Gary Bates spent three hours talking about “science”, using “science” to pull the wool over his sheep’s eyes. When I asked him “what is science?”, the best he could come up with, was “nobody really knows”. Yes, nobody knows, that’s what he said. I asked the whole “panel” at the seminar, “please tell me what your understanding of science is”. Not the ultimate definition, not highly philosophic discussions, just their understanding. There were no takers. None. Zip. I know philosophers have speculated about what is and what is not science, but that is not the point. The scientific method is quite clear. (Go read about Karl Popper, if you can’t wait until my next post.)
Gary Bates quote mines Carl Sagan (and many other people, of course). I wonder if he has read any of Carl Sagan’s books? It didn’t sound like it. I practically begged him to read just the first two chapters of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World (Amazon, Kalahari). He explains science beautifully. Of course, I wish he would also read the next seven or eight chapters, as it deals with the exact same subject matter as Bates’ own Alien Intrusion (Amazon, Kalahari), except, from a scientific perspective (and without the altar call at the end, of course). I find it shocking and unforgivable that someone could write a book on that subject matter without having read The Demon-Haunted World, but maybe that’s just me.
With no tertiary education (and secondary education generally not being what it should ideally be), it unfortunately comes as no surprise that Bates does not know what science is. I would not be surprised if 99% of humanity does not know. School mostly teaches things that science has discovered. This is useful and important, but it is so much more important to explain science itself, the scientific method, the role of falsifiability, the ability to think critically, the answer to the very difficult question, “how can we know stuff?”
A friend pointed out that the majority of Bates’ audience probably knows more about science than Bates does, and yet, they listen uncritically to Bates and accepts everything he has to say, no questions asked.
With contemporary media what it is, the marketing departments are running our lives for us. “The Secret” currently tops Kalahari.net’s best-sellers list. Our lives are increasingly dependent upon science and advanced technology. There is no going back. Scientific literacy is becoming one of the most, most important things every human should have.
Please, please read this Slate article on “The Secret”. It is humorous, a fun read, and something all of us should be able to agree on. Except Oprah worshippers, maybe. Discuss, understand and laugh at the quote-mining in “The Secret” and the silliness of its assertions. Done that? Great. Now, stop looking at the splinters in your neighbours’ eyes.
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