2013-01-18-BFP1030-flatands


1030 Flat And Stupid.

60 Comments

I am a native of Kansas. Kansas, geographically, has many fine points. You can see a great distance from a high point, there are rarely earthquakes… I’m sure there are other things too. When it comes to farmland you can’t beat Kansas. The farmers take very good care of their work. Especially when compared to the shitholes that exist right across the border in Colorado. When I lived in Kansas I thought it was a filthy, but Colorado really doubles down on being crap. By comparison Kansans, on average, like to keep shit tidy. Don’t get me wrong, the place I come from has litter all over, dilapidated buildings on the edge of town, slum neighborhoods that are creeping into nice ones, but nothing like I’ve seen since I’ve been in Colorado. Colorado also has a surprisingly corrupt state government by comparison. I had no idea how good I had it until I moved. Of course the problem is not the states, physically, in either case. The problem is the people. The magic boundaries of law sculpts the people who live within them as they in turn scult those laws. It amazes me how much the thinking of people changes between two points bisected with a state border.

In all honesty I don’t mind living in either place. I keeps meself to meself, so the rule of law rarely interferes with me. Likewise the aggrivation of people generally. That said, I was no fan of Kansas’s backwards views about science in the classroom. My parents made sure I had a grasp of science that exceeded the narrow confines of the classroom, and a desire to learn on my own. If you intend to get anyplace in Kansas it’s kind of important to be a self starter. The public school system is not constructed in such a way as to facillitate a lot of “book learning”. Well, actually that’s not true on one level. You can learn from the books. You’ll just learn an outdated and distorted version of things. That’s a problem caused by Texas more than Kansas actually, and that’s also another topic entirely. Also, these issues are shared all over the country and are by no means exclusive to Kansas. It’s just really prevalent there.

There was a movie made not too long ago called Easy A. The protagonist pretends to have sex with boys, for gifts, to help them improve their image, pretend to be straight, or what have you. For this she is eventually targeted and ostrisized by a religious student organization. Although the group is a cartoonish caricature of such groups it is actually not unlike groups that existed in my school many years ago. I’m not someone who feels like religion has no place in school, government, or what have you, at all. Indeed you will never be able to fully seperate the two things so long as people are allowed to freely practice their religion. Elected officials will bring their beliefs to office. So long as they understand that their system of beliefs is not the rule of law there should be no problem, but that is rarely the case. Generally you’re gonna get some bleed. Damage is done to society as a whole when belief obscures fact. Science is not a belief system. It is an effort to understand what can be learned. A good scientist is not trying to pull a fast one on people. They present all the evidence available and attempt to construct a modle of understanding that is correct according to that evidence. If that evidence is proven incorrect a scientist moves forward with ammended knowledge.

The difference between belief and science is “this is what we know” versus “this is what we think we know”. The difference, in short, is arrogance.

Since many of you were in school our understanding of many things has changed. It is very likely that your current understanding of the world in regards to science is outdated. Dinosaurs may well have been covered in feathers. They may have been wildly colorful. Many new kinds have been discovered. Some old kinds have been found to be incorrect constructions of evidence. We are very lucky that a percentage of the population doesn’t get the answer to a question and say “WE HAVE LEARNED ALL THERE IS TO LEARN!” If those people weren’t around you wouldn’t be reading these words, because there would be no internet, your phone wouldn’t fit in your pocket, and your life expectancy would so short that a comic about people in their 20s not having their shit together wouldn’t even make sense.

Now, after all of that, I’m also glad that there is an opposition to scientific understanding. It may seem insane, but I have kind of a comic book worldview and things seem to work better if there is tension between two groups. Having an adversary to prove wrong, who never gives up even when you soundly thrash them, helps keep people motivated. Optimus Prime needs a Megatron to reach his full potential. Of course it’s even better if Megatron has a Starscream constantly fucking him over so he never manages to do much real damage. I wonder who the Starscream in this analogy would be…?