Sunday, October 23, 2011

Anti-Intellectual Incompetence

 An interesting post from Massimo Pigliucci at Rationally Speaking.

I was particularly intrigued because I had just read yet another 'discussion' on religion vs. science, where the arguers for religion were chronically unable to discern the difference between proof and belief. If one cannot make that very gaping distinction, there is no hope of discussion. I admit to feeling there is no need for discussion. Religion, in this so global modern world, should be private and personal, and ought not to be imposed on others. My beliefs are mine; theirs are theirs. But provable information -- that is the realm of the public domain.

This article discusses another false dichotomy: intellectualism vs engineers. Timothy Ferris of 'Wired Magazine' argues that only productive technology is worthwhile (does he work for Perry?) and that thinking, ideas, and intellectual processes are a waste of time.

How, I wonder, did he get the education that allowed him to think about this? Not that he did much thinking. It is clear he is bias-promotion rather than genuine reasoning in his article.

Massimo makes several good points, most notably that Ferris "makes his case by cherry picking examples, distorting history, and simply ignoring what is not convenient for his thesis." He provides examples to support this claim.

Later, Massimo says, "five minute of serious reflection should have made Ferris realize that he created a straw man with precious little correspondence to reality." Again, he offers counter arguments worth considering.

I am, as with religion vs science, willing to allow both sides validity. I see them as reflecting different aspects of human nature and need. I have always been grossly suspicious of any premise that requires absolute exclusive validity. Nature vs Nurture. Particle vs Wave. Life is seldom so clear cut. My guiding principle is 'it's a spectrum' and from that beginning, I proceed, cautiously, to determine how dark or light the shades of grey are on any issue.

Well worth reading:

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