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Opting Out of Reality 

Publisher's Note

Do you have a computer? Can you type the word "Google"? Congratulations, you're an expert! In the aftermath of the recent outbreak of measles (a once-contained disease), we've heard way too much from people telling the rest of us how they decided to "opt-out" of vaccinations because they've "done their own research." Never mind that the evidence — gathered by some of the smartest people the greatest education system on the planet has produced — says they're wrong.

click to enlarge mcgregor.jpg

Today, apparently, you don't need any fancy Stanford degree to be an epidemiologist — just Wi-Fi.

The anti-vaccination fad is just the latest example of a know-barely-anything minority derailing progress for the rest of us who actually believe in science. Heck, we're still arguing about evolution.

Climate change, they say, is a hoax, despite the fact that here in Spokane we have set day after day of record highs, while Boston is seeing all-time snow records fall. The weather is scary, but we do nothing because too many leaders just don't believe it's an issue. And Obamacare was fought as an economy killer and pure socialism. Do these people even know what socialism is? Millions of new customers have been delivered to private insurance companies, and the economy is picking up post-Obamacare.

The critics have been proven wrong on this, but you won't hear it in the media, as news outlets can't seem to resist creating confusion out of false equivalencies: "Yes, 97 percent of studies confirm that we are affecting our weather, but this one guy with a blog doesn't buy it; well, we'll just have to agree to disagree!"

Maybe all this willful ignorance goes back to the George W. Bush administration — after all, it was his senior adviser (unnamed) who told journalist Ron Suskind in 2002 that all Americans stuck in the "reality-based community" — people who "believe that solutions emerge from... judicious study of discernible reality" — are hopeless. "When we act," the adviser was famously quoted in the New York Times, "we create our own reality."

I'm no psychologist, so I'd defer to an expert, but thinking back to my college philosophy class, that sounds a lot like solipsism — that the self is the be-all, end-all. From there, it's a quick jump to narcissism, which then slips into the realm of mental disorders. And if you psychoanalyze America as a whole, it's a fitting diagnosis. We're hearing voices in our head — telling us crazy stuff that doesn't make any sense. Let's not listen to those voices, and instead go about our business of fixing those problems that science can help us solve, from infectious diseases to climate change. ♦

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