This presents a puzzle: Why do people distrust or dispute so many aspects of science, but unanimously accept, without question, the ridiculously specific predictions on offer for every eclipse?

Why the selective denial of science?

One possible reason is that we’ve been right on eclipses every time before. But for most people, a total eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most people won’t have experienced such predictions first hand, and will have to take it on trust that what’s happened before for others will happen again for them.

Another explanation might be that, unlike the case for climate change or vaccinations, the science behind eclipses is simple and uncontroversial. While it’s true that astronomers have been making reasonably accurate eclipse predictions for thousands of years, the required calculations are highly complex, extending far beyond the mathematics covered in high school or even in many university courses. Most people would find it difficult to reproduce or confirm any of these eclipse predictions for themselves.

The more likely answer is that eclipses are not a threat. There is nothing at stake. Eclipses do not endanger our way of life or our standard of living. Nobody fears that eclipses might have economic implications, could challenge our belief system, or threaten our children. There are no anti-eclipse lobby groups trying to set the narrative, and there are thus no well-funded advertising campaigns or scientific studies that aim to raise doubts in our minds or to subtly shape our thinking.

Laws of science

Eclipses are agenda-free. The science—and the resulting extraordinary experience—are left to speak for themselves.

The problem is that we don’t get to pick and choose what scientific facts or consensuses are controversial, and which are not. The same strict laws of science are everywhere.

So if you’re comfortable putting down your non-refundable deposit for your eclipse hotel, if you let a steel tube flying at 30,000 feet carry you to a town under the path of totality, if on the morning of Aug. 21 you check the weather forecast hoping for clear skies, if you pay for breakfast with your credit card, and if that afternoon you snap a picture of the eclipse with your smartphone, then you have staked your bank balance, your August vacation and your very life on the fact that science is testable and reproducible, and that faulty theories can’t withstand extended scrutiny and testing.

Total solar eclipses are a strange cosmic coincidence and a remarkable, awe-inspiring experience. But they are also a profound reminder that when the emotions, money and politics are stripped away, none of us, at our core, are science deniers.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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