Saturday, June 14, 2014

Inexcusable Ignorance

You might think that public figures, especially those who believe they might run for President, should acquaint themselves with the facts before pontificating on important topics. It is obvious they do not. Take the recent case of Marco Rubio, for example, who announced publicly that he does not believe global warming has anything to do with human activity in spite of what the scientists say. The facts of global warming are well known and easily available by now, fully 97% of the world’s scientists agree on the matter, the evidence is also all around us at the moment. Still Rubio doesn’t believe it. I suppose Rubio has a right to believe any nonsensical thing he wants, but he should not be permitted to run for any important or influential office, especially President, as his opinion on this matter will get us all killed. It could be the case that Rubio actually has considered the facts, either researched them himself or had his aides do it (which I very much doubt) and still concludes he doesn’t believe it. He still doesn’t believe it because he doesn’t trust or believe in science. If this is truly the case he has no business in any position of influence, authority, or power.

Rick Perry is a similar case in point. He recently indicated that homosexuality was more or less a choice and that it might be cured. That homosexuality is not a matter of choice but a matter of genetics is by now well established. Perry, like Rubio, fancies himself Presidential, but has obviously not bothered to study the facts about something he claims is so. Again, the facts are easily available. Perry and Rubio can both be said to be inexcusably ignorant. Even worse they seem to be willfully ignorant. Such individuals have no business in government, assuming that government is supposed to further and protect both individual and national interests. It is absolutely inconceivable to me that anyone who professes not to believe in science could be elected President in the 21st century.

How is it that this kind of anti-science inexcusable ignorance is even tolerated in a world fraught with such dangers and so dependent upon rapidly changing technologies and information? Magic, myth, and fairy tales are not sufficient for dealing with the real and contemporary world. I suggest this kind of inexcusable ignorance is tolerated in the United States because, in fact, people like Rubio and Perry do not exist in a vacuum, they are merely swimmers in a veritable ocean of inexcusable ignorance. The ocean of ignorance we currently must swim in has come about slowly over the past couple of decades. It can be seen in the deplorable nature of our public schools, the low status and salaries of teachers, the privatization of schools, the efforts of Christian fundamentalists, and the general ethos of anti-intellectualism that has characterized our culture for some time. We hear of “pointy-headed intellectuals,” the derogation of teachers (“them as can’t do, teach”), budget cuts at all levels, and the conversion of our Universities and Colleges into, basically, trade schools. The idea of education or knowledge for its own sake has long since disappeared. The United States, which used to lead the world in most everything, has slipped badly when compared to many other countries. We appear to lead only in the category of military spending.

I do not believe this tragic situation came about by accident. Although I am not much of a conspiracy theorist I think in the case of this blanket of inexcusable ignorance there has been a conspiracy of sorts. Those in power have deliberately “dumbed us down,” so to speak. They have taken over the news and turned it into “infotainment,” have refused to adequately fund our schools at all levels, have resisted all attempts to help people with education and have, in fact, made University attendance virtually unaffordable, preferring instead to make a profit from our students and schools. This is shameful. The result of their actions over time have brought us to the point they apparently wished to achieve, a class society in which there are only two classes, the obscenely wealthy (“aristocrats”) and the poor (“peasants”). The peasants, being ignorant, are easily controlled and exploited and less likely to revolt (revolutions usually begin with intellectuals). This system of ignorance may be inexcusable but it is not difficult to understand. It keeps the poor “in line,” insures low wages, and glorifies exploitation. It also allows inexcusably ignorant individuals to attain high public offices.

Does anyone even care anymore who becomes President? The powers that be don’t care because they choose the only candidates and know they will control him or her in any case. The voting public may think they care but their only choice nowadays is between the ignorant and the idiotic. Wall Street always wins.

“Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” 

 Herbert Marcuse

1 comment:

ModerĂ¡tor rĂ©rum said...

The fact that you were a professor of anthropology indicates you probably understand no more about the empirical sciences and the statistical disciplines that are supposed to be the underpinnings of climatology (not an empirical science, by the way) than those public figures you are deriding. While I don't disagree that the standards of scholarship in the modern era are deplorable, I suspect my reasons for believing so are profoundly different from yours. In any case, an individual's rejection of the "Science and Scientists say so" argument put forth as the most frequent vindication of the truth of anthropogenic global warming is hardly indicative of ignorance. On the contrary, those who use that argument are often the most academically intellectually inadequate themselves to judge the state of the facts. I hold degrees in chemistry, physics, and classical languages – and am also not prone to conspiracy theories – but those of us who understand what the true nature of science should be (not socially or politically, but historically and philosophically) have to wonder how much conscious volition among participants constitutes “conspiracy” when we see the slipshod and (to use the vernacular) “piss-poor” brand of science behind the current mania regarding “climate change” (a pleonastic and meaningless phrase, by the way).