TITLE: Another Reason to Support Education AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 27, 2007 5:31 PM DESC: ----- BODY: (Update: I added a new closing paragraph, which got lost when editing the original post.) ... and especially, these days, in science and technology:
Human beings have had to guess about almost everything for the past million years or so. The leading characters in our history books have been our most enthralling, and sometimes our most terrifying, guessers. ... And the masses of humanity through the ages, feeling inadequately educated just like we do now, and rightly so, have had little choice but to believe this guesser or that guesser. -- Kurt Vonnegut, "A Man Without a Country"
And Vonnegut, humanist that he was, even had a university degree in chemistry. Today, everyone needs to understand science and technology to make sense of almost anything that happens in this world. But they also need to know history and political science and economics and finance, to understand the world. I also think that knowing a little about literature and the arts can help us make our way, in addition to making our lives more enjoyable. Please forgive me if I continue to focus on the science and technology side of the equation. But keeping learning — and teaching others — whatever and wherever you can. I do disagree with Vonnegut in at least one regard. He seems to think that, by relying on information, leaders can stop being guessers, that they can instead be deducers. But any substantial problem is too large to be solved purely by deduction, and the problems we face in the world are certainly more than just substantial. I think that informed guessing is the best we can do. Doing science and math prepares one to understand this, and to understand that even our informed guesses are always contingent. This is, of course, yet another reason to teach folks science and math. -----