A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how we live in the future. And I commented, as an aside, that in light of the truly amazing degree to which we have been able to figure out the universe, it boggles the mind that there are people who are apparently impervious to that understanding. Worse, they base their whole belief systems on that ignorance.
Case in point:
- Things like this truly amazing video appear, not on some obscure scientific website, but on Time’s Newsfeed.
- Bill O’Reilly recently said that we haven’t figured out what causes the tide to go in and out with great regularity.
I know many view the ensuing mockery as unfair. After all, we all have brain farts now and again, and celebrities are on camera a lot so theirs are very public. And O’Reilly has responded by saying, “Ok, so how’d the moon get there? How’d the sun get there?” and a litany of other similar questions to try and make his point.
But here’s the thing. O’Reilly is a rich old white guy who was born with every opportunity. For him to be so oblivious to the fact that, not only do we thoroughly understand the tides, we understand every subsequent question he asked just about as thoroughly, is willful ignorance.
I’m dead serious. With his upbringing and current life, he has to try to be that ignorant, and I mean that literally. He is doing the mental equivalent of putting his fingers in his ears and going, “LALALALALALA!” whenever he looks at the world, and has been his entire life. His cars and phones required scientific understanding much more advanced than that required to answer all of his followup questions. Most of his “Oh yeah, well what about this?” retorts were answered in a time when people wore funny clothes and had their pictures taken by a guy under a hood who used a tray of explosive powder as a flash. This is not new stuff. It’s not news, it’s history.
We don’t all have to be science buffs. And I don’t think it’s a terrible failing if he himself doesn’t understand the precise mechanics involved in how the universe works. But for someone who is vocal about scientific teaching to not even know what basic science is? That would be like expressing strong opinions about voting laws and not knowing that, oh by the way, blacks and women have the vote now. Because both of those happened more recently than Bill O’Reilly’s vision of scientific knowledge.