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Despite the casual tossing about of the epithet “science denier” in these oh-so-technocratic times, most scientific knowledge goes unchallenged by the unwashed masses. I’ve never heard anyone express skepticism of Coulomb’s Law and its scandalous claims about the forces exerted between charged bodies. Rarely is Bernoulli burned in effigy for the effrontery of his work in fluid dynamics. Even Richard Feynman, bad boy Nobel laureate and long-haired drummer, barely elicits a gasp of disapproval when quantum electrodynamics is brought up in polite company.
No, we get upset with science when people try to use it as a cudgel to drive us where we don’t want to go. Then, understandably, we get our backs up. This is true even when the science is pretty solid, which it often — though not always — is. It’s true even on those occasions when we might be better off, in the long run, going where science is suggesting we go: some of us resist good advice, no matter how many decimal places of precision it claims.