1 February 2006

America, idiot

Pharyngula discusses at length an article from Esquire called Greetings from Idiot America [ subscription, free version here ]. A quote from the article:

On August 21, a newspaper account of the "intelligent design" movement contained this remarkable sentence: "They have mounted a politically savvy challenge to evolution as the bedrock of modern biology, propelling a fringe academic movement onto the front pages and putting Darwin's defenders firmly on the defensive."

A "politically savvy challenge to evolution" is as self-evidently ridiculous as an agriculturally savvy challenge to euclidean geometry would be. ...

It's a detailed redefinition of the anti-intellectualism that I rant against, and that they point out was deftly covered by Richard Hofstadter in his book from 1963 Anti-Intellectualism in American Life. People have moved from hating expertise to believing that intuition is on equal footing with it. Intuition in the thought process is valuable in order to arrive at unique solutions; it's meaningless--or at least only personally relevant--if not subsequently vetted by knowledge and expertise.

And since I feel like I bitch too much, I'll quote the end of the Pharyngula article:

You would be surprised at how much email is sent to me telling me to stop being so derisive, that harsh language and ridicule turn people off and repel the very ones we're trying to persuade. My reply is like the one above; by refusing to ridicule the ridiculous, by watering down every criticism into a mannered circumlocution, we have created an environment where idiots thrive unchallenged. We have a twit for a president because so many people made apologies for his ludicrous lack of qualifications—we need more people unabashedly pointing out fools.
[ posted by sstrader on 1 February 2006 at 8:09:52 AM in Science & Technology ]