Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When Did It Become Okay to be Ignorant?

"We're living in an age of polarization."

I think the problem isn't that we live in an age of polarization but that we live in an age where ignorance is celebrated. Our children are watching Reality Television where the lowest examples of humanity are celebrated as our highest and loftiest.

We've gone from shouting to the heavens that we will go there and do things that will seem like magic to our fathers and grandfathers to a world where we have people elected to our highest offices proclaiming that the world is 6,000 years old. We have Chinese documents that are that old and cave paintings that are 30,000 years old. We can verifiably test out how old the earth is and these people glorify themselves in their ignorance by claiming that "it's only a theory."

Gravity is a theory, arguing that the earth is 6,000 years old is a god-damned fantasy. 

The days where it was okay to pretend that the solar system moved about the earth and that science was a bad word are over. We have to believe in science and we have to understand it. If we don't we'll lose it all. 

So here's what I'm saying: fucking learn. Learn every day. Read things that challenge you and be more than you've ever been before. The days where laying down and saying that god precludes science from your life are over.


11 comments:

  1. American culture has always displayed a populist anti-intellectual "I ain't much for book learnin' " steam of thought. Modern Media has just intensified it, and made it seem all pervasive, which I do not believe it really is. At least I hope not.

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    1. Horse shit.

      America has a long standing tradition of learning and higher thought. We've prided ourselves over the past two centuries of leading the the world intellectually and morally (even when both have been over inflated in our own minds). It's only the wastrels and scoundrels who have slurred "I ain't much for book learnin'" and they have been vilified in popular culture until the last thirty years when we started looking at Regan like he was the second coming and MTV told us the best thing you could be is famous.

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    2. Horse shit right back at you. I point to the folksy careers of Mark Twain and Will Rogers, and the good-ol-boy careers of generations of southern politicians. I reference "Anti-intellectualism in American Life" a book by Richard Hofstadter published in the 1960s (well before President Reagan and MTV). And lets not forgot the common Western trope of the dandified Easterner vs the Trail Savvy Cowboy.

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    3. Mark Twain is not folksy. Mark Twain is singularly the greatest American author. His books range from small town adventures, like Tom Sawyer, to amazing polemics against slavery (Huckfinn), to proselytizing of the American way of life (A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court). He's written as many books that have stood the test of time as Dickens. You can call him many things, but folksy isn't one of them.

      As for Will Rogers, he made a career out of speaking against power through humor. The man was the John Stewart of his age; and just like his later day counterpart Will Rodgers made his living out of skewering corrupt and inept politicians. He was a brilliant man who, in spite of not attaining a higher education, was able to change American politics and policy. Folksy he was, but ignorant absolutely not.

      " I reference "Anti-intellectualism in American Life" a book by Richard Hofstadter published in the 1960s"

      Haven't read it yet. Is it a good read?

      "lets not forgot the common Western trope of the dandified Easterner vs the Trail Savvy Cowboy."

      That's not a maligning of intelligence. The whole trope is about people refusing to acknowledge the wisdom of the common man by comparison to the book-learned intellectual - a common theme throughout all of American history.

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  2. Not to mention the failure of basic education to differentiate between a scientific Theory (like gravity) and a general "theory" (as in "I have a theory as to how Game of Thrones will end").

    But, there has always been a divide between pre-millennial religious belief in America, and post-millennial belief. One maintains that Christ will arrive at any moment and usher in a 1,000 Kingdom of God, while the later maintains that first we humans must create the Kingdom before he arrives. To many of the pre-millennial believers, not only is science and progress pointless, but it's actually an affront to God.

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    1. That's really quite an elegant way to describe the situation.

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  3. Folks that think the earth is only 6,000 years old, or the dinosaurs didn't get seats on Noah's ark dismissing scientfic answers as just another matter of belief they can choose seldom have difficulty watching t.v.,driving over a suspension bridge, or making a phone call. Somehow they don't understand: all that is science too and they don't have to "believe" in them at all for them to be there and work.

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  4. That 6000 year old stuff is a perfect example of a straw man argument.

    A very tiny amount of people believe it, yet somehow all Christians (but never Muslims or other religions) are tarred with it and called ignorant.

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    1. Jeremy -- maybe. In my country (the US) there was a poll (run by Gallup, a respected polling firm) that found that about half of Americans believe God created humans in in the last 10000 years. Some portion of them believe the earth is older, and even that animals evolved. So yeah, "young earth creationists" may number fewer, but that's 1/2 of Americans who are ignorant about biology, and in many cases willfully so.
      (I didn't see anything in the OP pointing the finger just at Christians. But I just don't hear Buddhists or Sikhs saying that man lived alongside dinosaurs, or that fossil evidence is just a test, or all that other crazy we get from Creationists. But if you point is that all religions should be called ignorant, I can't disagree with you. :) )

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    2. Jeremy, mikemonaco is preaching truth to you right now.

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