Tag: science

On Science and Ignorance

Quote of the WeekThe greatest obstacle to discovering the shape of the earth, the continents, and the oceans was not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. –Daniel J. Boorstin

These words by University of Chicago historian and Congress Librarian Daniel Boorstin bring to mind the consistent rejection of science by the Republican Party, and the “debate” on science that takes place in the party divide.  Republicans attacked former chemist and current Pope Francis, after issuing his Laudato Si’ encyclical on global ecology last year.  They also lampooned President Obama during their most recent debates for his involvement with the Paris Climate conference.  Yet Republicans do not merely deny science; they pretend to a knowledge of a “different” science.  For example, Senator Cruz used satellite data to attempt to disprove global climate change.  The scientist whose work Cruz was citing later distanced himself from Cruz’s argument, saying the senator had misunderstood his data and the conclusion.  Cruz has also shown a fatal misunderstanding of science in general, fatal in particular because he is the chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness.  When Republicans complain about the inefficiency of the federal government, it is lamentable that they never think to include, as an argument, that the US Government should not have legislators untrained in science telling the scientists themselves what science is or is not.  That is not merely ignorance; but the “illusion of knowledge.”