A request for 2017

There has been much discussion about how 2016 was rough: mostly because we saw Donald Trump elected President of the U.S. People talk about a “post-truth” era, and shake their heads.

And yet, many of these same people, those I know, are posting stuff from charlatans like David Wolfe and Deepak Chopra; anti-GMO memes; and other unsubstantiated or demonstrably false nonsense. I have encountered, just in the past year, someone who works in the fitness industry who believes that the topical application of a cream can cure gastro-intestinal issues; people who read and believe horoscopes; and even a couple who question climate science or where and how our species originated.These people all believe themselves to be liberal, even sometimes radically so. But they are not: their beliefs are deeply conservative, stubbornly and religiously resistant to even the simplest check against current, and often longstanding, knowledge through a bit of reading or even, in many cases, a quick (well-informed) web search. In many or most cases, and I’m tempted to say particularly when it comes to GMOs, the level of knowledge is essentially zero.

This has always concerned me, but in the current climate it worries me even more. I think that if we don’t do the work of finding the truths “we” collectively actually do know—which often takes no more than a few minutes—we are, and I don’t use this word lightly, literally doomed.

I am not saying I’m perfect or an expert in all areas. But that is precisely the point: I am open to new information. I want new information.

I’d like to challenge everyone, and I include myself, to question everything and stop making assumptions this year. It’s more critical than ever.

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