Alexander Nevzorov: I see no threat coming from the Internet
Anti-vaccination movement is one of the most controversial and widely discussed topics in the US. As the Guardian recently wrote, scientists at George Washington University has found out that Russian trolls and bots spread misinformation about vaccines on Twitter in order to «sow discord» in the American society and undermine consensus about vaccine safety. How dangerous is this kind of manipulation of the public debate and spreading of the false and distorted information that are happening online? Is there a serious hidden threat to the modern society posed by the opportunities provided by the World Wide Web? Alexander Nevzorov replies to these questions in his new article for The Business Courier.
As far as the topic of vaccination itself is concerned, it can’t be said that nobody has an opposite point of view regarding it. This point of view exists and has a good basis in scientific fact.
For example, in Russia where the quality of vaccines and the professionalism of those who apply them are in doubt, this question is always open for debate because one never knows what else they can inject other than vaccine itself, how it would be done and where this vaccine was produced and storaged before use.
But even if we put these particular concerns aside, the topic of vaccines is hardly a closed chapter from the more deep-rooted and serious point of view – for example, from the point of view of the evolutionary medicine that is very popular in the West right now and is often considered a norm in clinical as well as theoretical questions.
Any topic, probably with the exception of physical constants such as the fine-structure constant and gravitational parameters must be questioned. Science teaches us to think critically about everything other than constants. And there can be nothing forbidden or strictly dogmatic when science is involved.
Of course, Internet is full of all sorts of garbage. But if we look at the amount of actual garbage produced by humanity, Internet is a little kid compared to that. And there’s no doubt that the informational garbage is much less harmful than the garbage people generate and see piling up around them.
Informational garbage might be dangerous because it confuses some people, points them in the wrong direction and misdirect their thought process. But only think about it – does it really matter what the IKEA furniture assembler thinks about Egyptian pyramids or, let’s say, a hydrogen wall around the Milky Way? Or vaccinations? Science will sort this out on its own. It’s already well-versed in some of the most important questions and will unswervingly and persistently continue its job, always being in doubt when it comes to facts. And there’s no difference what people who are not smart or don’t have anything to do with the resolution of complicated issues think.
Radical or ignorant points of view are outside the realm of science. Clinical researchers, theoreticians and medical practitioners are not impressed by the opinions of the saucepan sellers, amazing table makers, hipsters, layabouts, misfits or cute dancers. These are two different dimensions. And even if these opinions are expressed, they stay in a precise realm where they were born and exist. This boiling, swirling ignorance isn’t capable of influencing real science.
When it comes to political sphere and political decisions, we see that they often turn out to be erroneous in any case. If politicians are really mature and rational, when it comes to resolving serious issues, they put their trust in the scientific world and expert opinions of real professionals. If they’re not smart, they should be simply ignored, because they will act silly and do something silly anyway.
I never see any threat in anything, including the Internet. These internet-discussions don’t have an impact on a person who is protected by knowledge, who lives in a world of particular wisdom. By the same token the issues regarding vaccinations will be resolved not by internet-communities, but at a different level altogether that never overlaps with the online reality we’re talking about.
For the same reason there’s no point in talking about dumbing down of some minds by the Internet. They’re already dumbed down enough and can hardly be made any sillier. More than that, they find a lot of pleasure in this dumbing down process, and it happens at the levels where the problem we discuss is absolutely far-fetched. It doesn’t matter what a Mexican drug lord thinks about the Earth’s rotation or the atmospheric composition of Jupiter. He can think whatever he wants. It doesn’t make any difference.