Tuesday, September 9, 2008

They see me thinkin'... they hatin'...

A good quote was linked on another journal I read, and I thought I would relay it here. It's good.

[M]y problem is with the all too common accusation of intellectual arrogance being hurled at myself and most of my colleagues who defend science from pseudoscience, be that creationism, intelligent design, UFO claims, psychic powers, astrology or "alternative" medicine. The reasoning, such as it is, goes like this: how dare you, Dr. X (put here any name of any scientist who dares to write for the public), claim that so many people are wrong and you and a small number of other egg-headed intellectuals are right? Who are you to declare the truth of evolution and the falsity of intelligent design? What makes you the arbiter in deciding what is science and what is bunk? ...

Intellectual arrogance, in the utmost degree, is being displayed by those who dismiss out of hand the considerate opinion of someone who has studied a field for 25 years only because they cherish a particular religious worldview that has no independent foundation in reality. Arrogance, according to my dictionary, is "having an exaggerated sense of one's own importance or abilities," and it seems to me to fit perfectly someone who has no technical background in a given field and yet pontificates endlessly about what is True and what is not.
-Massimo Pigliucci, "Intellectual arrogance" at Rationally Speaking

Here is where I assert what I know. I know some things about history, and the way cultures grow and develop. I know some things about religion, and what place it has for many people in their lives. I also know a couple of things about politics, particularly where it intersects with religion or culture (and in the latter case, this happens a lot). This isn't to say I'm actually an expert in any of these things. Sure, compared to someone without a degree in anthropology I've got decent credentials, but I have only a Bachelor of Arts, which in an academic subject means little. It means that most people I talk to with an education have a vastly higher amount of experience and expertise in the area they studied. It means that most people I talk to about anything important have at least studied something, and even if its only tangentially related they are coming to the discussion with a healthy respect for expertise, education, and fact.

Then there's the internet. The internet is where I find people who aren't college professors, or other folk who've proven themselves capable of studying various things. The internet is where I find people who glorify ignorance over education, and use anti-intellectualism as a shield and a mask for their own bitterness that they don't know jack, and for once they aren't getting away with pretending they do. The internet is where I find people who think that America will progress socially, economically, scientifically, and politically by being resentful of experts instead of being interested in what they have to say or how they came to their conclusions. The internet is where I find poor Republicans voting against their own interests, gay Republicans voting against their own interests, transsexual Republicans voting against their own interests, Pagan Republicans voting against their own interests, female Republicans voting against their own interests, and independents voting for whomever they can to avoid supporting "that popular guy."

The internet is where I'm reminded that even if the test scores are wrong and I am of average intelligence... that still means half the country is less intelligent than I am. And they'll never forgive me for it. These people are the same hateful brats I knew in grade school, the ones who encouraged smart kids to shut up, who still haven't forgiven kids like me who dared to get above ourselves and actually do our best. 

And this, my friends, is why I have not checked my friends page in days.

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