Scienceblogger James Hrynyshyn, who saw her speak in NC:
Only ordinary Americans, and, because this Clinton campaign stop was in a
rural corner of the state, only small-town Americans, can be trusted to do
what's right. It's sad, really. Not only is everyone else the enemy, but
intelligence itself is suspect. What we need, she seemed to be saying between
the lines, is someone at the top who's just a simple yokel. More of the last
eight years, in other words.
Upping the ante a bit, Ben Stein has said in an interview that he doesn’t trust scientists because, after all, science gave us the Holocaust. It’s a banner year for the know-nothing party.
In the humanities, we used to have a handful of “postmodernists” who said the same sort of thing. I remember reading a book that actually had a sentence to the effect that there was a straight line leading directly from the Enlightenment to Auschwitz. In various places I’ve argued against such claptrap, which seems to me to ignore the entire nineteenth century, race theory, Romanticism, and the whole bloody Counter-Enlightenment; and yet, the Ontario Science Center, as recently as two summers ago, was running an exhibit on “the Dark Side of Science”, blaming scientists not only for the Holocaust, but American slavery as well. I suspect however that the Sokol Hoax pretty much put the kibosh on anti-science talk in the humanities, not to mention the fact that creationists have been quick to co-opt that talk.
And, lest I be mistaken here, of course there has been a god-awful amount of pseudo-science and tragically mistaken expert opinion over the years. I’m not about to argue that everything in the scientific tradition has been right or just, and yes, the “scientific establishment” has the same blind spots as all other establishments. The Tuskegee experiments, lobotomies, phrenology- I’m not trying to say that these things weren’t once called science, or that they aren’t also a part of the tradition that gave us relativity and the polio vaccine. But, when I think of “science”, in the sense of a constantly evolving body of knowledge about how the world works, it’s very hard for me to understand that as somehow innately threatening to anyone aside from those people who already know how the world works, thank you very much, and who don’t want a bunch of egg-heads mucking that up. My point: the answer to bad science is better science, not anti-science.
As you might have noticed, anti-intellectuals are legion now- they’re as common as resentment- and of course, the political parties, who have long since given up on searching for new ideas, will gladly exploit that resentment. In the age of the Internet, the ill-informed opinion is King. Truthiness, and all of that.
So, maybe it’s time for me to get in on it too. Here’s what I’m proposing: a Wiki-Hospital. Because, let’s face it, isn’t there something snobby and arrogant about the so-called “medical establishment” telling me that I can’t perform brain surgery? And why is some fancy-pants, New York City, voodoo shit like “X-Ray machines” and “Magnetic Resonance Imaging” better at detecting heart problems than, say, tapping on the person’s ribs and listening to their chest with an empty milk glass? And who are those loafer-wearing, egg-heads to say that some supposed “medical doctor” understands cancer better than my Uncle Larry, the plumber? Maybe Larry isn’t an “expert”, but wouldn’t the combined knowledge of say ten plumbers, collaborating online, be better than one oncologist? Of course it would! We all know that!
Besides, what does some doctor have that I don’t have? I’ll tell you: the only thing that makes him different from me is a piece of paper; that’s it! Granted, he earned that piece of paper through several years of arduous study, hard work, and experience in a clinical environment. But, nevertheless, I have lots of pieces of paper all over the place!
So, please, I’m calling out to all of the regular people now, the real Americans, the silent majority: if you’re sick of those “experts” with all of their effete book-related “knowledge” looking down their noses as us, jes folks, and if you’re in desperate need of medical attention, well by all means, come on out to my Wiki-Hospital. It’s in my basement, right behind the washing machine and the cat box. Now, I’ll admit that it’s not really all that clean down there at the moment. But, what kind of snob needs a so-called “sterile” operating room? You’re not some kind of elitist, are you?