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Blinding Me with Science

When I was fifteen I came across an animated film called “The Point” by Harry Nilsson which first aired on TV in 1971. It is about a boy named Oblio, the only round-headed person in a village where everyone’s head was in the shape of a point and where, by law, everyone and everything in the village had to have a point. Hence, the main activity of the village was making points.

Oblio is banished to the Pointless Forest and sets out on an adventure to discover what it means to have a point versus no point at all. Along the way he meets the Rockman and, as the Rockman puts forth his perspective, he explains to Oblio, “you see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” I hear great truth in these simple words and often find myself quoting the Rockman when I am attempting to explain what’s going on in the world.

Take science for instance. There is a lot of scientific study being conducted in the world where the outcome is strongly tied to who is paying for the research. It appears you can always spin things scientifically if you desire to do so.

Like with climate change. Many, many scientists have determined that 1) the chemical composition of the atmosphere has been severely altered by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide pouring into it and 2) this is going to have a profound effect on life on Earth. There is enough scientific evidence and consensus to convince me that we need to be doing something about this ASAP.

Yet, there is other “scientifically proven” research out there that says climate change is not real. And there are people in government, business as well as regular citizens who are still not convinced that climate change is seriously worth addressing. Points are being made and, as the Rockman points out, people are seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear.   Continue reading

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