Appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher last week, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson touched on a fact that escapes most liberals: When it comes to the propagation of pseudoscience and quackery, they are just as guilty as their right-wing opponents.
Thanks to climate change-denial, young earth creationism, “Agenda 21” conspiracy theories, etc., some Republicans and their followers have earned the moniker of the “Anti-Science Right” – and rightly so. But unfortunately, this has allowed the left to escape responsibility for being the purveyors of some of the most widely believed conspiracies and pseudoscience propaganda on the Internet.
Regardless of where you fall ideologically on these subjects, there’s a good chance you’ve seen the lunatic rantings in your social media news feeds from chemtrail conspiracy theorists, 9/11 truthers, anti-vaxxers, anti-GMO fear-mongering, and the myriad forms of alternative medicine quackery – all dreamed up and disseminated by elements of the left.
During the segment, host Bill Maher brought up the very real problem of science-denying Republicans before he was interrupted by Tyson.
“Don’t be all high and mighty there,” Tyson said to Maher. “Because there is certain aspects of science denial that are squarely in the liberal left.”
“Like?” Maher replied incredulously.
“Oh, really? You want to have that conversation?” Tyson shot back, wondering if Maher really wanted to go down the rabbit hole.
“I know one, but I don’t want to get into it,” Maher replied, subtly referring to anti-vaxxers – a group that he’s shown sympathy to in the past.
Tyson chose the practice of alternative medicine as an example.
“To fully embrace alternative medicine means you are rejecting some forms of established science,” Tyson said.
Ironically, Tyson’s point was reinforced when writer and food personality Eddie Huang chimed in, saying that Tyson’s observations about alternative medicine were “not true.” He then launched into a diatribe about the benefits of ancient Chinese herbal medicine which he blanketly claimed is now being utilized by Western doctors.
The subject was swiftly changed to the evils of “Big Pharma,” and Huang chimed in again with what he felt was an unfair comparison, claiming there’s no way the left and the right “equally deny science.”
“Let’s not have a false equivalency and say the liberals are as bad,” Maher interrupted. “Size matters. Republicans are worse.”
As Maher changed the subject back to global warming and creationism, Tyson looked like he was resigned to the fact that the conversation wouldn’t look at the problem objectively.