Walking Away Continued – the stupid continue to gain power

walk awayby Rocpoc

Editorial: Meet a science committee that doesn’t get science
[Via Ars Technica]

In general, we only become aware of a politician’s position on scientific issues during the campaign season. And, with a few exceptions like energy and climate policy, they rarely become campaign issues for anyone other than presidential candidates. So for the most part, it’s rare to have a good picture of what our elected representatives think about science and technology.

If only that were true this year.

Missouri’s Todd Akin, a Representative running for Senator, made headlines through his bizarre misunderstanding of biology, specifically that of the female reproductive system. Overcome by his desire to believe that pregnancy (and thus abortion) shouldn’t be an issue for rape victims, he infamously claimed that the female body could somehow block pregnancy in the case of “legitimate rape.”


Denying science actually gets them on the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

I wrote about walking away some 3 years ago. It was in reference to LeGuin’s classic  Those who walk away from Omelas. I wrote then:

Cultures seldom die in some kind of conflagration with a set time point. The ‘Roman Empire’ survived long after Rome itself was sacked. Someone cut down the last tree on Easter Island. Cultures often die by the slow accumulation of rationalizations that become more and more unable to actually describe reality. The cognitive dissonance required to hold these rationalizations and still function in the real world makes them stupid.

I’ve also talked about Carlo M. Cipolla and his treatise The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity. Stupid people hurt themselves and they hurt others. The stupid always exist no matter what one does. And they are the most harmful.

What determines the extent of their harm is who actually controls them.As Cipolla states, when a society is moving uphill, the stupid are constrained by a high proportion of the intelligent – those who do things that help themselves and help others. This produces enough gains for the entire community to make progress.

But when societies are on the downhill side, the fraction that are stupid is no different. They are just now controlled by bandits – those who do things to help themselves and to hurt others.

The rise of stupidity is a sure sign that our culture is in the hands of bandits. We know this. We see the continuing impact of the bandits – the Great Recession is an example.

And as time goes on, even the bandits get stupider, harming the entire society they depend on for survival. The French Revolution is just one example of what happens in that sequence.

So the only thing to do is to walk away. To realize that our current vision is destructive and will not provide the support we need to be successful. The old path will only fall into obsolescence.

Walking away does not mean to just ignore. It means to give up trying to reform from within. It means walking a new path, one that can wrest control away from the stupid and bandits.

I think the new generation is already on this path and is our best hope.

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