Sep 29, 2005

Science Fiction & Fictional Science: Perfect Together!

Are we enlightened yet?
Wishful thinking makes many people feel good, but when it is applied to serious decision-making then it's a source of trouble if not idiotic behavior. Granted, many among us can't handle the truth, or, they simply don't have the guts to divest themselves from a position that they've maintained throughout their lives. Unless you speak for the devil, you most likely won't have much incentive for repentance. Or, do you? Not, if you don't care about the truth. Although some things are up to interpretation many are not; they're part of reality. You know, like gravity. At least in this case, reality has a way of smacking you hard, thus easily proving the point to those who believe they can fly. But in other instances things aren't so clear--especially when some effort, like thinking, is required!

There is an important trial [read the daily updates here] going on in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the local school board decided to introduce Intelligent Design into the classrooms. This decision is being challenged by parents, teachers, and many others who don't want the imposition of a religious doctrine on the school curricula; a very particular doctrine to be precise. I feel left out since my preferred bias--that the universe created the gods and not the other way around--would not be taught as an ..alternative theory to ID which is proposed as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution! [are you still with me? good!] I'm sure others feel left out too. But, science is something very specific. Same goes for the term "scientific theory"--a set of beliefs based on acquired knowledge, application of reason, verifiable facts, open to review & revision, etc. You get my drift. Divine revelation is taken on faith, cannot be put to the test, nor can it be held to the same standards like those of science. [For more background and views regarding evolution and ID, click here.] Any assertion is not a theory, not in the scientific term!

Obviously those Bible-thumbers of the American Taliban, and the ultra-conservative Republicans, and all intolerant people want to make the rest of us think and behave as they do. Once I thought that if they believed that they were so correct, that God had revealed the only & absolute truth to the select few, and that he had chosen his favorite people, then why should these people go to such extremes as to try conversion even by force? It didn't make any sense to me until I paid closer attention to the statements made by those extremists (a.k.a.Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, et al). God, in their view, does not discriminate when it punishes! He releases his wrath en-mass, not bothering to pick & choose. So, if a godless & hedonistic New York City supports immoral behavior, then collectively it bears the brunt of God's wrath! No matter if you're a pious person , go to church every day, know your Bible upside down, and do whatever is required by your faith, when God punishes the bad people, you are punished too! It's like being caught in "friendly fire!" In other words, there is a perverse belief in collective and indiscriminate punishment. Wow!


The truly amazing thing to me is not that people believe in crazy stuff, but that in the 21st century America there are so many of our fellow citizens who still have no clue about science and the physical world they live in. Worse, not only they don't live in an enlightenment age but they don't want to allow the rest of us (and our children) to have an age of enlightenment! These are the same people who elect morons to high office. Public policy, which affect us all, is a reflection of the quality of the electorate and its representatives. Complaining about the prevailing politics & the shoddy politicians is one thing, but disavowing any responsibility on the other hand is akin to childish behavior. I understand that this view of mine may offend many, but probably they are the same individuals who can't handle the truth. I believe in maximum rights and freedoms as a necessity to leading a fulfilling life, but clearly personal responsibility is an integral part. Education, I find, is extremely helpful too in making informed and engaged citizens.

Just to give you a current example that sums up the points I'm trying to make in this essay. This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by anti-environment champion James Inhofe (R-OK), will hold a hearing to "discuss the role of science in environmental policy making." You'd think that scientists would be invited to offer their opinions, but you'd be wrong. The committee chairman (not the only one) is not interested in the facts, in science, or even in protecting the environment .[Newspeak applied here, like in the "Clean Air Act", "No Child Left Behind", etc. Whereas the used terms mean the complete opposite] Senator Inhofe invited Michael Crichton (fiction writer of Jurassic Park) to testify! Why? Because Crichton's latest book, State of Fear, is more preferable to actual science! Wishful thinking, belief in the unreal & the superstitious, leading an unexamined life, picking ideology over the facts, are a valuable currency in Washington DC today, and, sadly, among many Americans.

Michael Drake--the fictional character in State of Fear-- has his science wrong, but, heck, if Mr. Crichton makes him a scientist with a certain agenda liked by the Republicans, why not bring this expertise onto the table to help create environmental policy for America? Why not indeed?

For a critical evaluation of the distorted science in State of Fear, read this review.

10 comments:

Percy said...

And, who is against education? Those who want morons as citizens! Like Carl Sagan said, ignorant people are easy prey to any charlattan that comes along....

Drake, CT said...

I too had trouble understanding why some people want to force me to salvation.... No one had explained this to me. I see what you're saying... If,as they believe, God punishes the community for the sins of some members, then their asses is on the line... Absurd, but it makes sense from their perverse point of view.
Great site.

Anonymous said...

How can you be so absolutely sure that God hasn't revealed his wishes? So many people can't be wrong!

Anonymous said...

Politics can never be totally rational because people are not rational...

Beannie said...

People like to believe in stuff that makes them feel good! Is that so wrong? OK, there has to be some relationship with reality... And, it's nice when you don't have to spend so much time & effort to investigate all aspects of public policy... leave it to the experts! WHen they screw up, we complain, and sometimes we elect somebody else.

I believe that the Red Sox are going to win another World Series this year. I'm betting everything I have on them.

Mothra Slayer said...

I don't worry about the environment. GODzilla will emerge when our failed environmental policies poison the earth and create toxic monsters.... Godzilla will fix things up! Just don't get caught in friendly fire!

Anderson said...

What makes you think that these people (including the ones on the Board of Education) really understand what science is all about?

Geeshus from NY (godless & hedonistic heaven) said...

What's more American than living beyond one's means, largely indifferent except one's own affairs (unless there is a juicy gossip about sex), ignorant of American history (anything older than 25 years), poltically irresponsible and apathetic, and full of complaints about things screwed up!....

This country is moving towards progress with the speed of molaces!

Daedalus said...

I'm hoping we can get Tom Clancy as the head of Volkland Security. Oh, and since Ben Stein (R-CA) played a teacher on a number of occasions, he should be Secretary of Education. And how about Ted Nugent as Secretary of the Interior, since he likes to kill and eat nature!

Beannie, I have to agree with you. The Sox are my #4 team, and the first three have been eliminated (two in the last week- at least they made it this far.) Go Sox!

Andros said...

Yeah, I have to agree about the ..Sox! They're my second favorite team.... as a fan of the perennial losers, the Mets I have to root for the Sox to beat the Yanks.

As for the political stuff, the Repubs could use some fictional characters....their stars are being red-carded: Tom Delay, Frist, Rove, etc. Did you hear that Scooter Libby (Dick's Chief of Staff) was likely the Plame source to Miller? It gets juicier....