Monday, April 2, 2012
Across The Great Divide
I've read polls that indicate that 40% of Americans don't believe in evolution. Whenever I encounter one of these folks, they claim there is not enough evidence to convince them. yet they are always convinced an invisible man who lives in the clouds created all life...with not so much as a shred of evidence. They also have a very simplistic and inaccurate understanding of evolution... "man came from monkeys" (as opposed primates having common ancestry for instance). They seem to believe whatever they choose regardless of facts, probability, or observable evidence conflicting with those views.
Before someone with a differing view rightfully objects to simply taking my word for the legitimacy of the theory of evolution lets look at the facts. Evolutionary theory is the idea that life has existed for billions of years and has changed over time. Overwhelming evidence supports this fact. Scientists continue to argue about some details of evolution, but the question of whether life has a long history or not was answered in the affirmative at least two centuries ago. This tends to be the case in science, as we'd not bother to continue asking questions if we knew all there was to know and unlike ideologues, a scientist must adjust his thesis based on new evidence. The dwarf planet Pluto was discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh. His discovery tweaked our understanding of the solar system we live in, yet it certainly did not lead anyone to question the notion of heliocentrism. In 2005, when aside from it's large moon Charon, it was observed that Pluto also has 2 smaller moons, this did not suggest that a return to the Ptolemaic system of Earth being the center of the Universe was in order. At any rate, the history of living things is documented through multiple lines of evidence that converge to tell the story of life through time. There is the fossil record, homologies, the distribution of evidence in time and space, and evidence by example. Natural selection can be observed for instance in bacteria treated with antibiotics, the survivors reproduce and become a drug resistant strain.
But the rejection of evolution is but one facet of the Great Divide which I refer to, this divide is between those who have an overall disdain of reason, science, logic, conscience, and the notion of self governing democracy and those who think these things are pretty good ideas.
I'm not sure what the solution is, but there is little point of conversing with someone who believes scientists routinely lie because they have some political agenda. Okay, I'll buy that there has always been a contingent of idiots at play in every civilization, but it may be a unique situation since the advent of democracy to have such a vast network of political machinery dedicated to institutionalizing & empowering utter idiocy. Once a person abandons reason, conscience dissipates as well. This creates a state of deference, a willingness on the part of people to accept being the bottom of some imaginary hierarchy constructed by those who would place themselves at the top. I think this is why we see this great divide. Dumb people are easier to fleece and be lead than any person who might ask questions. A nation of ignoramuses will believe anything they are told, their deference yields decisions to a higher power - some group of people who have constituted themselves as some type of aristocracy. The divide between this group and those who embrace reason as well as democracy (the notion that we are of equal value in terms of governing ourselves) has been growing. With so many of the people crossing the line and entering cloud cuckoo land, I am at a loss as to how the situation can be improved. Education? Not all that likely if one rejects and despises reason itself.
Examples of Idiocy-
Denial of relativity ...yes you have to see this crap
Author Chris Moony discusses science denial.