What Would Isaac Asimov Say About The Current Climate of Science Denial?
The late author and professor famously dissected the falsely perceived equivalency between ignorance and knowledge in a 1980 Newsweek piece titled "A Cult of Ignorance." One wonders what Asimov would say about the current conflict between science and opinion.
There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. 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.'” -Isaac Asimov, "A Cult of Ignorance", Newsweek, January 21 1980
What's the Latest?
In his article "Science Is Not Democratic," currently featured on the Forbes website, geologist James Conca decries society's ignorant politicization of science and demonizes influential figures who promote an active distrust of the scientific community. Opposing scientific findings is dangerous, Conca explains. Doing so hurts business and stifles progress:
"No one expects the public to be experts or to recognize important scientific results. But we do expect that when important scientific results occur, they are implemented and used for the betterment of America and the world."
What's the Big Idea?
As I sift through Conca's points, I can't help but think of the late author and professor Isaac Asimov, who decades earlier castigated the American "cult of ignorance" and belief in "the relativity of wrong." Conca's apt dismissal of climate change conspiracy theorists evokes the frustrated feeling of Asimov's like-minded contentions. There are those who falsely perceive an equivalency between the findings of science and their own uninformed opinions. This is not, as Conca notes, the purpose of democracy; it's a bastardization of democracy.
"Science isn’t a belief system. It’s proven knowledge. It either knows the answer to a problem, or admits it doesn’t and keeps looking for it."
Perhaps the anti-science milieu regards the above-admission -- that science doesn't always have the answer -- as a sort of weakness. To do so is to completely miss the point, but that's not nothing new for science-deniers.
Read Conca's entire article at Forbes and keep ol' Isaac's words in mind when you do:
"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death."
Photo credit: Sampien / Shutterstock
VR's coolest feature? Boosting compassion and empathy.
- Virtual reality fills us with awe and adrenaline — and the technology is only at a crude stage, explains VR filmmaker Danfung Dennis. It's capable of inspiring something much greater in us: empathy.
- With coming technological advancements in pixel display, haptics, and sound tracking, VR users will finally be able to know what it's like to really take another person's perspective. Empathy is inherent in humans (and other animal species), but just as it can be squashed, it must be practiced in order to develop.
- "This ability to improve ourselves to become a more empathetic and compassionate society is what I hope we will use this technology for," Dennis says.
We have to practice doing nothing more often.
- Constantly being busy is neurologically taxing and emotionally draining.
- In his new book, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes that you're doing a disservice to others by always being busy.
- Busyness is often an excuse for the discomfort of being alone with your own thoughts.
That's a sharp increase from the 1960s when it took the same share of scientists an average of 35 years to drop out of academia.
- The study tracked the careers of more than 100,000 scientists over 50 years.
- The results showed career lifespans are shrinking, and fewer scientists are getting credited as the lead author on scientific papers.
- Scientists are still pursuing careers in the private sector, however there are key differences between research conducted in academia and industry.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.