Not a day passes when we don’t hear about the perils of HRT, antidepressants, “carbs”, cholesterol, sodium excess, gluten, and the importance of proper diet to protect us against obesity and diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, and death itself. Modern life as mirrored in the media, via our “devices”, hand-held and otherwise, offers 24/7 stimulation. This arrives in the form of entertainment, news, and advertising. Sadly, we are all drowning in “information,” whether it is advertising or government edict disguised as medical truth, or opinion parading as received wisdom. Public confusion reigns. The City of New York and other cities, decides to mandate the amount of trans fat allowed to be served in restaurants, the medical sovereigns or the Government tells us we will die of high blood pressure if we don’t restrict salt intake-the list goes on. In my opinion and that of others, most of these decisions have been verified by a plethora of Junk Science. Many such beliefs edge into a form of snobbery when skeptics are ridiculed. We all want to be “right” and politically correct, even if, for example, Federal dietary guidelines change every few years or spectacular new medical treatments, such as anticoagulants and robotic surgery are proven to be dangerous.
Once we begin to acknowledge that life is all about uncertainty, we are still left with that slippery word, “truth”, and its fashionable costumes of faith and belief. Ultimately, we are left to deal with faith, reason, and the actual basis of knowledge. According to Gallup, 40% or 125 million of Americans take a literalist view of creation, believing that God created the universe, (either in millions of years or in 6 days), but place the big bang “2,500 years after the Babylonians and Sumerians learned to brew beer.” Only 17% of us doubt that a personal God has authored the Bible, let alone created the earth and its 900,000 species of insects. As Sam Harris in The End of Faith also observes, “A survey of Hindus, Muslims, and Jews around the world would surely yield similar results revealing that we, as a species, have grown almost perfectly intoxicated by our myths.” Can the human race, its very existence now imperiled by the clash of beliefs and civilizations, afford to drift entirely free of reason and evidence?