubble Telescope. And few things irk me more than a theist lambasting science through a microphone and web cam illuminated by halogens talking aabout a DVD they saw on their HD television while texting with friends and fans on twitter claiming that technology is "something different" from science. Science is hope; hope that we can feed the world, get clean water to every community on Earth, breach the ideological gulfs that separate and alienate us from one another. By recognizing reality, contemplating its wonder and mysteries, we have at our fingertips evidence to unite us all.
Terrell Brinlee How would you respond to the idea that because of technology and science the human race has been allowed to gain much larger number of population, and seeing how hunger and poverty have always existed since biblical times, science and technology have at least had little-to-no effect on breaching these gulfs you speak of--and quite possibly brought the human race to an even more unstable state of existence than before?
Elaina Ballew I would say that religious dogma is what keeps a lot of the world in poverty and ignorance - the prohibition of birth control being quite possibly the number one contributor to both. Education and the empowerment of women are key factors in leading populations out of poverty - even in the "developed world."
Elaina Ballew Re: an unstable state - I agree that nuclear proliferation is a terrible thing - but consider the mind set of populations currently threatening other countries or populations with annihilation: are political concerns or religious fundamentalism paramount?
Terrell Brinlee You mention science being hope; how do you think it's possible for science--as hope--to rise above the adversity that politics and religion present? What will it take for science to reveal or "resurrect" its self as that hope?
Elaina Ballew Science as hope lies in education. I do not mean rote memorization of the multiplication or periodic tables; school should teach people how to learn, how to reason, HOW (not what) to think. Science classes should start by explaining what a falsifiable claim is and what constitutes scientific evidence - how it is different from anecdotal evidence. More people should know what the word "theory" means in scientific terms. Science, as in our understanding of the natural world - including ourselves, is the only way we can understand more about the world we share and that is the only way we can find common ground in competing and contradictory points of view. Science must be understood as a process not a static stance - we can be wrong, discover that we are wrong, learn what led us in the wrong direction, and thus change and improve our understanding of reality. What dogma will allow for this flexibility and growth?
Terrell Brinlee I think with your question you have landed in the heart of what my thesis is. For thousands of years, we as a human race have found ourselves using religion/dogma to completely define how we understand life, not just from a mechanical standpoint, but our complete world view. Now rather than the mysticism of religion, we're moving into a firmer take on life: a "show me the facts" mentality. Regardless of the information and source, the human race is approaching a new understanding of life, and accepting the views of the scientist in the same way that one would refer to their religious leader. There is a paradigm switch among us and the human race refuses to recognize something that I think you have already. I think that's what I'm trying to convey.
Elaina Ballew I have one quibble with what you wrote. Re: "...accepting the views of the scientist in the same way that one would refer to their religious leader" People should not / could not / would not place their trust in scientists in THE SAME WAY they do religious leaders because popular or revered religious leaders derive their authority from nothing that can be authenticated. Scientists must be accountable for their work in a way that religious persons could never be.
Terrell Brinlee I like how you say, "...we can be wrong, discover that we are wrong..." but I have to recall an article that I read on NPR** that stated that--in reference to the link between autism and vaccines; finding that one vaccine was not directly related to the disorder--"Still the suggestion the MMR shot was connected to autism spooked parents worldwide and immunization rates for measles, mumps, and rubella have never fully recovered." The people still believe that it's bad for you even though peer review has said otherwise.
I agree with what you say in regards to schools teaching humans "how" to think, but in the real world and the hustle and bustle of every day’s life no average American has the time or resources to complete the testing that is involved with discovering these things.
Americans are required to go to the scientist whose information CAN be wrong and misleading or led by a political agenda even. How do you respond?
Elaina Ballew The person speaking the loudest, spreading the most alarm, crying "DANGER! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON" tends to get the most attention. We, unfortunately, do not often listen to the calm, reasonable voices all around us. Americans, indeed people everywhere, have a responsibility to inform themselves - and that might mean more than watching a couple YouTube videos or reading one Wikipedia article. If in the hustle and bustle of everyday lives people listen to the wacko with the bullhorn and fail to immunize their children, the rest of us will suffer and we must do our best to address such willful ignorance and encourage others to correct their myopia - for our own sake if not for theirs! Imagine a driver endangering everyone around him for lack of a pair of glasses. How senseless! That person would be considered criminally negligent if they harmed anyone or anything - including themselves. What will the world do when polio is once again the threat it was? How stupid will we all feel? I am not saying that one person can fix everything - but people like you give me hope. You are addressing tough questions and putting yourself out there - listening to others and doing research. If more people were like you, I'd have even more hope for us all.
If you would like to see more of Elaina, I encourage you all to go check out her channel: www.youtube.com/elaina43.
**The article quoted can be found at the following link: http://www.npr.org/2011/01/05/132692497/journal-study-linking-vaccine-to-autism-was-fraud?sc=tw
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