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  • Writer's pictureTroy Riggs

Science, Fact Checkers, and Free Speech

Updated: Apr 18, 2021


Follow the science is the refrain that politicians, citizens, and health care providers are

declaring. While I don’t have an issue with following science, and I think it’s a good idea to do so, I also think it is dangerous when we refuse to allow science to be questioned and dissenting opinions heard. The recent debate over how to deal with COVID-19 is demonstrating how social media and others can eliminate dissenting opinions. We now hear of fact-checkers who decide what is true and what is false. Individuals who are supposed to follow science and facts to make final decisions, not just on COVID-19 but on all things mentioned on social media. It could be COVID, news stories, technology, Biblical principles, or a myriad of other items. This is certainly a dangerous precedent. Dissent, disagreement, and a different way of thinking spurs discussion, debate, and arrival at the truth.


“We must remember that science is usually based on a hypothesis and quite often the hypothesis is incorrect or incomplete.”


It is clear that the followed science has evolved and changed throughout the pandemic in an attempt to protect as many citizens as possible. It is also clear that science, in some cases, has taken a back seat to political considerations. Also, science is not always fact. For instance, the scientific hypothesis that Great Britain is using to distribute the vaccine is vastly different from the European Union and the United States; the reopening of schools across the nation is based on differing positive rates due to varied local health department scientific beliefs. Scientific certainty has changed regarding wearing a mask, safety at venues, and a myriad of other issues. Science, as we have found out, isn’t really as easy to understand as many would lead us to believe.


To illustrate, I will use a few historical examples:

Isaac Newton hypothesized a law of gravity. I still remember as a kid seeing a picture of him sitting under a tree when an apple fell on his head giving him his inspiration. So, Isaac Newton changed the knowledge of science of the day. Eventually, the law of gravity was settled—or was it?


Newton’s hypothesis was later challenged by Albert Einstein, and now psychists are questioning Einstein’s findings. Their science was not incorrect, just incomplete. Science continued to evolve as the quest for knowledge, and discussion, was not stifled.


Galileo was called a heretic and brought up on charges because he challenged the belief that the world was flat. His science was crude compared to today’s methodologies, but his trigonometry was correct—it landed him in trouble because dissenting views were not allowed.


Also, let’s not forget how Nazi Germany used false science to carry out an evil campaign to cleanse the world of “genetically deficient” individuals. Any other view was ridiculed and those who opposed this false, bigoted science were silenced or faced tremendous persecution.


These are just a few of many examples of science evolving or being just plain wrong. My main point is that the United States was built on open debate, discussion, and a search for the truth. In fact, freedom of speech was so revered it is the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. It is the very heart of being American.


I remember growing up where people would say, “I disagree with you, but I will fight for your right to say what you believe.” It was this type of discussion and respectful discourse that led to the building of a great nation, the confrontation of our national sins of slavery and discrimination, and vigorous, productive debates on many issues. My fear is that people will use science, tainted statistical information, or generally assumed beliefs to further their political views and foster their rhetoric, while stifling or eliminating dissenting views and debate. History is replete with individuals who used false information to bring a world to war, cause social unrest, and to oppress many.


I believe we have both an ethical and moral obligation to search for the truth. Truth that can only be found in vigorous debate, research, and the allowance of differing opinions. Blindly following science or any idea can be dangerous when dissenting opinions are eliminated or disallowed. History has taught us the unpleasant results, which endangers our safety, our search for truth, and our collective and individual freedoms.


Just something to think about….

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6 comentários


Michael Armstrong
Michael Armstrong
20 de abr. de 2021

Hey, Troy -


Nicely done. I have a few quibbles (of course):

  1. Science will always be changing to account for new research and new discoveries. However, science will always provide the most trustworthy description available of reality at any given moment in time.

  2. The term "opinion" should always be prefaced by "informed". Objecting to or criticizing science based on uninformed opinion describes much of what we are experiencing today. If you express an opinion that climate change isn't real, I'm gonna want to know if you are qualified to make a realistic judgement - what are your credentials, how did you develop your opinion, can you cite research that supports your opinion, etc.? Just because you have an opinion does…

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Troy Riggs
Troy Riggs
01 de mai. de 2021
Respondendo a

Thanks! I hope all is well. I remember when I was in high school and there was a near panic over the ozone layer depletion. It was gone forever and all we could do was to keep it from depleting even more. Those who said this was a natural occurrence and others who said changes in behavior would stop the destruction and begin replenishment were ridiculed. Now, it is replenishing itself. I am not sure the science was wrong or incomplete, but glad there were scientists willing to push back. Great to hear from you, my friend! BTW: My youngest is going to be an Aggie!

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Bobbie Farmer Kidwell Driver
Bobbie Farmer Kidwell Driver
18 de abr. de 2021

I totally agree. It's like getting a second opinion for surgery's. I've had good surgeons, I ve had bad ones. It's good to research, communicate first. Freedom of speech. Nowadays anything is possible. Who do you trust? Lifes lessons learned. It's sad how recently a 19 yr old shot and killed 8 fedex employee a and injured others. Close to the airport hub. It was the warehouse by Kentucky ave. The 19 yr old killed himself. My quess is, he was on drugs and mentally unstable. The picture showed sores on his face. Be careful in this crazy world we live in. I pray every day. Love you guys,

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Troy Riggs
Troy Riggs
18 de abr. de 2021
Respondendo a

Prayers for Indy!

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Lawrence K Smiley
Lawrence K Smiley
17 de abr. de 2021

Well said, Troy. I'm in total agreement. Lawrence

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Troy Riggs
Troy Riggs
17 de abr. de 2021
Respondendo a

Thanks and hope all is well.

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