This video has 3 parts. The first two parts while very interesting are not totally relevant to the article below. The third part starts at 4:40 and goes about 6 minutes.
As the Covid pandemic continues with Republicans weaponizing the disease on a really strange battle over what “freedom” means it pricked a memory of a story I had heard decades ago of how the Muslim world in either the Dark or Middle Ages were the home for scientific and mathematical discovery.
This did not jibe with my then understanding of the Muslim world being much less open to scientific discovery that was at odds with Muslim religious teachings. At the time I did some research – the old fashioned way using books and magazine articles. Remember the old “Readers Guide to Periodical Literature?”
What I found out is what Dr. Tyson discusses in the last half of the above video. There was a flourishing of scientific thought in the Muslim world around the year 1000 while what we call the western world suffered through a scientific blackout. The blackout was caused because where scientific discoveries collided with religious thought, religion was the winner and science was not pursued.
At the time I was delving in to this, in the West scientific discovery was most important. At that time as a young man, I could never imagine that Western civilization would ever reverse that prioritization and once again put religion as the standard by which to judge ideas. History showed us that when humans did that, it led to serious consequences. Besides, science was bringing us some great benefits and toys. Why would anyone want to reverse that?
As an adult I learned that no matter how good an idea might be, there is always someone to louse it up.
A couple of weeks ago I either read or heard on the internet (a great scientific discovery) that there had been a bill introduced in some state legislature – I think it was either Texas or Tennessee – to make all mandatory vaccinations optional. That included measles, mumps, rubella, polio, DPT etcetera. All those childhood immunizations which most states now require before any student is allowed to enter the school system.
Using the great search engine we have today – Google – I was unable to find any reference to such a story. While I am sure I heard this story, maybe I didn’t. But I would not be surprised that of it didn’t happen it probably will as some loathsome politician panders for religious votes. This would be, as Dr. Tyson describes, part of the slope heading back down to making religion pre-eminent over science.
Can you even imagine what our country would be like if we were to make vaccinations optional? Schools would be hugely affected. No doubt there would be constant epidemics of what we refer to as childhood diseases. And contrary to myths that have grown around “childhood” diseases, they do kill.
Remember a few years back when the U of Iowa campus experienced an outbreak of mumps? It only took a few unvaccinated individuals to cause a small epidemic. If all vaccinations were optional you can bet that vaccinations would slide especially among children as time went on. Epidemics would certainly rise. And even more concerning is that mutations of once contained viruses would make these viruses beyond current scientific knowledge.
Considering how easy it is to show how effective the mandatory vaccination programs have been, especially for children, it is amazing that so many are so fearful of the Covid vaccines. These are among the safest and most effective vaccines ever created. Sadly one political party in this country has found that spreading lies, fear and disinformation about these vaccines to be politically advantageous. Making people fearful of something, whether founded on reality or not, brings in votes.
So as Dr. Tyson noted the 20th century in Western civilization was a time of great scientific advancement. But amazingly those that want to stop such advancement are always lurking ready to pounce. Unfortunately in our current day, those forces trying to stop such advancement are needlessly causing death and pain, not to mention hurting our economy.
Here is a truly sobering thought that just came out – more than 120,000 children in the US have lost their primary caregiver due to the pandemic:
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
More than half the children who lost a primary caregiver during the pandemic belonged to those two racial groups, which make up about 40% of the U.S. population, according to the study published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.
During 15 months of the nearly 19-month COVID-19 pandemic, more than 120,000 U.S. children lost a parent or grandparent who was a primary provider of financial support and care, the study found. Another 22,000 children experienced the death of a secondary caregiver — for example, a grandparent who provided housing but not a child’s other basic needs.