The scientific process, at least the way we knew it, was always said to be firmly based on skepticism as a means to test ideas and arrive at the right conclusions, while conformism and echo-chambers were seen as its enemies.
But things are changing, with more and more voices from both the scientific community and institutions calling for elimination of questioning and scrutiny, and for achieving this through censorship of ideas and expressions such as those held by the opponents of vaccination.
Director of Research at the Free Speech Union Radomir Tylecote argues, however, that doing this harms science itself, and could introduce policies that are not unlike those practiced in China, most recently when people were censored for expressing.
Supporting vaccine skeptics’ right to speak while not agreeing with their interpretation of the data, Tylecote focuses on rules and initiatives now happening in the UK, including a demand by the Royal Society and the British Academy to criminalize what they said is anti-vaccination disinformation, as the Labour Party wants to urgently introduce a new censorship act that would deal with this subject.
But Tylecote takes issue with the argument behind these demands that says the British public must be “mentally inoculated” and that censorship would provide for this “inoculation.” On the contrary, he says, preventing free exchange of information would result in a “mental quarantine.”
There’s more irony emerging from the push, such as the Royal Society, whose motto in Latin is, “take nobody’s word for it” – now becoming an advocate of essentially forcing people to do just that, making science more akin to religion.
Beyond the general vaccine skeptic sentiment around vaccines that have been in use for decades, Tylecote looks at the specific situation with coronavirus inoculation, that is producing both troublesome ideas like mandatory inoculation and what he calls perfectly reasonable questions, such as, would that not introduce state control over people’s bodies?
Tylecote sees the potential for what he calls administrative elites “crystallizing around authoritarianism” if the trend continues, while attempts to eliminate “disinformation” and silence criticism, even that which is wrong, in the end eliminate and censor ideas and harm science.