Sometimes irony can be deafening. That’s how it seemed to me recently as I listened to a fellow pooh-pooh science.
Now when I hear someone say they “don’t buy into a lot of science stuff,” I wonder if they’ve really thought this thing through. In other words, the microwave oven that he said he just bought at a bargain price is not exactly a device hammered out of crude metal at some monastery.
“Do you hear what you just said?” I asked.
Mostly, I just listened because I’ve learned through the years that sometimes it’s best not to debate some people, but rather humor them and make sure they don’t play in traffic or run with sharp objects.
The discussion had begun relative to NASA programs being scaled back. He just didn’t see the need for that kind of spending in the first place. Later, he mentioned how many channels he picked up on his satellite television.
Again, this is not something attained by standing on your back porch holding up a No. 3 wash tub chanting, “Come on in! Come on in!” It all began with some really smart folks wearing white lab coats and horn rimmed glasses who figured out how to bounce signals off satellites.
I also noticed that the fellow had a scar showing at the base of his neck that indicated to me that he had undergone open heart surgery. In other words, medical science had helped him cheat the grim reaper. And of course, he had a cellphone because someone called him on it during his dissertation on space science.
Now, I don’t get up every morning, take my phone off the charger and have a moment of silence in memory of Alexander Graham Bell, who kind of got this thing started. But I do on occasion reflect on how far technology has come in the past century. I didn’t bring up Bell by name because I’m afraid this person might have thought he invented that device that you hang around the neck of the lead cow.
Like I said, I just don’t think this fellow had thought it through. Now I admit there are some line items in the space program that may be debated in terms of socially redeeming value. But somewhere between the invention of Tang and the ability to read car tags in Moscow from a spy satellite, there have been lots of space program discoveries that serve modern man.
I realize there are a few people who think we’ve never been to the moon — that it was all a staged event. But there also are people who claim the Holocaust never happened. The really scary thought is that some of these same people might get elected to high office. Democracy does have its downside.
I still marvel at the fact that we put a man on the moon. But I really marvel at the fact that we could bring him back safely.
Some years past, I was in St. Augustine, Fla., listening to a presentation on early explorers. The fellow in charge illustrated how these early explorers navigated. Initially, Christopher Columbus just ran into another continent as he was sailing west. The real challenge came in navigating back to that same spot.
Science back then was up against people who thought the earth was flat. Yes, I know, we still have some flat-earthers, metaphorically speaking. And again, there is the chance they can get elected.
To me, saying you don’t buy into much of that “science stuff” is kind of like saying you don’t believe in Wednesday, chili dogs or Southeastern Conference football. It’s not a question of believing. This “stuff” is just there. We did go to the moon. And for those few, the earth is not flat because while on the moon, they looked back and took pictures of it.
Walden is the editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.