Intolerance to a view that may be different or uncomfortable is increasingly and dangerously rearing its head in science, as well.
The attempt to “cancel” a viewpoint became visible internationally during Covid-19, where people asking genuine questions on the vaccine, any vaccine, were labelled “anti-vaxxers”, even if they were not. Factual queries — on adverse events linked to vaccines, changing goal-posts of medical therapies or vaccine mandates, for example, were viewed with suspicion, even if the questions were from members of the scientific community. Logical queries from regular folk, like why a vaccine restricted in a segment of population in a certain country was being rampantly used in another — was met with steely silence. Science has enough examples of people ostracised or silenced for having a view different from the mass. And traditional medicine, for example, has been subject to such ridicule and allegations of quackery, for a long time now — from various international and local quarters who claim to be scientific. Only, they forget, a scientific mind needs to be open to multiple influences and viewpoints. And whether or not Albert Einstein said it, but really, you cannot judge a fish by how it climbs a tree.
This time, the boot is on the other foot. And a doctor who has been vocal, even shrill in his evaluation of traditional medicines, has had his account on X (formerly Twitter) withheld, after a Bengaluru-based company took legal recourse. Without getting into details of the case — the doctor is finding support from many quarters, including those who did not agree with his views — there should be no “holy grails” in science. Questions should be asked of traditional medicine, and modern drugs. A mature society defends one’s right to a view, even if that runs against the popular one. That should be the case, more so in science.