I just learned a new word: agnotology means culturally-induced ignorance or doubt. Is that not what’s going on in this country regarding climate change? Otherwise well-educated and intelligent people seem to be leaping onto the climate change denial bandwagon with the same blind commitment that lemmings are known for. Certainly there are multiple explanations for this phenomenon. One that I’ve been thinking about lately is a widespread (and embarrassing, in the global scheme of things) lack of appreciation for science. I’m putting it nicely. Those who denigrate scientific findings take it a step further. By lambasting science, these people only expose their own ignorance.
I myself was once a science-basher. Granted, I was in high school, not adulthood. I was an artist and as such, espoused the belief that science was a) fundamentally boring, b) something I planned never to study and c) for geeks. This narrow-mindedness might have persisted, had I not had the good fortune of meeting and becoming close friends with my freshman roommate at college. Louise was not only one of the kindest, smartest and best-read people I’d ever met, she was genuinely interested in the arts and in science. It was she who taught me, by her example, that science can be fascinating and is deserving of respect and study. Eventually, I earned a PhD in a scientific field and married a research scientist.
In an effort to be charitable toward the climate change deniers whose voices chortle from soap-boxes, I wonder if they simply lacked the good fortune of meeting, at some point in their formative lives, a friend like Louise?