How did we get to a point where personal beliefs can triumph over science?
Well goddamn, New York Times, I don’t know. Maybe something about a decade and a half of “it would be irresponsible not to speculate” and “both sides do it” and “if everybody’s mad at us we’re doing something right” and “hey, we don’t tell you the truth, we tell you what six competing people each say is the truth, individually, despite that one of those people is having paranoid delusions, and one of them can’t find a sentence with a torch and a posse. and one of them thinks vaccines not only cause autism but also that Jonas Salk faked the moon landing, and one of them is a pet therapist, and one of them has a degree from the American College of Sexologists and only plays a doctor on the radio, and the last person runs the fucking CDC, but hey, who are we to judge?”
We have spent the past 20 years at least pretending that the most anti-science, anti-progress, anti-goddamn-reality people in the world have a right to have their absurd bullshit repeated without challenge or inquiry. We have put these people in Congress, in positions of immense influence in media, with the ability to make pronouncements that are repeated ad nauseum at volumes unthinkable to, say, anti-war protesters or those who want to raise the minimum wage. We have told ourselves this is not only necessary, to listen to people like this, but it is unavoidable. This is just the way the world works now, we have said, so that we do not have to take any responsibility at all for the institutions we run.
And then we ask ourselves, from our lofty perch atop the New York Times building, we ask ourselves how on earth we wound up here.