One of the greatest problems with our modern world (in my opinion) is public ignorance. It’s not just religion. It’s not just creationism. It’s not just anti-vaxxers and anti-GMOs and anti-science congressmen. It’s all of them.
It’s a constant battle just to get concepts of how science works into the minds of people who have never taken a real science class. No, freshman biology in college doesn’t count. That’s a class of facts, not how to do science or how science works. I would much rather require science for non-science majors classes to be a class in scientific methodology and a class in research and rigor instead of two semesters of basic geology. But I digress.
The latest round of junk science is being used to promote the anti-GMO movement. Here’s the article that inspired this one.
What seems to be happening is one or two (or a few dozen) loud and charismatic people are taking control of certain policy decisions. For example, in the Kitzmiller case, members of the school board decided to override every single science teacher in order to promote Intelligent Design. More recently, a few members of congress (with scientific training) are staying unbelievably stupid things about how a woman’s body won’t become pregnant in case of a ‘real rape’. And these are the people making policy. Why?
The Peter Principle is a belief that, in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization’s members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. Scott Adams corollary is that useless people will get promoted to the place where they can do the least damage… management.
Regardless, the people who are most knowledgeable about science are not on school boards. They are not in congress. They are not on boards of businesses or organizations. In general, scientists don’t like those environments. They would rather be doing things that talking about things. But that leaves this huge gap and the ignorant flood in that gap to promote their own ideas. Because they’ve never actually thought about the ideas they are promoting, they don’t understand them, they can’t explain them, but they sure are vehement supporters. My friend has yet to provide one bit of evidence to support her anti-GMO position. But she KNOWS it’s the truth and she’ll do everything she can to promote anti-GMO, anti-science, and ignorance at the ballot.
All of the things that I mentioned above are, ultimately, the result of the profound ignorance of the vast majority of the population. Humans are lazy and thinking is hard. It’s even harder to actually take the time to be skeptical. You have to do all this research and compare things and who has time for that when there’s a football game on (don’t even get me started on athletics).
I would encourage anyone who is reading this to try to make a difference. We’re moving and I’m planning on running for the local school board when we’re all settled. If only to promote thinking.