The worst that can happen is we can all die in the food riots!

One of the great themes in the world’s troubles is the tension — the war, really — between education and ignorance, between reason and superstition. The stakes are high.

Unfortunately, there is little hope that this tension can be resolved. Science is fundamentally an elitist endeavour by nature, and the major PR problem that science has with the uneducated and ideologically blinkered is only going to get worse.

The scientific community will never, in general, learn to speak the language of the unscientific. It is a worthy goal, always to be encouraged, but extremely difficult at best. Effective science popularization will probably always be the exclusive domain of a few talented scientists and journalists — I bust my ass trying to be one of the latter — and there will always be a huge unreachable audience of people who are not just ignorant but actually hostile to all promotion of science and skepticism. Remember, we live in a world where anti-scientific propaganda is literally institutionalized on a large scale!

I don’t believe that this will change. It will remain dire. But I don’t despair, either. What’s the point? There’s work to do and fun to be had and “there is so much to learn, there is not a second to lose” (Courtenay, Power of One). And my cynicism might be wrong. So I barge forward as gamely as I can.

The worst that can happen is we can all die in the food riots! Merry Christmas.