How To Generate Scientific Controversy

1. Pick something that is regarded as true by the vast majority of scientists in the field and claim that it causes something bad.

2. Demand that scientists prove a negative by showing that the good thing doesn’t actually have bad results.

3. When people point out that the facts don’t back up your claim, ignore them. As those people get angry and shouty at you, smugly say, “They’re persecuting me! They’re so closed-minded that they won’t let anyone ask questions!” Bonus points for saying that science is now a religion.

4. If more patient scientists perform studies that undermine your claim, or if you manage to get the government to modify the good thing to fix what you were complaining about, move the goalposts!

Let’s see what we can do with this. I know: child safety seats! Properly used, they dramatically decrease kids’ injuries in car wrecks. They’re hella effective. So let’s claim that they really aren’t. In fact, their five-point harness can kill. See, the chest latch rides up and the two shoulder belts tighten until your kid will choke to death.

More rational types may point to reports from the U.S.’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the American Academy of Pediatrics describing how much good child safety seats do. It doesn’t matter! They haven’t checked to see if the shoulder belts could strangle your child, or even chop off their heads.

Once I get a celebrity or two behind my cause, I’ll be able to put others on the defensive. The NHTSA will have to perform tests to try to prove that child safety seats don’t strangle babies or chop off their heads. Their test results will probably show no such problem.

That’s okay. We know the real danger is that the car seats don’t install properly. It was nice of the NHTSA to look into the strap-strangulation problem, but our work is far from done.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go shower.

Update: Since people have asked, I’ve laid out a plan to monetize the controversy.

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