Editor Speak | Weird Science

Photo by Mim Adkins

A headline in the April 20, 2017, edition of USA Today caught my eye: “People trust science. So why don’t they believe it?” The writer was grappling with the notion that while many people claim to have full faith in science, when they’re confronted with data that contradicts what they believe—regarding global warming or vaccinations, for example—they’ll pitch the science out the window before they’ll change what they believe.

“It gets even more complicated,” the story reads. “Once we’ve convinced ourselves of something, research suggests facts don’t appeal to us. . . . When you encounter facts that don’t support your idea, your belief in that idea actually grows stronger.”

What do I believe? That if the writer was looking for confirmation, all she’d have to do is talk to a dance teacher. How many of us have stood there, arguing with all the logic and patience we can muster, about why little Lily-Jane can’t jump into the Level 4 ballet class? “Dance is a process . . . blah blah . . . without a strong foundation she won’t be able to master more difficult work . . . yada yada . . . dancers in the wrong level struggle, become frustrated, and drop out,” you tell the parent. I’m sure you can fill in any number of perfectly valid arguments, all of them based not only on years of training by the dance education industry but on your own personal experience.

And at the end, as you stand there mentally panting, your mind exhausted from zipping about in search of the perfect “can’t argue with that logic” phrase, the parent is unmoved. Unbudging. A Stonehenge in Sportos. “I know Lily-Jane can do it,” she says. “I think the challenge will be good for her.”

Encounters like these have frothed in my head for days. What did I say? What didn’t I say? What could I have said better? But now, newly armed with the info in this USA Today article, I know that my knowledge and experience are no match for a set mind.

State your piece, then sleep easy, sisters. You’ve got science on your side. —Karen White


DSL associate editor Karen White, a former newspaper reporter and freelance writer, has taught dance in private studios and choreographed musicals since age 17 and has no plans to stop.