Recently, the famed thinker and experimental psychologist Steven Pinker, motivated by the Dark Ages-style disputations of science and the wave of vaccine deniers internationally in the middle of a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, has published a new book entitled Enlightenment Now: The case for reason, science, humanism, and progress.
The author highlights, with 75 characteristic diagrams, the progress made over the centuries in the Western world and humanity in general, achieving longevity, health, prosperity, security, knowledge, and happiness.
He explains that progress is a “gift” of the Enlightenment, which, guided by logic, science, and humanism, defeated the Dark Ages, demonisation, denial, magic, eschatological prophecies, and authoritarianism, which was grounded in all of that and kept people trapped in dogmas of ignorance, fear, and denial.
Sensing that these fundamental principles of the Enlightenment are once again being disputed, threatening to plunge the world into a new cycle of backwardness, he urges everyone with the admonition “Dare to know” to defend them once again.
A simple look at the circles in which deniers lurk demonstrates that the prospect of backpedaling is patently obvious, especially in smaller societies.
In villages and towns, deniers of vaccines, of science, and of rationalism are linked to religious fanaticism, religious Old Calendar dogmatism, Golden Dawn ideology, extreme nationalism, and supposedly invincible deniers who believe, for example, that by drinking the alcoholic beverage tsipouro they will not be infected.
For all these people, either the pandemic does not exist or it is a “curse from God” that does not concern them because they are faithful.
Nothing could be more false, as they ignore the basics. Pandemics existed in human communities almost since they were created.
From the pestilence in ancient Athens during the Peloponnesian War and the plague in the Middle Ages to contemporary flu pandemics, viral infections have always had this stance and behaviour.
They are transmitted from hand to hand and mouth to mouth, through a touch or a breath, and cause major public health crises.
Viruses do not think. They develop where conditions permit. Their evolutionary process is absolutely natural, and variants are nothing more than a confirmation and adjustment to the environment.
The difference now is that we have knowledge, vaccines, and scientific progress.
Vaccines had a positive impact and still do. Combined with measures of professional hygiene and social distancing, they bolster immunity and can stop the advance of the virus.
They have proved their effectiveness every day, and only those with blind fanaticism cannot see that.
On the other hand, wherever there are fissures and a deficit in immunity, the coronavirus will invade and will continue to do its job even as it evolves.
That is precisely what happened with the Omicron variant. It found a wide open field among populations on the African continent, which is full of unvaccinated people and individuals who are immunosuppressed due to AIDS.
Hence, mutations emerge by chance and are the result solely of environmental conditions.
People need only be vaccinated en masse and abide by public health self-protection measures.
At this point, with the good of public health imperilled, there. can be no compromises with circles of denial and backwardness.
Conditions render compulsory vaccination and its expansion necessary.
Public health problems become a major national issue during public health crises.
For this reason, there is no room for compromises or groundless unscientific objections.
Finally, one should not take into account the political cost.