Knowledge is wonderful

I hadn’t planned to blog today, but after tweeting the following statement, I thought I should expand on it:
I will never mock lack of knowledge, because people can and do learn. But I will always mock stupidity paraded as knowledge.

So what does this all mean? Well I’ve been told many times, both online and in person that I am a heartless bitch. It comes across as the last straw in an argument, when all else fails, do a personal attack. But when someone doesn’t have knowledge, I will not mock them, I will instead work with them to educate them. If people insist they are right, in the face of proven evidence against their beliefs, then I will mock them.

Let’s look at this a simple way. Say 2+2=4, then you would be correct. If someone says 2+2=22, well then they are wrong, but you can see the logic in how they got to that answer. Once you teach them that adding two numbers together doesn’t work that way, fantastic.

But if someone insists that 2+2=5, because the + symbol has mystical and ancient powers that just can’t be explained by modern science, well they are an idiot and should be called out on it.

Now that’s a very simplistic explanation, but the same still holds true for all kinds of things, that unfortunately many people hold as true. Even when they contradict themselves, they still dodge the truth, often with the excuse that if they don’t understand it, then no one can understand it, so we have to just accept it. That is blatant stupidity.

So what kind of things am I talking about? Well it’s things like religion, chiropractic, alternatives to medicine, anti vaccination, psychic powers, basically any kind of woo.

[Admin’s note: Just found this unfinished blog, time to continue it]

People who peddle this kind of stuff fall into two categories:
1. They are a scam artist, in it for the money.
2. They have no idea of reality, and truly believe something works beyond all proof that it doesn’t.

The first ones are easy to spot. When you challenge them to prove their claims, they usually get hostile, or threaten legal action, or even try to become violent.
The second ones will contradict themselves, and then when it is pointed out to them, they will just throw out a line like “Science can’t explain everything. It’s impossible to know everything, so we have to accept it.”

This type of statement really annoys me. Yes it is true science doesn’t know everything, but not knowing something isn’t grounds for proof that something unknown is happening.

United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld was ridiculed when he made the statement:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.

But he was actually very smart in what he said.
“There are known knowns”, the sky is blue, we all die at some point, and coffee is way to expensive for what you actually get.
“There are known unknowns”, the universe is full of things we have yet discovered. The same applies to the bottom of the ocean floor. We know they exist, but we don’t know what we will find there.
“There are unknown knowns”, every day new discoveries are being made. Every day we discover new things about stuff we thought we knew everything about. As scientist explore things in new ways never previously thought possible, it opens up new avenues of discovery, in areas we didn’t know about, or hadn’t previously attempted.

So while science doesn’t know all of the unknown knowns yet, they are being worked on. But at the same time, there are many things that are known and set in stone. A hologram in a plastic band. Doesn’t have mystical powers that make you more powerful, that’s easy to prove. Someone saying it is mystical, or ancient, or that “the powers that be know this, but don’t want you to know it” is just utter bullshit. If someone had made such a remarkable, unbelievable, almost too good to be true, statement, would they really be selling it in a supermarket, or online, or on the telly? No, they would be claiming a Nobel prize in physics, and making millions off it that way, as it would open up a whole new world of discovery. The simple fact is, if someone throws in a lot of science sounding words, and then backs them up with a testimonial, then all they are doing is ripping you off.

So getting back to the original statement. If you make a stupid claim, I will mock you and continue to mock you. If you make a discovery that is world changing, I will herald you from the top of the highest mountain I can climb.

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