There’s an article up on Fox News by John Gibson that’s just striking for it’s tone. It’s not the kind of ignorance that one just stumbles across in life. No, it’s the kind of ignorance that one must work really hard to cultivate, waking up each morning to seek out opportunities to display this level of stupidity. His grasp of ignorance is almost masterful.
Now scientists say Pluto isn’t a planet. It isn’t big enough. It’s something, but not a planet exactly.
My attitude is: Who says?
It’s been a planet my entire life. I learned that in the third grade. Might be the only thing I remember from the third grade.
It’s the cold one, the farthest from the sun and, yes, it’s the small one.
But no, you can’t unmake Pluto as a planet.
Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I? [emphasis mine]
Somebody somewhere, some mysterious person who answers to no one and seems to have dictatorial power sets new standards for planets and all of a sudden one of the original nine is dropped?
Now as a disclaimer, I don’t particularly care how the solar system is classified. I would like scientists to be consistent, and use all the information at hand (which naturally changes as the years go by). I trust that they do nothing less, though no doubt it’s a contentious process. (See here on why that’s a good thing). In short, I won’t get my undies in a twist if we’ve got 8, 12, or 30 planets.
But John Gibson’s point of not having to unlearn something just because he’s learned it is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Where would that line of thinking take us? We would have ignored bacteria as the cause of ulcers. Reducing stress and staying away from spicy foods would still be the way doctors handled it. After all, that’s what many of them learned in school. Why should they unlearn it just because some stupid scientists come up with a different idea?
How about marriage. Anybody “learn” how to do something that just didn’t seem to work? Why should you have to unlearn it just because a different approach works better?
Religion. I learned some cool stuff as a kid. I think I’ll put the good book away and forgo church. I already know what I need to. Why should I revisit it again?
His attack on scientists (answering to no one with dictatorial power) is also breathtaking for it’s gross mischaracterization and slander. Whatever the politics and contention of planetary classification, I’m quite sure there’s no planetary physicist in an underground bunker stroking a white cat and smoking a pipe, deciding one day to use his unbounded power to blight Pluto.
Is there any area in life where we shouldn’t learn with a touch of humility, with the acknowledgment that we might be wrong and that new information might change the way we understand something?
Oops. I just thought of one… Apparently being a journalist for Fox News.
(Hat tip to John Hawks on the quote)