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America, The Ignorant

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skews13   
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Asimov was born in Russia in 1920 (d. 1992), immigrated to the US, and became a professor of biochemistry. He was a prolific sci fi and science writer.

I wish I could say that I was surprised about the recent survey about the Republican view of universities. I would submit to you that America has never embraced structured education and scientific discovery as an end in itself — not ever.

It was never a facet of personal development essential for social status or prestige, and it was never an American value.

 

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.'”

 

— I. Asimov Newsweek(1980), “A Cult of Ignorance.”

In one way this reflects our greatest strength — or at least, the principles we were founded on.

You could come to America with forty cents in your pocket, in rags, off the boat, have nothing, and make something of yourself. It was a step away from the caste system and class-locking that happened across the pond and in Eastern Europe. Being self-taught and good at your particular trade was valued. No genetic lottery in the form of aristocracy’s benefits needed for the vast majority of Americans.

So America has never valued science and liberal arts as ends in themselves, and in fact they are somewhat reminiscent of Europe, and geez, we don’t like Europe, dontcha know. It’s like the essence of the Enlightenment missed us.

I believe the ONLY reason we had a burst of technology and enlightenment in the last several decades was because we had a competitor and an enemy — first the Nazis, and then the USSR. Without an enemy we don’t bother to pursue scientific advancement. But give us an enemy and that’s where we really shine.

This kind of approach to science and critical thinking can’t continue. In an article in Science, professor Jon Miller writes about the poor acceptance of evolution in the United States and attributes it to Fundamentalism and the politicization of science.

This article was written in 2007 and the lack of enthusiasm for non-sectarian learning has only gotten worse. Arguments about health (especially POCs’ and women’s) are routinely politicized and scientifically based arguments do not move the needle on people’s beliefs because they are coming from “elitists” and non-Biblical types.

The problem now is that the world is becoming progressively more interconnected, dependent on technology, and complex. Critical thinking about global issues is now no longer an optional skill.

You used to be able to be a robber baron and uneducated (Rockefeller) or a industrial pioneer with no education, absolutely no culture and flaming anti-Semitism (like Ford) and do really well for yourself. These were “Real Americans” and are examples of why lots of current real Americans feel that they are ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’ and there isn’t any need for any elitist claptrap.

Now one needs to navigate fake news, propaganda streaming at you at a firehose rate, bots, scientific principles vs pseudoscience, health data, and many other situations in which one needs to understand spin vs. objective reality.

Need evidence that we need to be at war (cold or hot) to innovate? Look how little we care about climate change.

There’s no competition to be had in attempting to attack the threat on a global level; there’s only cooperation. We don’t know how to cooperate, only compete. I suppose you can argue that it’s capitalism woven into our DNA. But for whatever reason, science and liberal arts have no value overall unless it’s getting us something...monetary.

And with the attempt to bring us back to the Gilded Age is the view of science and people who practice it as witches...or at least in this case genuinely untrustworthy elitists who don’t understand ‘real America.’

In a data set I processed as part of graduate study, there was a question that examined people’s perceptions of scientists. Nearly 75% of those asked answered the following question in the “Agree or Strongly Agree” category: “Scientists have knowledge that makes them dangerous.”

International cooperation on global issues of climate, health inequity, and economics is the way of the future. I am not sure we can uproot ourselves from our base of competitiveness, laissez-faire capitalism, and Puritan roots to get with the new program, even if it means international isolation and our ultimate destruction:

I wish that I could say I was optimistic about the human race. I love us all, but we are so stupid and shortsighted that I wonder if we can lift our eyes to the world about us long enough not to commit suicide. — I. Asimov


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bludog   

The article is just as germane today as it was when it was written. The Cult Of Ignorance is still with us, and just as strong. Laissez-Faire Capitalism and infinite tolerance of wealth-gathering, for its own sake, long after it has served any practical purpose.

 

Asimov is on point about the extreme competitiveness of the American people. Taken as a whole, we do not seem to even be able to conceive that all levels of society should cooperate with each other. We appear to comprehend our common interests only as a kind of sport or war, in which there are winners and losers, but nothing in-between. Unless this changes, it truly is cause for pessimism about our National future.

 

I was a big fan of Asimov, having read many of his science-explanation books and nearly all his fiction.

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Middl3   

Reality TV is played heavily on American TVs. Most are who is the greatest, the bestest, the smartest..over 5 year old :huh: and the list goes on. Not to mention housewives and so many other crap shows. This crap is pumped into the American brain daily. Our future is being raised on it.

 

Then a man like Trump becomes POTUS..we have a long haul back to the top I fear.

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Hex2   

 

16667.jpg?1499784977
Asimov was born in Russia in 1920 (d. 1992), immigrated to the US, and became a professor of biochemistry. He was a prolific sci fi and science writer.

I wish I could say that I was surprised about the recent survey about the Republican view of universities. I would submit to you that America has never embraced structured education and scientific discovery as an end in itself — not ever.

It was never a facet of personal development essential for social status or prestige, and it was never an American value.

 

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.'”

 

— I. Asimov Newsweek(1980), “A Cult of Ignorance.”

In one way this reflects our greatest strength — or at least, the principles we were founded on.

You could come to America with forty cents in your pocket, in rags, off the boat, have nothing, and make something of yourself. It was a step away from the caste system and class-locking that happened across the pond and in Eastern Europe. Being self-taught and good at your particular trade was valued. No genetic lottery in the form of aristocracy’s benefits needed for the vast majority of Americans.

So America has never valued science and liberal arts as ends in themselves, and in fact they are somewhat reminiscent of Europe, and geez, we don’t like Europe, dontcha know. It’s like the essence of the Enlightenment missed us.

I believe the ONLY reason we had a burst of technology and enlightenment in the last several decades was because we had a competitor and an enemy — first the Nazis, and then the USSR. Without an enemy we don’t bother to pursue scientific advancement. But give us an enemy and that’s where we really shine.

This kind of approach to science and critical thinking can’t continue. In an article in Science, professor Jon Miller writes about the poor acceptance of evolution in the United States and attributes it to Fundamentalism and the politicization of science.

This article was written in 2007 and the lack of enthusiasm for non-sectarian learning has only gotten worse. Arguments about health (especially POCs’ and women’s) are routinely politicized and scientifically based arguments do not move the needle on people’s beliefs because they are coming from “elitists” and non-Biblical types.

The problem now is that the world is becoming progressively more interconnected, dependent on technology, and complex. Critical thinking about global issues is now no longer an optional skill.

You used to be able to be a robber baron and uneducated (Rockefeller) or a industrial pioneer with no education, absolutely no culture and flaming anti-Semitism (like Ford) and do really well for yourself. These were “Real Americans” and are examples of why lots of current real Americans feel that they are ‘temporarily embarrassed millionaires’ and there isn’t any need for any elitist claptrap.

Now one needs to navigate fake news, propaganda streaming at you at a firehose rate, bots, scientific principles vs pseudoscience, health data, and many other situations in which one needs to understand spin vs. objective reality.

Need evidence that we need to be at war (cold or hot) to innovate? Look how little we care about climate change.

There’s no competition to be had in attempting to attack the threat on a global level; there’s only cooperation. We don’t know how to cooperate, only compete. I suppose you can argue that it’s capitalism woven into our DNA. But for whatever reason, science and liberal arts have no value overall unless it’s getting us something...monetary.

And with the attempt to bring us back to the Gilded Age is the view of science and people who practice it as witches...or at least in this case genuinely untrustworthy elitists who don’t understand ‘real America.’

In a data set I processed as part of graduate study, there was a question that examined people’s perceptions of scientists. Nearly 75% of those asked answered the following question in the “Agree or Strongly Agree” category: “Scientists have knowledge that makes them dangerous.”

International cooperation on global issues of climate, health inequity, and economics is the way of the future. I am not sure we can uproot ourselves from our base of competitiveness, laissez-faire capitalism, and Puritan roots to get with the new program, even if it means international isolation and our ultimate destruction:

I wish that I could say I was optimistic about the human race. I love us all, but we are so stupid and shortsighted that I wonder if we can lift our eyes to the world about us long enough not to commit suicide. — I. Asimov

 

 

Stunning article.

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laripu   

The thing about real science and engineering is: it works.

 

The fake stuff doesn't.

 

So if a country (like the USA) wants a modern advanced military, then it needs real science and engineering.

 

So anti-intellectualism had its limits.

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Drifter   

The thing about real science and engineering is: it works.

 

The fake stuff doesn't.

 

So if a country (like the USA) wants a modern advanced military, then it needs real science and engineering.

 

So anti-intellectualism had its limits.

 

Preservation of the Cult Of Ignorance has been extremely useful, politically. Members of the cult take for granted, the technological benefits of real science and technology. They ridicule science yet embrace its fruits without recognizing the the contradiction. They have performed the mental somersault so many times it has become second nature. Most of the time, scientists, engineers or artists do not come from this group.

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laripu   

Preservation of the Cult Of Ignorance has been extremely useful, politically. Members of the cult take for granted, the technological benefits of real science and technology. They ridicule science yet embrace its fruits without recognizing the the contradiction. They have performed the mental somersault so many times it has become second nature. Most of the time, scientists, engineers or artists do not come from this group.

If a modern society wants to prevent and/or contain bio-terrorist attacks, they'd better not alienate biologists.

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Drifter   

If a modern society wants to prevent and/or contain bio-terrorist attacks, they'd better not alienate biologists.

 

The Cult, at the same time as it ridicules uppity know-it-alls, takes for granted that all scientists, including biologists, will not stop working to keep them safe and secure. And they are probably correct. Committed ignoramuses, as much political damage as they have done, are a minority in society.

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Middl3   

A modern society..which we are unbecoming, learns and applies science to help society and the lands in which we live. In America for the last several decades all we seem to invest in is weapons and destruction. :(

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Renegade   

Everyone loves science...until it disproves a core belief. Just consider two topics... global warming and genetically modified food. It's a rare day when I find someone who agrees with the scientists on both subjects.

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bludog   

Everyone loves science...

 

Within the Cult Of Ignorance, science is not loved. It is mocked and held up for ridicule.

 

Can the Republican Party solve its science denial problem? | Dana ...
https://www.theguardian.com › Environment › Climate change scepticism

Apr 28, 2016 - Free-market worldviews are an important predictor of the rejection of scientific findings that have potential regulatory implications, such as ...

 

 

.until it disproves a core belief. Just consider two topics... global warming and genetically modified food. It's a rare day when I find someone who agrees with the scientists on both subjects.

 

There is a difference between interpreting broad findings to fit one's own biases and actively holding science in contempt.

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Renegade   

I don't know a single person "actively holding science in contempt".  They all say science (in general) is great.  It's just wrong on particular issues.  Conservatives love their science when it's making drugs, building weapons, replacing workers, etc.  It's only when it gets in the way of what they want to do that they start to reject it.  The quote above says that they reject "scientific findings that have potential regulatory implications".  They don't reject all science...just the part that's inconvenient.  They don't want the regulation so they try to discredit the science that supports it.  It's a self-serving bias, not a rejection of all science.

Liberals are generally more pro-science, but still not immune to bias.  Liberals, who normally love science, are just as reluctant to eat genetically modified food as ignorant, science-hating conservatives.   Never mind how many starving people could be fed.  Never mind that we could use less water and pesticides.   Suddenly, feeding poor people and saving the environment isn't that important if it means they might have to eat genetically modified vegetables and they don't care how many scientists say it's perfectly safe.

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bludog   

Maybe you don't know many Fundamentalist Christians on the Religious Right?

The vast majority of scientists in fields related to Earth Science agree that the Earth is warming either wholly or partly due to human activities.  Similarly, there is general agreement that genetically modified foods (seeds) have been mostly beneficial, usually with very little downside.

True, many laymen, on both sides of the aisle, have their own interpretations  But there is a particular group that chooses to enjoy the fruits of advancing technology while mocking those that made it possible.

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1 hour ago, bludog said:

Maybe you don't know many Fundamentalist Christians on the Religious Right?

The vast majority of scientists in fields related to Earth Science agree that the Earth is warming either wholly or partly due to human activities.  Similarly, there is general agreement that genetically modified foods (seeds) have been mostly beneficial, usually with very little downside.

True, many laymen, on both sides of the aisle, have their own interpretations  But there is a particular group that chooses to enjoy the fruits of advancing technology while mocking those that made it possible.

I believe that the evidence is too much at this point to even listen to people on the right on Global Warming, I mean come on 97% of the World''s Scientists think that global warming is happening right now at this moment. Our everyday lives are being changed by the effects and these numnuts don't want to believe in it Because Trump said that it's a conspiracy made by the Chinese:rolleyes:

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Renegade   
21 hours ago, bludog said:

Maybe you don't know many Fundamentalist Christians on the Religious Right?

The vast majority of scientists in fields related to Earth Science agree that the Earth is warming either wholly or partly due to human activities.  Similarly, there is general agreement that genetically modified foods (seeds) have been mostly beneficial, usually with very little downside.

True, many laymen, on both sides of the aisle, have their own interpretations  But there is a particular group that chooses to enjoy the fruits of advancing technology while mocking those that made it possible.

You are correct, I don't think I know any fundamentalists these days.  I have a few conservative friends, but I can't say I have any who are openly religious.   One of my best friends from college got religion a few years ago.  We don't talk anymore (which is it's own sad story).

Long ago, I spent many Sundays in a small town church, until I moved out on my own.  I don't recall any hostility toward science.  There were some who thought the world was a few thousand years old, but the prevailing opinion was that the age of the Earth was immaterial.  No one believed that evolution could explain the more complex biological systems, but even if it could, there was always the possibility of 'intelligent design'.  Even in that very conservative church, scientists were held in high regard.  

Do you personally know people who are anti-science?  I don't mean on a set of issues, but science in general.  You say they enjoy the fruits while mocking those who made it possible...you know people like that?  I should get out and meet more people.

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Middl3   

My good friend denies Climate science. I have a couple of years on her as a point of reference. She also had Palin as her hero. :mellow:

 

Now she says climate science is BS. She claims it is our excuse to regulate business owners. Where does she get this nonsense? In her truck running between jobs..all right wing nutz crap. She listens to Dennis Prager in her shop. Trying to talk to her about it and she simply gets spiting mad and shuts down no matter who or how it is approached.

 

She is not a deep thinker..Hell or even a shallow thinker but she swallows all they rant on about and swears it is the Gospel. She also is involved in her  church because they were nice to her when her hubby died. Now she is buying her stairway to heaven with her 25% a week donation.

 

God and science does not mix. Funny part is we are in Florida and weather science is super important..that she believes, but only until the storms pass. It is totally upside down.

 

There IS a pattern to this.

 

And yes talk to anyone and everyone..listen and discuss. No one it totally correct and no one is totally wrong..the truth is usually in the middle somewhere.

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bludog   
27 minutes ago, Renegade said:

Do you personally know people who are anti-science?  I don't mean on a set of issues, but science in general.  You say they enjoy the fruits while mocking those who made it possible...you know people like that?  I should get out and meet more people.

I live in a very Conservative area with many religious extremists.  I personally keep away from these types, but I have heard that kind of talk, mainly in the dog park which my dog Iggy takes me to every day:).   Their conversations are loud, vehement and hateful.  I always stay at a distance and act as if I don't hear it.   If I have to talk to these people, I am extremely careful to avoid touchy subjects.  I am no longer young and far less willing to get into a confrontation than I used to be.  Neither would I choose to get into a situation where I might have to shoot somebody or get shot.

When these people are in the park with only a few others, they don't bother to hide their views.  The things they say often echo a lot of the worst stuff on NHB.  Sometimes even worse,  when it comes to science denial.    When the park fills up more, the topic at that table turns to other things.

I think people like that are in the minority here.  I have no trouble finding  company of people of good will.  Many Conservatives are nice people ...  But usually it's better not to get into politics with them.  I have also met Liberals here with whom I can openly discuss things.

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whether or not I think it, Asimov was a genius. 

there's an interesting flare/ and not flair in what he writes here. I suppose we came upon many good things by pure luck and happenstance. 

But we're not all us. We're not all there.

Many don't know where they are, nor what for or why, nor do they seem to care. 

 

Peace! 

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