I haven’t signed into my Skeptoid blog account in about a month now. My responsibilities to my students, my family, and my own well-being make it difficult at times to write a well thought-out piece. It is even more difficult to try to keep up with the comments; some are engaging and interesting, while others are emotional defenses of unscientific positions. It certainly takes a toll.
The news from the day I am writing this (November 4th, 2015) is a demonstration of the emotional toll this can take. Science communicator and biotechnology expert Kevin Folta has communicated he is indefinitely suspending his activities to communicate science. He posted a brief blog post stating as such.
Many of the skeptical pages I follow on social media expressed their sadness and understanding for his decision. Folta certainly loves communicating science. He explained a little further on his public Facebook page:
I don’t want to compare myself to Folta in the impact or reach of my science communication. I know what I deal with is very small to what Folta has had to deal with this year. I simply wanted to express I have a level of empathy, because I imagine the days where I feel attacked by those in the anti-science camp is multiplied by many times in Folta’s case. What a horrible feeling to be attacked nearly constantly doing something you love and honestly know is doing good in the world.
I communicate science to give back in a small way what other science communicators have done for me. People like Steven Novella, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Brian Cox reignited my desire to help others understand more about the world. I get to do this teaching physics. I get to do this on this blog. I can’t imagine being attacked so fiercely that I would need to give any of it up. I hope I never have to give it up.
Dr. Folta: good luck to you. I hope you come back and communicate with us really soon. If you choose not to, I don’t think there is one supporter of science who faults you for decision. Thank you for everything you have done to help support science; I know you will continue to do great things training the next generation of scientists.
To those vicious people who attack scientists for their honest effort to make the world better: shame on you. You benefit from science so many times a day it is nearly impossible to count. You harm progress and scientific literacy when you choose to only believe evidence you like. Your actions are the true harm to society.
And to the skeptic community: thank you for showing such resolve already today. It is nice to know that even though we won’t have Kevin’s voice, we will all pick up a little piece of it and carry it forward together. I know I feel better knowing all of us working together can keep those who profit from fear in check.
Links to other skeptics’ thoughts: