No shortage of science deniers over history

While waiting to pay for my transaction at a local convenience-store-gas-station, I noticed the clerk (a lady about 50 years old) was mask-less. When it became my turn, I asked her, “Why are you not wearing a mask?” Without hesitation and with bravado, she replied, “I don’t believe it!” I countered/questioned, “You don’t believe Wisconsin had 6,000 new cases yesterday? You don’t believe 240,000 Americans have died from this pandemic?” She doubled down, deflecting away from the issue — COVID-19 to abortions and the common flu — as though her deflection/rebuttal somehow “proved” she was right and I was wrong. I dropped it, as I have come to know science deniers all too well, especially these past 20 years.

Denial of proven science has been around “forever.” During my seven-plus decades, such denial includes the polio vaccine of 1955, the connection of smoking with lung cancer and climate change.

From a Nov. 8 article from Scientific American, “The Denialist Playbook,” the six principals from their playbook are: 1. Doubt the science, 2. Question scientists’ motives and integrity, 3. Magnify disagreements among scientists and cite gadflies as authorities, 4. Exaggerate potential harm, 5. Appeal to personal freedom, 6. Reject whatever would repudiate a key philosophy.

When people feel a strong connection to a political party, ideology or belief, they are more likely to let that allegiance do their thinking for them, and distort or ignore the scientific evidence that challenges their loyalties.

That is exactly what we are witnessing today, with COVID-19, with many Americans in some degree of denial, downplaying what is explosively unfolding before their very eyes.

I encourage you to google the aforementioned Scientific American article. Read it ... it is enlightening.

Steve Hogseth

Menomonie

Television programming could be improved

The television of my young years had two types of programming that relied on belief in (or at least acceptance of) abnormal behavior: the soap opera and professional wrestling. The bulk of the other programs were of a type that the average viewer could relate to on a real-world level. Suspension of belief was a given, of course, if you were watching “Superman.”

Given the number of so-called reality shows (a subset of the soap opera) available now, we are at risk of normalizing the abnormal. I just came upon a quote from Neil Postman that bears on this: “When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk ...”

I’m not suggesting a return to “Father Knows Best”-type programming; something between that kind of program and this current mania for soap operas/reality shows (especially the one centered in our White House) would be an improvement.

Dan and Mary Fisher

Eau Claire

President endangers America’s heritage

Polar bears, caribou herds and migratory birds are at grave risk. President Donald Trump is fast-tracking the auction of drilling rights in the entire coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

Wildlife is already endangered in the Arctic where climate change is happening at a much faster rate than in other regions of the world. Adding habitat destruction from drilling could be the breaking point for sensitive wildlife and the indigenous people dependent on them.

While Trump is directing our attention to unsubstantiated election claims, he is fast-forwarding polices that favor the fossil fuel industry and his political interests — but not the common good. Auction of drilling rights in the Arctic could begin in December.

Public outcry, and support of environmental organizations pursuing legal action against destructive drilling, can make a difference. Major U.S. banks have already sworn off financing Arctic drilling, except for one (sc.org/arcticbofa).

Trump has opened 5.4 million acres of national monuments to drilling and exploitation, leaving irreplaceable national heritage vulnerable to permanent damage. Bears Ears Monument was reduced by 85%, losing protection of its ancient rock art, cliff dwellings and cultural sites. Joe Biden could reverse reduction of national monuments but only for his presidential term. Long-lasting protection is needed.

Protection of our public lands, wildlife, environment, air and water quality is paramount to the legacy we leave our children. This legacy should not be sold off for political gain or nonessential short-term interests. There’s too much to lose.

Kathy Kascewicz

Fifield

A little effort found friend’s phone number

In a Google search looking for a friend’s landline telephone number, nothing came up on my cellphone screen. Had a thought to send off an email to the Eau Claire library reference desk asking if they had such a dinosaur of a thing like a phone book in the collection, adding my friend’s name and last known address.

They responded with, “Oh no, we have no such thing in the collection.” I envisioned her at her desk, spinning in her chair and laughing. However, they did have the phone number I was looking for that they found in their database. Which she sent to me — and was still working.

At times it seems like iPhones versus landlines or Androids versus iPhones.

Leo Thiner

Eau Claire

Abuse of power too much in Krebs firing

President Donald Trump has once again refuted reality by firing people who are trying to do the right thing.

On Nov. 17, he fired DHS top official Christopher Krebs. Krebs was only stating the facts about the election. Inevitably he was fired because facts go against Trump’s fantasy.

What Trump did is abuse of power. Especially during a lame-duck session, these actions are sowing further chaos and are harmful to our country. I call on Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Ron Kind to make strong public statements to support the election results that President-elect Joe Biden has won, and to denounce Trump’s abuse of power for his petulance.

Jerry Hui

Eau Claire