Ignorance loves company: Four examples

Ignorance loves company: Four examples May 23, 2013

Ignorance loves company. The truly stupid resent those who are not and won’t be satisfied until they’ve burned all the books, torn down the libraries, closed the universities, and made it impossible for anyone else not to share their own proud ignorance.

Example No. 1.

It’s hard to overstate the loss of knowledge that this bill would bring about. We wouldn’t know the unemployment rate or how many people are working. We wouldn’t know how many people are in the workforce, or enrolled in school, or retired. We wouldn’t know how much people are earning, or how many are in poverty. We wouldn’t know how many people are robbed or assaulted each year.

Example No. 2.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who is a global warming denier, by the way, is the head of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He has recently decided that the National Science Foundation — a globally respected agency of scientific research and investigation — should no longer use peer review to fund grants. Instead it should essentially get political permission for which research to fund.

This is not a joke. Smith wants politics to trump science at the National Science Foundation.

Example No. 3.

North Carolina? You remember: the state against science regarding sea level rise? The state with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources head who doubts climate change science and believes oil is a renewable resource? The state that tried to appoint a head of early childhood education who believed the Fukushima earthquake might have been caused by ultrasonic waves from North Korea? That North Carolina?

Folks, that’s nothing. We have a new record.

Example No. 4 (somewhat less recent).

In March of 415 C.E., on a sunny day in the holy season of Lent, Cyril of Alexandria, the most powerful Christian theologian in the world, murdered Hypatia, the most famous Greco-Roman philosopher of the time. Hypatia was slaughtered like an animal in the church of Caesarion, formerly a sanctuary of emperor worship. Cyril may not have been among the gang that pulled Hypatia from her chariot, tearing off her clothes and slashing her with shards of broken tiles, but her murder was surely done under his authority and with his approval.

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  • AK

    Well, the article Fred referrenced didn’t really contradict what Tim O’Neill wrote (with the exception of its claim that the Library was destroyed by the Arabs), though some commenters indeed went too far.

  • AK

    Tim O’Neill’s article two posts above is a useful correction here.

  • AK

    The execution of Lavoisier is a good comparison here.

  • The_L1985

    You’re right. The person who wrote that paragraph is pretty damned ignorant.

  • Aaron

    Okay, yes, it does sound very sappy, and I suppose it kinda is, but the context matters. This movie is not Twee at all. As the next poster says, there is a lot of very horrifying stuff in here.

  • Daniel

    Isn’t that from that Limey rip off of “An American Carol”?

  • The_L1985

    The menstrual-cloth thing (which does appear in Agora) is probably fictional.

  • Previous Greek knowledge was not kept in tact. People couldn’t even use Greek or Latin grammar properly after Justinian.

    One thing follows from another in history. Time is not a discrete entity in which things happen uninfluenced by other things. Nor are things happening within one time period uninfluenced by the other things that are happening at that time. As for that article — whatever. I’ll go with what I was taught in history class, rather than something on the internet. I don’t think 2007 is too outdated when it comes to the study of the Eastern Roman Empire.

  • Economic theorists enamored of the Almighty Market like to pretend they believe that people always make rational economic decisions. (Except for poor people, of course.) I say “pretend to believe” because I can’t see how anyone who looks at how people behave can possible truly believe that 1) they’re always rational and 2) that economics drives them as individuals more than anything else does. “Hm, my wife is costing me money because she’s disabled — I should therefore divorce her” is not a thing that occurs to the vast majority of spouses of disabled wives, for instance.

  • People have known for thousands of years that to have power over people, you must keep them ignorant. To keep them ignorant, you must kill — or defund — the teachers. It wasn’t a new idea even when Justinian did it. I don’t know how much Hitler was just going after dissenters, and how much he was making something of a pre-emptive strike (he was shrewd, but not very educated).

  • Yeah, it’s one of those things that screams “made up by men who can’t imagine a woman being both smart and sexual”.

  • dpolicar

    (Goddammit I hate disqus’ new sign-in behavior)

    I agree with all of this, but I’ll also point out that “Hm, my wife is costing me money because she’s disabled — I should therefore divorce her”is not necessarily what a rational economic agent concludes, even if there were such things as rational economic agents.

  • hf

    Still annoyed that a woman told Agent 00005 how to stop your BUGGER-ing?

    (Eric “the Red” Blowhard commands Blowhard’s Unreformed Goons, Gangsters and Espionage Renegades in Illuminatus!)

  • Carstonio

    Again, true but not quite my point. In Fred’s first three examples, the people involved treat knowledge not just as a threat to their power, but also as an object of contempt. Like they’re out of their depth and feel ashamed of their lack of understanding. I don’t perceive that in the fourth example, but I do perceive it in the fate of Lavoisier that AK mentioned.

  • Regimes that center around a leadership figure often end up, as a byproduct, enforcing an anti-intellectualism that has, as part of its effects, a tendency to weed out people who are too intelligent, because they also tend to be too critical of the regime.

    Lysenkoism in the USSR is a classic modern example of the aftereffects of something like that.

  • Disqus has been “forgetting” to load Fred’s latest posts on the Slacktivist main page, necessitating a manual refresh.

  • I once read a line to the effect of “Economists work under the assumption that the people participating in the economy are all the sort of people who would walk into a fast food place, ask if the tap water is complimentary, and when told that it is, would immediately run out and get a hose long enough to reach their house.

  • Justme

    The thing about the Hypatia story is that her murder didn’t have anything to do with her religious beliefs, or her mathematics. It was a strictly political thing. She was murdered because she was an influential supporter of Orestes, the governor, who was in a fight with Cyril over the control of the city. And it was just one incident of political violence going on (rioting by Alexandrine Jews over a ban on public festivals, monks loyal to Cyril trying to kill Orestes, Orestes torturing Cyril’s supporters who he suspected of sedition, etc)

  • SisterCoyote

    Ohhh, there once was a thread-troll named Eric the Red
    Who came writing to Slacktivist from MRA threads
    And the braggart did prattle and rattle his cage,
    as he whined about women all over the page
    But then he went quiet, did Eric the Red,
    When he met the commenter Matilda who said…
    Oh, you talk and you lie and you stink up our space!
    Now I think it’s high time you get out of this place!
    And so then came the typing and clicking of mice,
    as the brave lass Matilda charged in with her dice!
    And the braggart named Ragnar was boastful no more…
    when his ugly red head rolled around on the floor!

    (Credit, of course, to the Excellent Writers of Skyrim.)