Did the scientific truth and freedom of opinions can coexist together?

by 1531014 on September 12, 2016 - 6:30pm

Nowadays, we live in a society where all opinions are consider as important as any others opinions. However, in the beginning of the twenty-first century the political right mix with religious beliefs and misinformation really create a debate on which the science community was constantly criticize. People were wondering who is right and who is not. Therefore, the idea of freedom of opinions makes an arrival.

Scientists participated in their fall of popularity. They always have to conduct new researches and publish new studies in order to survive in the scientific environment. So, by publishing bad articles and bad researches the scientific society lost some supporters. Science studies shook many Baby-Boomer's believes and as a result, many of them believe that science is a marketing tools to benefit big companies interests. For example, at first, the tobacco industry brought a lot of studies that said that tobacco was not bad for people's health and that it was safe to smoke. Later, other studies as completely distorted past studies about it. The consequences of this is the rise of popularity of freedom of opinions which led to the fact that some presidential candidates were saying out loud that evolutionism and creationism are two different opinions and that both are consider to be true. 

However, we cannot blame only the scientists for this altercation, the media are the biggest contributors to the idea of freedom of opinions. Bringing the facts that the truth is subjective to everyone was a great opportunity to create scandals and make moneys out of it. All these scandals made it hard for science to be published in newspapers, magazine or to appear at television. In addition, the arrival of some radio channels who gave the chances to people that do not believe in science to lock themselves up in their own reality and constantly repeat what they want to hear. The effects of this mediatization outside of the U.S. is really weak. However, another factor was involve. Indeed, the public relation firm of big industries was really influence in the political environment, even Harper had a role to play in the war on science here in Canada. 

Now, since our society say that the truth is subjective, it shows multiple values such as faith, fairness, flexibility, freedom of belief, tolerance and more, it imply also that people can retreat in their own narrow-minded reality which going to go in opposition to different values such as wisdom, open-minded, rationality, curiosity and more. There is two moral claims that I think can be appropriate for this article and is that everybody should respect people's autonomy and that always act in your best interest. I use both of the claims because it is a personal interest to stay in our comfortable reality, not argue about complex issues and it is normal to respect this autonomy. What I personally find interesting in this issue is that morally, freedom of opinion is the way to go. However, it is not in our best common interest as a society to retreat in our subjective reality and to stop progressing because otherwise, what is good to argue, debate or criticize about important issues if everyone is right? 

Lapointe, Pascal. “Le temps de a contre-attaque: La vérité scientifique est-elle soluble dans le culte de la liberté d’opinion à tout prix? ” Le Devoirs, vol.107, no 201, Sept. 2016 p.A4.



Interesting topic, I'm glad you chose to write about it. Though I agree that everyone is entitled to have their opinion, I think any opinion should be based on some sort of truth. Any opinion that does not have any truth to it is as good as a lie, dangerous, and as such, should not only be disregarded, but destroyed outright. Though lies can in some situations be of a greater utilitarian moral value, presenting a lie as the truth is immoral, showing a lack of integrity and honesty, which should trump all else. How could it ever be right for an opinion based on pure fantasy, and one based on cold hard scientifically objective facts to be given equal value?