Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Arrogance of Ignorance

I don't usually make a habit of picking up old arguments that have been left behind by others, but I want to take a moment to discuss a fairly recent even in Canadian politics. Not so much because of the event itself, but because of what the event can reveal about the way that people think and about the way our thoughts can be manipulated.

Julie Payette, the new Governor General of Canada, is accused of being mean and mocking to the religious community. Even people who might agree with her words have expressed concern that it is not the job of the GG to address political issues.

Personally, I don't believe that the GG's comment was political. I believe that she made a simple point, as an educated 21st Century Canadian, speaking to a very specific crowd.

Please remember that she was speaking at the conference on Canadian Science Policy. Addressing the issue of scientific ignorance is exactly why they were all there.

Here in the 21st Century, we know how to ask questions that can be answered, how to infer working theories from those answers, and how to separate those inferences from personal, social, and political opinions.

Unfortunately, we don't do a good job of teaching that to children, or of holding adults to that standard.

I agree with Dr Payette when she says that mythology has no place in shaping our national policy on science. Canadians should believe and practice whatever sustains them, but only science should inform our national science policy.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time today.

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