One of our long time Dopers sent me this comment on Facebook and I’d like to share it with you. They have requested anonymity so I will not call them out by name … but I do appreciate the sentiment.
It speaks to something I believe as well – this place can be a powerful force for increasing knowledge in this world and I hope you will all do more of that work; it’s more artillery in the Battle Against Ignorance, which is never-ending.
So, last week I attended the national American chemical society annual conference. As I was checking out of the hotel at stupid o’clock in the morning, I chatted with the guy behind the desk. He saw from the tag around my neck that I was attending ACS. It was early and nobody else was around, and I guess I seemed friendly enough that he felt comfortable enough to say “I’ve always wanted to know…” He then asked a chemistry question which was way, way wrong. I understood, and took the time to explain to him what the reality was, and he was genuinely grateful for it.
I thought to myself: you know, there needs to be a place where people can feel comfortable and safe to ask their questions about science and medicine and the world. Where they won’t be made fun of, where people won’t roll their eyes or make the asker feel stupid.
That maybe one of the reasons for the rise in anti-vaccination in part comes from when a new Mom or dad in concerned about their baby goes looking, pro-vaccinators start rolling their eyes and lecturing and being angry at the person for asking. Whereas the anti-vaxxers go “oh, yes, it’s perfectly reasonable for you to be concerned! And you should be!” And they feed into the person’s fears.
And then I realized that this is exactly what the Straight Dope always was, a place where people could come to ask literally anything and not be talked down to or made to feel shitty for their ignorance.
So, for what it’s worth, keep up the good work. In this age of disinformation, now more than ever it is critical for resources like SD to be available to people.
And thank you for all of your hard work. And I’m sorry that it took me literally decades to appreciate just how important SD is.
Best of luck to you. You never know what will inspire people to learn more. It could be a nerdy ninja turtle or Mythbusters or a newspaper column. The important thing is to get people asking questions. Asking questions means you don’t just accept things at face value. I don’t claim to be a sociologist but I will bet it’s one of the healthier attitudes for a society to encourage.
I could not agree more.