JJ Redick had Kyrie Irving on his most recent podcast and not surprisingly, he asked Kyrie to discuss the controversy over his comments about a flat earth.
As Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out, a flat earth wouldn’t provide the same kind of eclipse. Of course you could argue that a flat earth faces the sun and so would cover the moon in an eclipse. But if the earth was flat and facing the sun then only one side would ever get sunlight. That’s kind of hard to get around, no pun intended.
Plus dozens of people now have circled the earth in space and some have lived there and despite thousands of daily flights for decades, no one has yet managed to find the edge of the earth.
Kyrie went on to say that he thought it was important to do his own research but if you’re not careful that can leads you down rabbit holes, especially over the Internet.
Which leads us to JJ.
During this discussion JJ said he “almost” doesn’t believe in dinosaurs and that they hadn't found any bones until the 19th century and didn’t even have a word for dinosaur until midway through that century.
But that’s just foolish.
People have been digging up what we now call dinosaur bones for thousands of years - they just didn’t know what they were.
The Chinese called them dragon bones. In their view of the world, what else could they have been? It made perfect sense.
In the West, we were taught for centuries that God created all the animals as they are today and some people still firmly believe that the platypus and the dog were put on Earth as is by the hand of God and have never changed since.
The value of the scientific method though is that we can observe, theorize and scrutinize.
You don’t have to look to far to find evidence of evolution. The flu virus changes every year. In England, the peppered moth turned black when smoke stacks pumped out black coal smoke during the Industrial Revolution and turned white again when they stopped. And in a more intimate and potentially deadly sense, bacteria have evolved and now have nearly conquered anti-bacterial medications. We’re down to our last defenses.
JJ and Kyrie are right to argue that you should think for yourself and read extensively and there’s no question that scientists have been wrong many times. In the 19th century many were convinced that the atom could never be split. One argued in the 20th that there was simply nothing left to invent. More recently, we’ve seen debates over what constitutes a healthy diet with some scientists now arguing that fat is a critical part of the human diet and that strictly limiting it does more harm than good and hints that sugar has created or contributed to massive problems like Alzheimer’s. Some are even calling Alzheimer’s another form of diabetes.
The reality is we often simply don’t know and our personal and cultural biases can get in the way of truth.
The best we can do is to follow the scientific method and question everything rigorously. That doesn’t mean accepting everything you find on the Internet, whether it’s support of a flat earth theory or questioning the existence of dinosaurs, and it certainly doesn’t mean scientists can’t be wrong or are incorruptible. Human nature is human nature.
What it does mean though is that to observe, test and reject things that can’t be proven is our best hope. We face many challenges now, from to surging population levels and looming environmental catastrophes to resurgent bacteria and, sadly awash as we are in information and data, willful ignorance.
Our best hope is still the scientific method.
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