March 11, 2018
was a merger a couple of years ago between the Center For Inquiry
and the Richard Dawkins Foundation, retaining the former
organization's name but the latter's chief executive officer.
CEO is Robyn Blumner. She's been a lawyer, an activist, a
leader of major nonprofits, and for 16 years a nationally syndicated
columnist with the Tampa Bay Times.
December 2017, when it came time for CFI's fund drive, Ms. Blumner
included a form to be submitted with contributions.
asked how we had discovered the Center
For Inquiry and what issues now concerned us. So I
first encountered your organization many years ago, when Skeptical
Inquirer offered rational
explanations of such popular mysteries as UFO sightings
and the Bermuda Triangle.
continue to worry about anti-intellectualism.
Many Americans cling to what they were taught in Sunday school.
When elites and experts try to teach them
more modern findings about evolution and climate change and such,
they feel persecuted. At the Dover creationism trial in 2005,
Pastor Ray Mummert complained, We've been attacked by the
intelligent, educated segment of our culture.
Blumner took the time to reply to me, on Darwin Day no less.
I agree with you, she wrote, that dangerous
anti-intellectualism is running rampant in our country. It has
always been with us, but it seems ascendant right now. ...Your
generosity toward CFI is one reason we can stand against the Pastor
Mummerts of this world. Thank you for your ongoing support and
for taking the time to share your thoughts.
concluded those thoughts by confessing:
not sure I can do anything personally about this long-standing
difficulty, but I'm bringing it to the attention of the rest of the
committee planning my 50th anniversary reunion at Oberlin College.
also this later post on this
website. The previous month I had e-mailed the other members of
that committee, repeating some other thoughts I've posted here.
we're thinking about various issues, one that particularly bothers
me (because I majored in the sciences) is anti-intellectualism.
This is not a new problem in America.
founding principle is that all people are created equal. To
me, that means we all start out as infants with blank slates.
Some slates remain blank, or nearly so. Yet the lesser-educated
have developed what Isaac Asimov called the false notion that
my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.
Oberlin alumni do have knowledge, it wasn't handed to us because of
some pre-existing elite status. No, we studied. Others
may have chosen not to learn, lest they discover that some of their
cherished beliefs are wrong.
on the right adamantly reject the findings of recent scholarship
about evolution and climate change and trickle-down economics and
many other topics. At a hearing in 2010, Texas State Board of
Education member Don McLeroy cried, Someone has to stand up to experts!
conservatives resent institutions like Oberlin? Do they hate
our leftist professors for forcing their liberal conclusions down the
throats of the next generation? And if they do, how can we gain
more acceptance of those ideas?
example, Geno Smith of the New York Giants opined on February 24 (in
four different tweets): You can't serve two masters.
Science has done so many things for us as humans and I'm grateful
for it, but I believe in the Lord. [Nevertheless], as we know,
a lot of the truths that we thought were true actually aren't.
been studying this whole flat earth vs globe thing... and I think I
may be with Kyrie [Irving] on this... b4 you judge do some HW but
what do you guys think?
Thompson reacted: Before you judge do some
homework. Ah, man! Literally centuries of homework
done by some of the most important figures in the history of physics
to say nothing of, you know, observable phenomena and actual
images from space and Geno wants me to read some damn internet blogs.
Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, A subject is scientifically
controversial when actively debated by legions of scientists, not
when actively debated by the public, the press, or by politicians.
Eric D. Snider says, This is like when Fox News polls its
viewers on whether climate change is real, whether there is such a
thing as gravity, etc. There's an actual,
objectively correct answer to this question, but let's see how people feel.
G. Liebenguth of suburban Pittsburgh writes: In my
lifetime, I have witnessed a cultural change that has gone from
rejecting stupidity to tolerating it, then celebrating it and
consequently weaponizing it. For many years, the Republican
Party has successfully manipulated a large segment of the electorate
to vote against their interests by harnessing the forces of stupidity.
upon a time, critical tasks were thought to be best handled by
experts, not outsiders who could shake things up.
Intellectuals were revered, not chastised for being elitist.
Science and math were considered noncontroversial pillars of
truth. Now they are routinely questioned by emboldened average
Joes who make up their own facts.
emboldened average Joe is very opinionated, but he doesn't know what
he's talking about.
has simple answers that he believes will easily solve complex
problems. For example, profit-minded business executives have
convinced him that government shouldn't be run like a government
which it is but rather like a business which it
hates people who are different from himself or have different ideas.
He calls them demeaning names. He'd like to lock them up or
send them back where they came from.
wants a leader who thinks like he does and talks like he does,
pontificating, warning of huge conspiracies against him and his kind.
not informed conclusions have more value than Joe's fantasies?