America’s Hatred of Science and Love of Opinion
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle collider, the largest and most powerful of its kind, established by the European Organization for Nuclear Research and stationed near Geneva, Switzerland. It is underground and boasts a circumference of 17 miles.
This marvel of science is currently being used to answer fundamental questions about particles, their various interactions, the deep structure of space and time, and the interrelation between quantum mechanics and general relativity.
In the simplest terms, particles are slammed into one another and the byproducts of these collisions offer valuable insight into the subatomic world and the laws that operate within it. Most recently, physicists discovered what gives particles their mass. Imagine, just a little time ago no one had any idea why some particles, like photons, are without mass and why others have it. These insights could one day denude all the laws of the physical universe, giving us unprecedented knowledge of why this or that is thus.
The United States, the leader in technological and scientific contributions and advancement, was going to build one even larger and more powerful – keeping with the tradition of America’s cult of bigger and better. But unfortunately, after dumping 2 billion into the initiated project, they cancelled it in 1993 with Clinton’s finalizing signature for several vague and equally vaporous reasons.
Just to give you an idea of the power and scope of this colossal project, the Superconducting Super Collider was going to be 51 miles in circumference, compared to Europe’s 17 miles, and was set to surpass its energy capabilities by 5 times. The total cost was estimated at 4.4 billion, which is half of the average monthly expenditure of the war in Iraq. Did you get that? We spent 9 billion a month to accomplish nothing but re-create a derelict, Islamist state in the Middle East run by idiots and overwhelmed with madmen but we don’t want to spend 4.4 billion dollars ONE TIME to advance humanity’s knowledge of the physical universe.
The value of researching now as opposed to later cannot be understated. Certainly economically speaking, there are only good arguments. Lawrence Krauss makes some depressing observations about America’s penchant for cutting science out of the budget in favor of war, and points out that the scientific advancement of only a generation ago has contributed substantially to GDP today.
If, as Americans, we’re honest about our culture, we can admit that it doesn’t value science or even intelligence. You may be wondering how this can be if we are supposedly ‘the leaders’ in scientific advancement. But if we examine America’s potential and how hard we fight to keep superstition in the classroom, it becomes clear that if we were really committed then we’d have realized the star trek universe decades ago.
Even our motivations for scientific research are wanting; one of the reasons for dropping our collider project was simply because the USSR was gone and it was no longer necessary, as a show of force, to assert our scientific dominance. Translation? That science is good for two things, to impress or weaponize. Apparently knowledge for knowledge’s sake isn’t good enough because what good would be a discovery that couldn’t be used to kill people or awe them into submission?
Two of America’s favorite throat clearing statements before uttering something profoundly uninformed include, ‘Well, I’m a Christian so I believe…’ and ‘I’m just a simple man but I think…’ Indeed, well there we have it. Our politicians and people think believing is knowing, and apparently simplicity of mind is a virtue. Faith as a concept in our country, the notion of believing just because, is also time honored as virtuous. Our leaders and our people seem fundamentally unconcerned with empiricism and natural truths.
Republicans exemplify more than anyone this love of identifying with and even becoming ‘the average American’. We all remember Sarah Palin’s obsession with Joe Sixpack, the imagined blue-collar every-day American who drinks beer out of a can and apparently depends on people like Palin to look out for him. Really? Is this who we want our leaders aspiring to? Blue-collar, uneducated, religious beer-drinking nitwits who are more interested in how much drinking money they have than whether or not we’re researching climate change, pioneering space-travel, or solving the mysteries of the subatomic world?
Whether we are talking biology, physics, or even just the weather, a great many Americans are more interested in their personal opinions than they are the facts. Scientific minds and studies are treated like opinion pieces and so long as someone can come up with a non-peer reviewed study by some religious outcast, we’re expected to take the rebuttal seriously.
Let’s look at some quotes from some political leaders in America shall we? Remember, these are people who have held office, ran for office competitively, and were quite popular in their time or continue to be. Seriously…click on it.
The hysteria surrounding genetically modified organisms is an equally terrifying and telling exposure of America’s complete disregard for facts – in fact worse than this, it exposes their contempt for even investigating the truth. Here are two videos in which people, receiving a lecture on GMOs, take the words of an 11-year old seriously, and then another where people ‘against’ GMOs can’t even tell us what the letters stand for. There are absolutely no studies which have not been definitively debunked that prove GMOs are in any way harmful and yet many people are thoroughly convinced they are cancerous.
Just to beat this horse until it’s unrecognizable, we might also examine America’s obsession with creationism and its newly formatted descendant, intelligent design. This may actually manage to insert itself into school curricula on the basis that it is a ‘scientific’ theory when in reality it is nothing more than creationism in a pseudo-scientific/philosophical format, made just palatable enough to justify its inclusion. In other words, casuistry… People who fundamentally misunderstand core scientific concepts and theories are making decisions as to their value.
The United States and its people need to start prioritizing proper and serious scientific tuition instead of gorging itself on the binge-diet of superstition and feeling that pervades so much of our politics and society. Let’s stop prioritizing military ventures and invasions that redound to nothing and start pouring our billions into ventures of scientific value. Let’s stop electing politicians that want to be average and start electing politicians that are, without a doubt, exceptional and well-above average. After all, they’re going to be leading the nation.
And finally, let’s stop fear-mongering and start investigating the unknown. If we don’t know something or understand it, let’s have the balls to admit this and then take the time to research it, anything less is cowardice and just plain lazy. If you really care about an issue then get off your ass and do the reading, and I don’t mean only one or two articles. You will have to work a little harder than that. Learning how to research and critically think are skill sets that apparently, most of us don’t have.
We need to think about what values our country represents. Does it represent backward mentalities obsessed with tradition and misoneism or does it represent a forward thinking, curious, brave, and ethical nature undaunted by progress and a love of the advancement of human well-being?