One thing that continues to perplex me as I develop my increasingly informed perspective of society is the staunchness with which many significant figures in politics, business, or pop culture in general seem to reject the very fundamentals of scientific theory. They often abandon rational and evidence-based thought for dogmatic and fallacious ideals, whether or not they actually believe or they are just appealing to constituents. I believe that, in order for a society to progress as painless and efficiently as possible, its people must have a complete trust in the legitimacy of the scientific method over impulsive irrationalities. Of course, by its very nature, science is not set in stone, and everything explained by science is only ever a theory at best because our knowledge is always changing. While these changes often lead directly to improvements in our health, our economy, or our quality of life, they can also dangerously provide many people, including powerful political figures, with anti-science fodder to make the argument that if science was wrong in the past, why should we trust it now?

Science has its greatest impact when it challenges the status quo. Robert L. Park from The New York Times says “The greatest discoveries of science have always been those that forced us to rethink our beliefs about the universe and our place in it.” This is because when society is faced with a pulling force of change that overpowers its natural compulsion to remain unaltered, it will eventually find equilibrium in a more knowledgeable and more progressive state. When Copernicus published his theory which proposed that the solar system was actually heliocentric rather than geocentric, he was met with backlash from protestant leader Martin Luther, and his work was among those prohibited by the Catholic Church. Because the geocentric model had a basis in religious text, Copernicus’ findings were discordant with biblical ideas, and thus indirectly challenged the power of the Catholic Church and he was seen as a threat. Although he was suppressed at the time, Copernicus’ work went on to later spur hundreds of other scientists, especially astronomers, to make more breakthrough discoveries in their fields.

Science has experienced backlash not only from religious authority, but from financial interests as well. We see this often in the modern day when bold new scientific discoveries are fought by special-interest groups whose investments rely upon things staying the same. The most relevant conflict of today is the clash between scientists who deduce that man-made climate change is real and will lead to disastrous issues if it is not dealt with soon, and subsidiaries of oil companies who would suffer financially if their carbon-emitting methods are limited. According to Martin H. Fischer , “Every discovery in science is a tacit criticism of things as they are. That is why the wise man is invariably called the fool.” When the spokespeople for the oil companies lack the facts and evidence to support their pro-fossil fuels argument, they rely on painting the opposition as the fools, and as slaves to a “superstitious” reliance on science that, as mentioned before, is not always one hundred percent accurate. As fire rages across much of Southern California and the Atlantic is pummeled with some of the most powerful hurricanes ever reported, it is more important now than ever, that all of society gets on the same page about science, and starts trusting the evidence that will make our country, and our world a better and safer place.