War on Science No Joke, Not Just US, Threatens Global Survival

January 23, 2018


A relative mourned next to the body of a polio vaccination worker who was killed by gunmen in Quetta, Pakistan, on Thursday. Arshad Butt/Associated Press

As our own home grown Taliban thrives under an anti-science administration, might be a useful exercise to ponder where it leads.

When you reflect that anti-vaccination shibboleths have made their way into Republican Presidential debates in the USA, you see the problem.


Two polio vaccinators — a mother-daughter team — were shot dead in Pakistan on Thursday, the first time in two years that the polio eradication drive had been shaken by assassinations.

While tragic, the killings in Baluchistan Province will not seriously disrupt Pakistan’s eradication drive, said one of its leaders.

“We are very close to winning the battle,” said Aziz Memon, a textile executive who heads Rotary International’s local polio vaccination efforts.

Last year, Pakistan had only eight confirmed cases of polio paralysis; four years ago, the nation had 306.

The only other country with continuing transmission of polio is Afghanistan, which had 14 cases last year, most of them in provinces adjoining Pakistan and among Pashtuns, the predominant ethnic group in border areas.

Two years ago, the blast of a suicide bomber near a polio center in Quetta, the province’s main city, killed a local official and 13 police officers assigned to guard vaccination teams. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The vaccinators, a 38-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter, were each shot in the head by motorcycle-riding assassins, the Pakistani authorities said. Mr. Memon said he would go to Quetta to console and compensate the widower, a truck driver with six other children. In the past, Rotary has given the families of murdered vaccinators thousands of dollars.

India has it’s own analog of the Republican Party.


NEW DELHI—A new front has opened in the war on science in India. On Friday, India’s minister for higher education, Satyapal Singh, took aim at the theory of evolution. Calling himself “a responsible man of science,” Singh, a chemist, suggested that Darwin’s theory is “scientifically wrong” and “needs to change” in school and university curricula. In remarks on the sidelines of a conference in Aurangabad, in central India, Singh further noted that “nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man.”


Higher Education Minister Satyapal Singh on Friday labeled the theory of evolution “scientifically wrong,” provoking a backlash

Top scientists have condemned Singh’s remarks. They “seem to be aimed at politically polarizing science and scientists, and that is the real danger we must guard against,” says Raghavendra Gadagkar, immediate past president of the Indian National Science Academy and an ecologist at the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. Yesterday, India’s three science academies released a statement endorsed by more than 2000 scientists, declaring that “it would be a retrograde step to remove the teaching of the theory of evolution from school and college curricula or to dilute this by offering nonscientific explanations or myths.”

Singh is not the only voice in India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) espousing antiscience views. The government took heat last year over an effort to validate panchagavya, a folk remedy based on cow dung, as a cure-all, and in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that the world’s first plastic surgery was performed in India when the Hindu deity Ganesh was created with a human body and an elephant head. “The BJP is the fountainhead of scientific nonsense,” says opposition politician Jairam Ramesh, a mechanical engineer by training.

This Newsweek item is 4 years old, but illustrative:

In the last year, more health-care workers and volunteers have been killed trying to prevent the spread of polio, than the number of people who have died from the disease itself according to data from the WHO and estimates from the Polio Global Eradication Initiative.

Three female polio vaccinators, along with their driver, became the latest victims earlier this week after militants opened fire on their vehicle in Quetta, Pakistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria are the three remaining polio-endemic countries and over the past year there have been over 80 polio-related killings in Pakistan, and nine in Nigeria, meaning a total of 89 overall.

Whilst it is difficult to determine the exact number of deaths, the Polio Eradication Initiative estimate that between 15 and 30 people have died from the disease this year, significantly fewer than the number of people murdered whilst trying to prevent the spread of the disease.


4 Responses to “War on Science No Joke, Not Just US, Threatens Global Survival”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    So who’s as bad as the US and A? The Taliban. The headline is hilarious.

  2. ” Singh further noted that “nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man.” That settles evolutionary science right there. No need for any further investigation. Although?https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/may/18/lukeharding

  3. J4Zonian Says:

    “Singh further noted that “nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral, have said they saw an ape turning into a man.” ”

    No, but thanks to Singh, we now have direct evidence of a man turning into an ass, so theory saved.

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