The Arrogance of Ignorance

Arrogance comes in a variety of forms. The arrogance of great wealth, the arrogance of great power, the arrogance of great beauty, and the arrogance of a great master are bearable because they rest on an acknowledged and measurable base. The arrogance of ignorance, however, is unbearable because it is rooted in smug satisfaction with being isolated from the facts of the case. The anti-evolution plank in the platform of Christian fundamentalism, is a classic example of the arrogance of know-nothings.

The creationist thesis rests on no valid scientific data, has no hypotheses, offers no experiments, and has no validity within the scientific realm. The demand for its inclusion whenever evolution is discussed has the effect of muting or, worse, permuting the science thus presented. Bad science can not generate valid hypotheses and does nothing to enhance science.

Anti-evolution, the rise of pseudo sciences, and the renewed interest in the occult, all masquerading as science, are symptomatic of the poor job that is done explicating science as a process and a way of knowing. Disciplinary teaching emphasizes fact over concept. Every science discipline should be taught with a process base pervasive from the first to the last day of the course. Science teaching needs be revamped to provide an integrated, nonredundant exposition of the discipline, focussed on principles of which the theory of evolution is only one. Science must to be related both to technology and society. Teaching has to be directed to elicit the desired ends of education and not be regarded simply as a system to deliver fragments of knowledge. The participation of zoologists in delineating the discipline of science and countering pseudo science is essential. Scientists must become involved in science education and participate in updating teachers and insisting on their subject matter competence. University scientists must be concerned beyond the training of majors to provide meaningful education for nonscience majors as well. To ensure quality science education, zoologists must become active in resisting incursions of scientific nonsense in science classrooms. - Mayr (1984)


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