Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is This Argument Going in an Unwanted Direction?

A Photon in the Darkness explains why it is a bad idea to become an atheist in junior high school:

Now, most of the people who are acting as "parrots" don't see it that way. They are usually convinced that they understand the topic quite well enough to see that their assertions are correct. They assume that a superficial - and usually over-simplified - understanding of an issue can make them equal to people who have studied the topic in depth.

To some extent, this belief (definition 1) that "everyday people" can understand a topic as well (or, in some instances, better) than the "experts" is a lingering zeitgeist of the 20th century, epitomized by many in the "Baby Boomer" generation (my generation, regrettably). It is, unfortunately, no more a reflection of reality than most of the philosophical nonsense to come out of that generation.

Moral philosophy, no matter how good it makes you feel, never trumps reality. The Soviet Union had to learn this lesson the hard way (see: Trofim Lysenko) and it appears that many in the Western World are determined to repeat their mistakes.

No, as much as we might like it to be different, there is no substitute for actually learning the subject. Reading "Molecular Biology for Dummies" will not put you on par with someone who has put in the hours and effort required to really learn the subject. This is not to say that people with lots of education and advanced degrees cannot be wrong - that is most definitely not true (see: cold fusion)! However, when discussing their field, the smart money is betting on the "expert" over the "self-educated".

As a general rule, nearly all the people who discover genuine problems with a system of knowledge are experts in that system.


Blogger J. Mark English said...

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11:51 AM  

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