Lots of people have good ideas about how the world works, health tips and well being so why not listen to them? I keep being asked why should you listen to what scientists have to say rather than charismatic figures. Aren’t conspiracy theories just as valid?
The whole idea of science is to not believe but to be skeptical about everything, while slowly developing a view as to how the world works based on the evidence at hand. In the evidence market, science wins hands down; you just need to understand the limits of the evidence. While science can be said to be seeking the truth, pretty much everything else is marketing. There is always an ulterior motive be it sales, control or some other prevailing dominance.
A simple question: do we live on a spheroid (or ball shaped earth) or is it flat? Even today many people believe in a flat earth and come up with all sorts of ideas on how that can be. To them it is as obvious as looking around you and not seeing any evidence of a curved earth. Science tells a different story, none better than a quick review of gravity. Any two atoms are attracted by the force of gravity such that in open space particles will begin to collect together to form a mass. AS gravity works the same in all directions, the shape quickly becomes a ball (or something similar). For large masses, that’s pretty much all it can be without some amazing additional force.
Of course, it is verified in many other ways including observation from space. A guy by the name of Eratosthenes actually calculated the circumference of the Earth, to a fair degree of accuracy back in the third century BC and he probably got the idea from learned folks before him. These ideas of the beginnings of science are discussed in my book ‘Signs of a River’ if you want a more detailed discussion.
OK, that one is an easy call for most of us, but not all. I’d say that most conspiracy theories fall into the same category. They have little evidence-based backing, just a call to believe. So, the first step is to look for the evidence and weigh it up. Politicians, celebrities and mischief makers are unlikely to be the best source of information. Science mags or experts in their field are a much better bet. The mags tend to make the experts opinions a little more palatable as experts often concentrate too hard on being just right. I find New Scientist pretty good.
Özlem Türeci and Uğur Şahin are the Turkish German scientists who created the mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 being distributed by Pfizer. They might be billionaires but are the sort of person that scientists tend to be. They ride pushbikes to work from their fairly ordinary apartment each day to help come up with cancer treatments and vaccines. I imagine that the science is what they care about, not the trappings of wealth and power.
Pfizer on the other hand is probably a different story, with profit the most likely motive for the work they do. They do provide the ability to produce and distribute the vaccine at a rapid rate, a most beneficial service.
Is the vaccine safe? As far as we can tell, yes; or at least as safe as any other medication. I find it hard to believe that Özlem and Uğur would be adding microchips to their vaccine. Again, it is a simple matter to test what is in each vaccine and it would be a hell of a conspiracy for everyone involved to go along with it. Conspiracy theories are so much more complicated than the process itself in pretty much all cases. It is probably easier to go to the moon rather than pretend you did.
New viruses turn up on a very regular basis without a need to create one in a lab. In the last hundred years or so we have had Sin Nombre hantavirus (SNV), Hendra, Ebola, Nipah, Zika, Swine flu, HIV, MERS, SARs, etc. viruses turn up without any thought of being created in a lab. By pure luck and hard work by the WHO they have been largely contained. The WHO does an incredible job following disease outbreaks around the world and assisting in their eradication. Remember they have no actual power to do much themselves. They are not a world police service.
So, my suggestion is to go with the science. It is a proven commodity that has provided us with our modern lifestyle. Conspiracy theorists, snake oil sellers and homespun remedies have provided very little, other than taking your money.
Well that’s my opinion anyway.