The Ivory Tower and Poisoned Wells
Years ago the Ivory Tower was a place where scientists cloistered themselves to do research without bias and results were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Those reading the research made the decisions whether or not the research was useful and decide to act upon it or not.
Indeed, physicians were considered capable of reading the research and making their own decisions about whether to incorporate the findings into their practice or not. A lot of this research was housed on college campuses and much of it in government facilities. The implication was that the researchers weren’t terribly concerned about the every day lives of those outside their community. In truth, the public considered the Ivory Tower sort of out of touch with reality.
Times have changed. The internet has made it possible for the Ivory Tower crowd to commune with the rest of us in the everyday world. So now every research paper in existence is blasted from the Ivory Tower as being the truth and everything else is misinformation. Doesn’t matter that the research studies may contradict each other. Yet we all know that research studies give various results for many reasons, and indeed, some research results relied upon for years are overturned by later studies. Dr. Vinay Prasad explained the cycling of research notions in “Reversal, Replacement, and Reassessment in Medicine.” But with the tumbling of the walls of the Ivory Tower, the internet has made it possibly for research to be shouted from on high, clearly belittling the people in the everyday world for making their own decisions. Science is declared the only vessel of truth and any closer look at the various possibilities is declared to be lies. As we can all see, this does little more than create a screaming bunch of people claiming they somehow have the only real truth.
We didn’t have scientific studies in the Middle Ages, but anyone who didn’t like what their neighbor was doing could poison the city well. Literally. I suggest that the ridiculous animosity between those who would rather remain unvaccinated and those who think everyone should be forced to be vaccinated is little more than well poisoning. It was barbaric in the Middle Ages and the internet hasn’t made the well poisoning any less destructive.