Science is evolving—on Twitter, at least.
On Wednesday, new Twitter CEO Elon Musk continued to shake the social-media site's Etch a Sketch. Musk unveiled a brand new science policy: “New Twitter policy is to follow the science, which necessarily includes reasoned questioning of the science.”
It's an obvious deviation from the past. The previous policy was not as much a science-based one as a political one. For a long time, online and elsewhere, Trust the Science™ appeared to be more of a “You are not allowed to express distrust in the science” policy. Unfortunately, “the science” has repeatedly been wrong. It's also sad that not being able to say things that may be—or even are— incorrect has become so classically American.
But what exactly is science, anyway? It appears to be a mix of both science and ideology: “University Seeks Science Professor Who Can Be Anything but a One-Spirit Man With a Penis,” “State University of New York Trains Nurses on the Anatomy of the ‘Genderbread Person’,” “Biology Professor Insists More Transgender Scientists Will Produce ‘Much More Robust Science’,” “Scientific American: The Racist Myth of Binary Sex Wasn’t Invented ‘Til Nearly 1800,” “Nearly a Dozen Medical Schools Undergo an ‘Antiracist Transformation’,” “University Renames Its Women’s Clinic Because ‘Women’ Was Medically Inaccurate.”
If those weren't enough: “Hospitals Are Starting to Ask Men if They’re Pregnant,” “Mental Health Journal’s Article on ‘Parasitic Whiteness’ Laments There’s ‘Not Yet a Permanent Cure’,” “Report: ‘DEI’ in Science Publications Has Surged by More Than 4,000 Percent,” “‘New Scientific Evidence’: World Health Organization Discovers There Are More Than Two Sexes,” “Science Journal Decries Racism in Geology, Claims Black People Are Too Scared to Hold Hammers,” “Yale Medical School Welcomes Psychiatrist Who Dreams of ‘Unloading a Revolver Into the Head of Any White Person’.”
Returning to the Twitter feed, Elon took a pointed poke at Dr. Anthony “The Science” Fauci. Here are some of the highest-paid taxpayer-funded employee’s quotes:
- “A lot of what you’re seeing as attacks on me, quite frankly, are attacks on science.”
- “It’s easy to criticize, but they’re really criticizing science because I represent science.”
- “People who…criticize me…are actually criticizing science.”
Musk revealed a personal science policy of his own: “Anyone who says that questioning them is questioning science itself cannot be regarded as a scientist.”
As Elon says, the very nature of science is to challenge what we think we know. Twitter is now allowing posts for that; before, posts were restricted to only what one group of people believed they knew but did not.
This is a wonderful thing for all of us, since questions are always a source of responses that haven't yet been made. Hopefully, other institutions will follow the same pattern. Some may take longer than others (such as the government of California!).
Science needs to make room for new challenges. There are real world problems that require the use of real science to address them.