Are we living in an age of stupidity?

From the dawn of written history we have evidence of the development of the scientific method as a way of thinking. I believe the method has its origins in legal process. Perhaps early thinkers saw some form of 'good sense' underlying some of human law and wondered if nature obeyed laws of some kind.

The development of rules for speech such as grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and logic was, I believe, a response to the desire for quality of discourse in the assemblies where laws were made and lawbreakers were tried.

The study of language led to the study of logic, which led to early versions of our modern scientific method. The ancients developed theories of the mind and its methods, theories of the cosmos, the atom, geometry, history - and that is but a small sample.

As this is not a history of science, let's leap over all of the great intellects and come forward to the modern era. Karl Popper promoted a model of the scientific method which I would call a 'logical equilibrium' model - a model of logical forces in balance over time. A scientific edifice (theory) is set up on a sure foundation. Over the years evidence accumulates, the edifice grows. Since the foundation self-evidently continues to support the weight it must be a sure foundation, right?


One day, along comes somebody who asks exactly the right question - "what if such-and-such?" - and the whole edifice comes crashing down. Well, yes, I exaggerate - the foundation undergoes a shift - and there is natural resentment amongst scientists because nobody likes earthquakes - or a smart-ass. Gradually, a new theory comes to replace the old as more and more people accept it: "Did the paradigm shift for you, too, honey?"

My Point:

Given the long history and proven value of the scientific method - why do so many otherwise rational people reject good, sound, hard scientific evidence? The intelligent design hypothesis is bad science - it adds no predictive power to the sum of human knowledge. Strange conspiracy theories about the 9/11 tragedy are bad science - they completely ignore the dynamics of structure collapse, a matter known to any architect worthy of the title.

The movie The Day After Tomorrow was entertaining and thought-provoking, but it contained a lot of bad science. The movie Flood is based on sound engineering with very little bad science - apart from the stupidity of designing a safety feature to be virtually inaccessible.

A newly released British movie has a new slant on environmental themes - the aftermath of global climate change. Will it be thought provoking? Will it be bad science? Or will it use good science to show that we are living in The Age of Stupid

For a follow-up to this, please see Building A Straw Man Out Of Red Herrings