The Arrogance of Ignorance

I can’t pretend to be an expert on this topic – especially not considering the subject material. So, I’m going to direct you to a very thought-provoking article by Prometheus over at A Photon In the Darkness, titled The Arrogance of Ignorance.

The thrust of the post is that it is often the people who are least informed about a subject who are the most confident in their understanding of it. A clear example is young earth creationists, who don’t believe that evolution took place. Their confidence in the creation myth is strong enough, and their understanding of evolution poor enough, to dismiss the multiple lines of evidence from taxonomy, geology, archaeology, molecular biology, embryology etc (and often throw in denial of astronomy as well regarding the age of the Earth). It’s even worse when they ‘learn’ a little about the subject from creationist websites, which can lead to absurd challenges to evolutionary biologists such as “If birds and crocodiles are related, why don’t we see crocoducks?”

A dagger in the heart of modern evolutionary biology. Image credit per tag.

A similar phenomenon is rife in the general community regarding climate change. Understanding climate modelling, the complexity of Earth’s systems and the interaction of humans with the atmosphere and oceans is hard. Climate scientists will be the first to explain this to you, if they can take the time out from doing their best to work out what’s going on. On the flip side, it’s easy to buy into poorly substantiated conspiracy theories about scientists colluding for personal gain or to say that climate change isn’t real because it’s snowing in Europe.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t challenge the position of experts. However, it pays to be aware that experts are likely to be the ones who know, more precisely than anyone else, what they do and don’t know about a subject. If a large number of experts hold a position, your few hours of reading blogs on the internet does not qualify you to dismiss their consensus.

If you don’t get the relativity reference, then my point has been made.

If you do, I hope you had a giggle.

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Categories: Random Links, Science, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Arrogance of Ignorance

  1. I heard a saying today..

    “It’s easy to throw stones”

  2. Julia

    Your link leads to a non-latin characters/language website. I.e. link is broken. “… by Prometheus over at A Photon In the Darkness, titled The Arrogance of Ignorance”.

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