About two years back, someone on my feed posted a link to an anti-vaccination article on Facebook. The source of the article was uncredited, and the writer was not a medical professional. The moment I saw that link, I immediately asked him to take it down. We got into a short argument, but he understood finally why the article was dangerous, and deleted the link.
My friends asked me why I was so adamant on it. It was just another harmless share on Facebook. Here’s the thing. That guy who shared it was a former paramedic. On topics like vaccination, even if he had never dealt with them personally, his words had power. He could save or take a life.
I have a history of doing this. Attempting to correct people, that is. My most recent attempt involves trying to get the people in my gaming group to understand why the initial moon landing was real. I am sad to say that I live in a country where a large number of people have access to education and science topics, but no one understands them.
This is due to the high rate of religion in Singapore that constantly solidifies the idea that religious beliefs are important and should not be questioned; a very ‘my world’ culture, where money and materialistic values are encouraged; and an education system that encourages grades over understanding of the topic. But back to the moon landing.
Again, one of my friend asked me why it was so important that I explain the moon landing. How does it affect me as a person? Does it change anything? I feel that is the kind of attitude and thinking that has led the world into the state we are in. The gentle idea that the world revolves around us, and that because our actions do not have an immediate impact in out vicinity, it either does nothing, or is an inconsequential action.
Here’s why it was important to me to correct the moon landing. Two of the people in our gaming group are teachers of mathematics and science, people who should not have ‘I belief’ in their teaching vocabulary. And one of them is a musician. These are people who have the power to affect others’ ways of thinking.
The teachers claim that their beliefs and understanding of the world does not affect their jobs, which made me worry that they might be teaching without passion. I find it impossible to properly inspire if you do not put your life experience into your work.
Once, I was working at a camp event for a school. During the night, I was chatting with the kids, and I showed a few of them pictures of the galaxies on my phones. I explained to them how in the scale of things, one Earth in those galaxies were like how our planet must look like to an ant.
While most of them responded with ‘Wows’ and ‘Ooos’, one of the kids, a little girl, asked me if there were buses for space, because sometimes ants crawl onto cars and stuff. The rest laughed, but I knew then that the kid had the potential to be something. She had just grasped the imagination of intergalactic travels. I told her that maybe, one day, she’ll be the one to create buses for space.
Why do people not believe in the moon landing? Most of them do so because they did not understand something. Perhaps it was how flags could flutter in vacuum (because of wires, coils, supports, and movements), a letter ‘C’ on a rock (disproved with basic quadrangulation), high res photography (enlarger and medium film format), similar backgrounds (ratio disparity and atmospheric interference) or even lack of stars in the sky (moon’s day-night cycle).
When you place something you don’t understand as something you “know” or belief, I can never proof or disprove it to you. A belief is literally a “confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof”. When, and only when people set things they understand as things that they know; things they don’t understand as things they don’t know; and removing the concept of belief, can we start having a conversation about intellectual progression and change.
I worry for the future.
I worry for the number of children who dies each year from easily preventable diseases because their parents just “knows” vaccines causes autism. All because some none reputable source got tweeted or shared by people working in the medical industry who is not a doctor.
Did we just lose an entire life of happiness and struggles, love and lost?
I worry for that one kid in science class, who asks about the moon landing, but instead of being told, “I know how it happened…” or “I don’t know how it happened, but you should find out…” is instead told, “I don’t know how, but I don’t belief/think it did…”
Did we just lose a scientist or engineer from that conversation?
How many people have died from the adverse weather of climate change? All because people don’t understand the concept of exponential conservation of energy from electric cars and green energy, and thus, continue to support gas and coal. How many more will die?
It’s time to start understanding how the world works. We no longer have the luxury of just caring about what we can see in front of us any more. We either do it, or our future is doomed.