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Science And Society: Aspects And Effects

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This essay will attempt to discuss in detail the history of certain prevalent pseudosciences currently taking place in society today: The anti-vaccination trend, the Flat-Earth theory and movement, and Astrology. It will also discuss how these pseudosciences have impacted modern society’s perceptions of the notions created by actual science, and how easy it is for these theories to turn the public against science.

One of the most prominent examples of pseudoscience impacting society’s view of real science is the anti-vaccination movement. This trend has been and is still a very large part of society, with its beginning dating back centuries. Originally, vaccines were met with disbelief of science and fearful though that one would lose their loss of individual freedom. In England 1853, there were laws implemented forcing vaccinations become mandatory, however this was later repealed. This created an extraordinary development of state powers, and was held with fear by many in both the public eye as well as the intellectual populace. Parents who did not agree with the laws to have their children vaccinated faced heavy consequences, from lofty fines to being imprisoned.

A large number of these parents joined anti-vaccination groups, of whom debated for their rights as individuals, and to decide independently what they believed was the best move for their children. Nevertheless, in the 1890s there were outbreaks of smallpox. These sudden breakouts rapidly transformed cities such as Gloucester, which was previously a centre ground for the anti-vaccination movement to change motives and support vaccinations .

An additional reason for the anxiousness surrounding vaccinations includes the uneasiness surrounding its possible side effects. There was a major scare in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s regarding the whooping cough vaccine and was followed up by publications of a chain of cases in 1974 proposing a link that joined the vaccine neurological issues. However , there was a decline of 77% to 13% of vaccine coverage after the media sought out attention and exposure of these publications . This developed into three considerably large outbreaks of whooping cough. There was never any proof that agreed with the association between the vaccine and neurological harm, and by the 1980s, inoculation rates had spiked back to pre-1974 levels .

The most notable and dangerous example of anti-vaccination influence in the United Kingdom debatably relates to Andrew Wakefield, who led a study of which was officially debunked in 1998. In this study, Wakefield made claims there was a discerning link to the MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine and autism. Wakefield’s study caused worldwide suspicion and fear towards the MMR vaccine, primarily due to the media portraying Wakefield to be whistle-blowing. Within the context of abundantly low cases of the diseases this vaccine worked against (bizarrely due to abundance in coverage) many families believed the risk inherited with the vaccine was greater than the benefits.

Between 2003 and 2004, only 79.9% of children were treated with the MMR vaccine before their second birthday, all the while rates in Scotland and Whales had decreased. As a result of the Wakefield scandal, there was a measles outbreak that set a record high in Europe, estimating 41 000 cases in August 2018 .

The 1998 study created worldwide repercussions, reaching out to anti-vaccination crowds around the globe and encouraged the attitude anti-vaccination believers have today. It is difficult to know exactly how large the anti-vaccination movement is. Several countries in North America and Europe have witnessed decreases in vaccine reportage over the last twenty years and, comparably, an increase in contagious diseases. For Example, in the USA there was a rise in cases of infectious diseases in 2017 for the first time in history . With this in mind, it is disturbing to think the anti-vaccination movement in the USA may have made considerable steps forward after the United States President Donald Trump tweeted the belief that vaccinations cause autism – “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”

In conclusion, even with the abundant amount of evidence of studies that support vaccinations, there are still groups in the general public disprove and argue with their own evidence, despite being seemingly is not backed up by any concrete evidence, making the anti-vaccination movement a pseudoscience that is still impacting on the real science in support of vaccines. The Flat Earth theory is an ancient hypothesis, suggesting the Earth’s shape being as a flat circle or disc. This idea was vowed by numerous ancient civilisations. This included ancient Greece as late as the classical era, the Bronze Age and also Iron Age civilisations in the Near East (Western Africa, Turkey, Egypt) until the Hellenistic period (323BC – 31BC), And China until as recently as the 17th century. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras was the first to propose the spherical Earth theory, in spite of the fact numerous pre-Socratics held onto the flat Earth idea. It wasn’t until circa 330BC when Aristotle brought forth evidence supporting Pythagoras’ spherical Earth theory. Afterward, this enlightenment of the new theory gradually dispersed beyond the Hellenistic world from then on.

Today, the flat Earth theory is still brought up in modern society, with groups around the world who still believe in the hypothesis, that dates back to the mid-20th century. The theory is being increasingly adopted by individuals via social media, who do not associate with the larger groups around the world . Furthermore, these groups are often motivated by the pseudoscience or biblical liberalism to support their claims. Thus, despite the countless cases of science disproving the Earth is flat , believers in the theory are still adamant. In this “Internet era”, the rapid increase in technological communication and social media programs we have today including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, have presented the public, celebrities as well as ‘normal’ people, a platform to voice their pseudoscientific ideas . Due to this, the assumptions of flat-Earth have proliferated. Thus, the internet and social media has made it less difficult for theorists to join with others and bolster their opinions. Due to that, scientists and experts are less trusted by the public mind than they once were.

Organisations that are sceptical of fringe beliefs on occasion have presented experiments to prove the Earth has a curvature. For example, in June 2018 a test was managed by people from an investigations group at the Salton Sea in the United States. Members of the Flat Earth also attended this experiment. The National Geographic Explorer recorded the encounter between the two factions. The test was performed by showing the disappearance over a distance of targets placed on a boat on the lake and on the edge of the shore. The experiment was a success .

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“Flat-Earthers” also employ techniques such as confirmation bias and conspiracy theory to support their arguments, because there is no actual scientific data to support their theories. Conspiracy theories are a major part of defending their beliefs.

The explanation that is used the most the world’s space agencies faked the moon landing, and are still pretending we can travel to space. This possibly initiated during the Cold War’s ‘Space Race’ , when the USA and the USSR were hell-bent on being the first superpower to get to space. This got to the point that each country falsified achievements in order to stay in line with the other’s apparent accomplishments. However, when the Cold War ended, the conspiracy is expected to have been influenced by greed as opposed to political amplification .

The flat-Earth movement is nothing new to society, however, due to the rise of the internet and social media, finding an answer has been made much more accessible, as well as exercising freedom of speech. While science is an ever-growing movement of knowledge, the thin line of demarcation of science gives pseudoscience ideologies claim to scientific jurisdiction, and the flat-earth movement is no exception.

Astrology is defined as “the study of movements and positions of the sun, moon, and the stars in the belief that they affect the character and lives of people” . Uses of Astrology have been dated to as early as the third millennium BC. The calendrical system used to predict the change of the seasons and to understand astronomical cycles as signs of divine communication . Astrology has been considered a pseudoscience as it doesn’t serve as an explanation for an illustration of the universe . Today, astrology remains very popular, often finding articles in newspapers and magazines, containing a paragraph for each sun sign for the week of publication (Libra, Cancer, etc.), usually outlining one’s feelings, ambitions, and so on.

Astrology has been under scientific investigation for some time, and it is generally found that there has been no confirmation that support the models summarised in astrological traditions . There has been no scientific modelling for how the placements and movements of the planets and stars have effects on humans and Earth that does not conflict with basic features of physics and biology. According to Bart, members of the public who maintain their beliefs in astrology are identified doing so “… in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary” . A prominent psychological factor that is instrumental in its ideologies is confirmation bias. The members of the public who believe in astrology usually only recollect predictions that are and can become true, but forget any of the predictions that are false. Similarly, people also find it very easy to relate what their weekly horoscope says with their own life, as what is written is generally very vague, broad, and can easily apply to anyone’s life. Furthermore, it makes the readers feel like the horoscope is tailor-written for them. This is a clear example of the Barnum Effect .

Science philosopher Karl Popper first suggested that astrology be labelled a pseudoscience proposed with falsifiability . Popper assessed astrology as “pseudo-empirical”, and that “it appeals to observation and experiment … nevertheless [astrology] does not come up to any scientific standard” .

People who follow astrology place trust in the divinations and advice offered by astrologers, without thinking of needing any proof or verification. Sadly, the horoscope predictions placed by astrologers in newspapers, magazines, and on social media platforms are not questioned for validity or evidence by those who follow astrology. In doing so, they’re not gathering any actual knowledge. Instead, the prophecies show really how much of a lack in understanding people have of what science actually is, and the dissimilarity trust-based opinions and proven scientific theory. Despite their extraordinary claims, many tests prove that astrologers cannot predict the future.

There are occasional disputes between believers and non-believers astrology is formed from statistics. Due to that fact, the predictions may not be exact for everyone. If what astrologers claim is fact, the people including scientists should be able to find a relationship between astrological tradition and the signs someone was born under. Many scientists have attempted to prove this theory, alas no one has ever found a link.

Astrology is certainly a pseudoscience; unlike real scientific fields of study, it’s based on hypothesis but is not supported by any homogenous evidence. Instead, astrology abandons the notion of real science investigation and discovery with magic and spirituality.

In conclusion, pseudosciences like mentioned above, are based on hypothesis but with no regular supporting evidence. Under this fashion, the anti-vaccination movement, flat-Earth theory, and Astrology are prime candidates to be labelled a pseudoscience. The differentiation between objective and subjective conception is paired with the differentiation between real science and pseudoscience. Proper scientific findings are given a false idea by pseudoscience and support anti-intellectual attitudes whilst condemning critical thinking. These three examples are self-replicating notions that do not meet the criteria that science follows.

In a way, they take the easy way out and spread their ideologies around the world for members of the public who are easily exploitable and turn them against the methodologies of real science. This poses a real threat for science and there needs to be discussion to at least attempt to balance the distrust with open-mindedness.

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Science And Society: Aspects And Effects. (2022, February 24). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/science-and-society-aspects-and-effects/
“Science And Society: Aspects And Effects.” Edubirdie, 24 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/science-and-society-aspects-and-effects/
Science And Society: Aspects And Effects. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/science-and-society-aspects-and-effects/> [Accessed 9 Aug. 2022].
Science And Society: Aspects And Effects [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 24 [cited 2022 Aug 9]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/science-and-society-aspects-and-effects/
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