Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Hey Indeedy

I heard Isaac Asimov speak at my college in the mid-1970s, and he was astonishingly prescient. Here is something he wrote in 1980:

It’s hard to quarrel with that ancient justification of the free press: “America’s right to know.” It seems almost cruel to ask, ingenuously, ”America’s right to know what, please? Science? Mathematics? Economics? Foreign languages?”
None of those things, of course. In fact, one might well suppose that the popular feeling is that Americans are a lot better off without any of that tripe.
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
It's gotten much worse since then of course. Now we have an entire political party and conservative movement that is nothing more than a cult of ignorance. As Paul Krugman puts it:

Why are there so few conservative scientists? It might be because academics, as a career, appeals more to liberals than to conservatives. (There aren’t a lot of liberals in police departments — or, contra Trump, the F.B.I.) Alternatively, scientists may be reluctant to call themselves conservatives because in modern America being a conservative means aligning yourself with a faction that by and large rejects climate science and the theory of evolution. Might not similar considerations apply to historians?
But more to the point, conservative claims to be defending free speech and open discussion aren’t sincere. Conservatives don’t want to see ideas evaluated on their merits, regardless of politics; they want ideas convenient to their side to receive (at least) equal time regardless of their intellectual quality.
We find ourselves constantly forced to debate, not about ideas and values and goals, and respectable analytical differences, but about the very bedrock of reality. We are forced to defend what are unassailable truth claims against people who are willfully ignorant. It is indeed tiresome.


Don Quixote said...

It is indeed tiresome. But what will wake up some people is their own self-interest, as they see themselves being betrayed by so-called conservatives who, to quote Krugman,
"claim to be defending free speech and open discussion" but "aren’t sincere." Actually, they are duplicitous liars, interested only in power and incumbency. The word "conservative" used to have a real meaning, but the right itself has bastardized language in the name of false crusades designed to pander to their supporter--whom they intend to screw--and entrench their power. Power is all, hence McConnell's "pride" in squelching Merrick Garland's nomination. And, as Krugman has also noted, the right/Republicans in Congress will try to boldly kill Affordable Care before they are voted out of power entirely. They're not even pretending anymore to give a shit about any Americans!

Anonymous said...

Why are there so few conservative scientists?

Scientists want more funding.

Science is funded mostly through big government.

Why would anyone expect the scientific community to be conservative??

Don Quixote said...

"Anonymous" (above) starts out with--as usual--a totally specious premise, and arrives at a totally invalid conclusion.

What a hopeless dork. But by all means, keep leaving tiresome, pointless posts.

Don Quixote said...

FACTS ARE NOT A MATTER OF OPINION. If you say to a self-styled modern American or British "conservative": "The truth is not a matter of opinion," they bristle. WHOSE truth? MY truth? YOUR truth? Hence, the treading ground of slime like Alex Jones.

The far right has bastardized language in order to weaponize it. "Pro-Life" means nothing of the sort; it means, "Pro-Birth" (and "Anti-Woman").

So: Facts are NOT a matter of opinion. They are NOT subject to debate.