THE BLOG

Myths of the Crazy Ape: Educated Elites Are Dangerous

05/04/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

In various pockets in America, particularly in the South, large numbers of people apparently believe educated elites are dangerous. These people rant against the reality of evolution, the reality of global warming, non-religious ideas about the origin of the universe, and scientific ideas about the origin of life. They don't like science because it contradicts the Bible, and they don't like scientists because they believe most scientists are dogmatic in insisting that science trumps myth and religion. In general, they don't like what they call the "educated elite" because they see the educated elite as a danger to their own beliefs.

It's a deep war. If they had complete political power and the weaponry, these people would likely find reason to exterminate everyone who did not share their ideas.

Every human society that existed or exists now has had or has an educated elite. Education brings the advantage of part of the sum of human knowledge gathered throughout human history into the developing mind, and people who have the advantage of that knowledge make up the scientists, physicians, engineers, architects, military strategists, inventors, and so on that keep us moving forward to a healthier and easier life for each generation.

Unfortunately, there are too many people in America who would rather not move forward at all. They don't like change, they don't like new ideas, they don't like new attitudes. Their adult minds are fixed and very few of them are capable of change. What they prefer is a closed ideational system, usually a closed system provided by religion. They would rather not think. They would rather their thinking be done by priests and rabbis and preachers and mullahs and gurus and cult leaders. They are the people who in the extreme follow leaders like Jim Jones and who drink poisoned suicide cocktails when so ordered. There is hardly any gulf between a suicide bomber in the East and a suicidal cult follower in the West.

In America, these people would be a harmless lunatic fringe were it not for their political power and their demand that they control the teaching of children in public schools. They apparently have no remorse about stifling the development of the minds of their children, handicapping their own children in their academic potential, even making such children unqualified for top careers in medicine, science, or engineering. In short, they would rather not have their children be part of the so-called educated elite -- they would rather their children think the way they do and perpetuate their own myths.

I'm not writing this to change the minds of these people, which I believe is largely impossible. I'm also not writing this to merely shout once again how insidious it is to corrupt the minds of developing children with obsolete religious ideas about the world around us.

I'm writing this because it seems to me the educated elite -- the people who, whether they like it or not, are largely in charge of the welfare and future of America -- are for the most part sitting on their duffs in self-absorbed silence. Too many people in the social sciences, the basic sciences and applied basic sciences (such as medicine and engineering) think the best way to handle the problem of yahoo religious fundamentalism, New Age madness, and the general American giggle at anything educated is to ignore it. Folks, that may be the best way for individual careers but it's not the best way for the public interest -- and it's not the best way for the educated elite to secure the future of its own children. You may provide for the future middle class comfort of your children, but if your children come under the political control of the people who hate them, your children (and grandchildren) will suffer for it greatly. In this my eightieth year, I'm urging you to be careful.