I usually read Jim Bowman’s incoherent blog rants as a curiosity and nothing more, since I think it’s clear that the vast majority of our region find his uber-conservative views abhorrent and ill-informed. But sometimes, ramblings can also be dangerous.
I find it quite troubling that this newspaper would give space to his recent diatribes against science and mask-wearing (see his recent blogs on Aug 13 and 21). Jim is not a doctor, nor an epidemiologist, nor even a scientist of some other variety, yet he seems to be advocating against social distancing and mask-wearing, two of the best measures that we have to protect against the insidious virus affecting so many — not only globally but here at home in Illinois and Oak Park/River Forest.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that social-distancing and mask-wearing help reduce and eliminate transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which has so far claimed the lives of 175,000 Americans and over 8,000 Illinoisans.
It’s hard for me to fathom how someone could claim that we shouldn’t be social-distancing. And there is now also reasonable evidence that wearing a mask may protect not only others from you if you are shedding the virus, but may also offer the wearer protection against severe COVID-19 by reducing viral loads that are received.
If even one person reads Jim’s column and decides to take unnecessary and potentially dangerous risks, that is one person too many.
It is true that this newspaper, and indeed, all newspapers, should be a marketplace of ideas. But as a scientist myself, I find it appalling that we would give space to anti-science rants in my hometown periodical. I doubt that I would read a story about the type of cheese that the moon is made out of in these pages. Why? Some statements are scientifically wrong, plain and simple. In this case, it is one that is potentially fatal in addition to being false.
The beauty of science, when done properly, is that it learns from past mistakes and self-corrects toward the truth. Science has brought us closer to a vaccine than anyone thought possible in such a short time, and has taught us how to largely halt the virus until that time arrives, if we all do our part to keep each other safe. Ignoring science is appalling at best, and dangerous at worst.
I respectfully request that this paper support and nurture the local community it represents and stop giving space to this ignorant anti-science crusader.