I could easily write eight to ten, 5,000-word blog-posts explaining to my readers extensively and factually why many/most modern Texans are stubbornly, ferociously audaciously proud to be from Texas or to be a born-n-bread Texan. Foreigners on other continents may not be aware of how many Americans in other states basically know or know all too well how very boastful modern Texans can be. Since the advent of radio, TV broadcasting, and the internet we Texans have built-up for better or worse—frequently worse in my opinion—a national, if not international, reputation of having large things in Texas. It is true. There is no shortage of BIG in the “Lone Star State.”
I for one, as an 8th-generation Texan, am often sickened and nauseated by this “big” attitude. It is audacious self-promotion. And here is the BIG reason why I feel this way.
A bit of Texas history about one of its earliest flags. In my header above the flag on the left is a well-known and long taught highlight in Texas schools’ Social Studies classes between 4th-grade and 12th-grade. The spirit of that independent rebellion against Mexico, before being annexed by the United States only a few years later, represents how BIG Texans boast of their freedoms and liberties, even against Washington D.C. and a liberal United States. But calm down, don’t worry, the history of our long embedded (or inbred?) arrogance is for another later five or ten blog-posts. (wink)
In my local newspaper The Dallas Morning News, they reported yesterday how Dallas residents, as well as the DFW Metroplex are contributing to slowing or “Flattening the Curve” and eventually stopping the deadly COVID-19 pandemic:
What happens when a percentage of the population ignores government lockdown decrees or pleas for social distancing?
“It’s true that under normal circumstances, you’ll have a lot of people who are resistant to government dictates and control,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. “Under emergency conditions, those people become dangerous.”
“But if you have people who are talking about a ‘deep state,’ or socialism or a government takeover — while we’re trying to cobble together from the local level to the national level a response to an absolutely unprecedented pandemic — those people are not just foolish,” Jillson said. “They are dangerous.”
Government leaders have to “be as straightforward and direct and truthful as possible with the American public,” Jillson said. “So that the 90 percent of the public that is reasonable can rally to those instructions and bend the curve on this virus.”
White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 – image by Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer
I must be fair, however, about over-generalizing and faulty identification of who is “Texan.”
Since 1963 and more so the last decade and a half Texas has been one of the fastest growing populated states in the country: currently #2 in GDP and #4 in economy size. This means over the last decade or so many currently living in Texas were not born here. Because of three attractive, compelling reasons non-Texans move here or have recently moved here years ago. Those are 1) many new corporate businesses move and headquarter here, i.e. jobs, 2) no state income tax, and 3) cheaper housing by national comparisons. The point being that anyone living here who wasn’t born here are obviously not natural Texans. Consequently, I shouldn’t include those non-Texans in our long history and why we are so audaciously, arrogantly proud, right? Yet, in the big picture of our current world-wide, deadly pandemic, where one was born or how many multiple generations preceded you here is irrelevant. Or is it?
Despite the measures, the city received at least 853 calls about large gatherings in the past week. According to the mayor’s office Tuesday, authorities gave out 150 violation notices, which are similar to warnings before a citation is issued.
The U.S. Surgeon General warned Monday that rebels and scofflaws of social distancing put their fellow Americans at risk.
“I want America to understand — this week, it’s going to get bad,” Dr. Jerome Adams said on NBC’s Today show, denouncing those not obeying social distancing guidelines.
“This is how the spread is occurring,” Adams said.
Any rational, well-educated person with a solid grasp of medical sciences in microbiology, virology, methods of airborne infectious diseases, and how highly contagious those are shown repeatedly throughout humanity’s post-classical and modern history, would ask and should ask these flouting rebels, skeptics, and deniers What the F*CK are you doing and thinking!? Apparently they’ve forgotten or ignored America’s 1918-1920 Swine Flu or Spanish Flu that was also an airborne, highly contagious virus like COVID-19 and in one single month killed 200,000 Americans. In the end, it claimed 675,000 Americans and an estimated 50-million world-wide. Perhaps our President should keep mentioning those 50-million victims of “The American Virus” in his press conferences? Pompous Texans should too.
Why are so many Texans ignoring the factual, confirmed histories of deadly, fast-spreading pandemics? Did those preceding generations of your Texas family not pass down the horrendous details or show you the actual death-certificates from your family tree?
Outdoor concerts and festivals are banned in most locations. And those restrictions weren’t sitting well with Rev. Horton Heat, a popular Dallas-based rockabilly band, which posted a livid message on its Facebook page about a week ago.
“Reverend Horton Heat is NOT cancelling ANY gigs because of COVID-19.”
The band made it clear that it wasn’t their call to cancel its gigs, and encouraged fans to “push back,” in a post trumpeted on its Facebook page.
“I encourage everyone who lives in a jurisdiction where local governments are restricting rock and roll to push back,” the band said. “Write emails and call your local government agencies to remind them that we have the right to assembly. They can’t stop rock and roll!”
Co-founder and current member Jim “Reverend Horton” Heath guitarist and lead vocal of the band is a native-born Texan. He does indeed represent that audacious, arrogant historical Texas rebel pride.
But it isn’t just three-generation, five-generation, or six-generation native Texans flouting their rebel disobedience to county and state authority, it is even our Lt. Governor Dan Patrick as well, who like all of the Bush’s is not a native-born Texan!
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick agreed, saying Monday the country should go back to work, suggesting “grandparents” like him, who are at higher risk of contracting severe cases of COVID-19, should sacrifice to keep the country out of economic trouble.
“My message is that ‘Let’s get back to work. Let’s get back to living. Let’s be smart about it,’” Patrick told Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “And those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”
I am both stunned by the medical-virological ignorance and denial here, and yet at the same time not too surprised by many fellow Texans showing off their cockiness in the face of ‘too much government intrusion,’ a popular opinion over the decades by most established Texas families and businesses making up this Red-state.
There are factual data-sets in several parts of the world—not just in New Orleans, Louisiana—supporting those restrictions ordered by government leaders listening to and heeding epidemiologist’s desperate warnings and admonishments to why it is critical to social-distance as well as follow all washing, disinfecting protocols while at home. As reported by Sky News yesterday, this is what happens when citizens, businesses, entertainers, and governments do NOT take epidemiological science serious. The headline: Coronavirus: Champions League match a ‘biological bomb’ that infected Bergamo, experts say.
That match was between Italian club Atalanta and Spanish club Valencia. As a result, not only did Italy become the epicenter of COVID-19 infections and deaths, but Spain is now experiencing the same and soon will catch Italy’s mortality rates. The Sky News article goes on:
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t have known. No one knew the virus was already here. It was inevitable.”
More than 7,500 people have died after contracting coronavirus in Italy, where there are more than 74,000 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University.
More than 650 people have died in the last 24 hours in Spain, taking the total past 4,000.
Cases there rose by more than 8000, bringing the total to more than 50,000.
To the overly proud rebels, skeptics, and deniers in Texas by Texans, if you don’t care to believe the actual medical data, science and virology, or the long repeated world history of known pandemics and the hundreds of thousands of deaths from plagues, or how highly contagious and lethal airborne flu viruses are then perhaps it will only take the death of an immediate family member, perhaps your own child or parent, to wake you up to reality. Why even risk it? Why… when by all your rebellious behavior all of you could easily cause are hospitals overflowing beyond capacity, the supplies and medical items which raise your safety and your loved ones’ safety… run out? Or the oxygen-breathing machines to fight the deadly pneumonia from COVID-19 are all in use and no longer available for yourself, your children, or parent like many are experiencing right now in Italy and Spain? Why?
Why chance it? To prove what a proud, independent, Come Take It From Me, cocky native Texan you are? How would that epitaph look on your gravestone or your 8-year old child’s or one of your siblings? There quickly comes a point when self-absorbed ignorance and pride can never outweigh a loved one’s life, premature life when you were informed in time of avoiding it. Imagine that regret for the rest of your life.
In this extraordinary life we find ourselves and on this endlessly mysterious, riveting, and dazzling planet we call home, we can often recognize similarities, patterns between different events, different objects, different species and humans if we observe closely in earnest. If we observe it equitably and honestly.
For example, the musket or flintlock, as Wikipedia explains, “is a muzzle-loaded, smoothbore long gun that appeared in early 16th century Europe, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating heavy armor.“ For some time the musket was the common weapon in use. Other than cannons and mortars they served pretty well their intended designed purpose. However, by the time the 19th-century approached they were quickly becoming obsolete. Their rate-of-fire simply could not keep up with repeating rifles, followed decades later by the faster, more sophisticated, more lethal machine guns. The musket had become a dinosaur on the fields of battle.
The machine gun, unlike the antiquated slow-loaded musket, could fire at a rate of 300 rounds per minute or higher. During World War II Mauser Werke manufactured one of the most feared machine guns Allied forces had ever faced to date, the MG-42 which could fire an average of 1,200 rounds per minute. For the two World Wars and beyond, the machine gun completely revolutionized modern warfare and tactics.
And then BOOM, it hit me! This history is also profoundly representative of another dynamic, another similar relationship.
Men’s penises and their performance are just like muskets! They are pretty much single fire until “hours” later, muzzle-loaded after some gun-powder (air-pumping? surgery? drugs?), and unless updated or refined, kept impeccably (not pecker you pervs!) maintained, then highly and properly trained, they are pretty much outdated, limp, and with a very shitty rate-of-fire.
Women’s sexual organs are quite sophisticated, quite advanced, with more than one arousal-barrel/spot and have a most IMPRESSIVE (and lethal?) rate-of-fire. Women are truly a beautiful work of art (not machinery) that honestly puts us musket-carrying Neanderthals to shame. There’s simply no denying it gentlemen. Sorry. This is why they are truly Earth’s most mesmerizing, most needed creatures. And looking back over history and how utterly crappy we males have progressed and developed, the women deserve so much MORE than just equality and unfettered respect.
Besides, guys… come on! We have muskets, they have machine guns for f*ck sake. 🙄
Live Well — Love Much — Respect Her Lethality — Laugh Often — Learn Always
I must confess that four months ago when I chose to tackle this subject and new field of study for a blog-post or two—that turned out to be four—I had little idea it would be so laborious and challenging for me. Not only was it formidable over time, but it was equally demanding of quality representation, of which I feel I have failed or sacrificed in some ways. For that I apologize. I likely bit-off much more than I could chew. And though my current personal situation has made my time reading, researching, blog drafting, blog writing, and publishing difficult and quite limited, I do hope this conclusion is sufficient enough to glean from the whole, some expansion on a little known, little taught or discussed subject: ignorance. If nothing else, I hope these four parts have invoked a deep curiosity to learn and know more about what we don’t know, for it is great, it is endless, and paradoxically attainable.
∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼
Previously in Part III, I examined the colorful ways we fabricate facts, or our conscious intentional lying, and how to discern and reveal their motives and utilization. I also covered how North and South American indigenous fossil knowledge and their worlds became lost or entirely omitted from Euro-American archaeological records. Then finished with how to understand the benefits and advantages of historical-interdisciplinary hindsight. In doing so this groundwork offers a comprehensive, enlarged intellectual body of reliable context as well as a necessary reversal of or counter to explicit and implicit ignorance in the U.S.
In this conclusion I want to very briefly touch on white, or Anglo/Caucasian ignorance, explore the social theorems of ignorance, and then ask Where are America’s public intellectuals, who might they be, and why today are they few and far between? and provide plausible answers. Let’s jump right in. (line break)
A few summers back as my two kids, my Mom, and my sister and I were seated around the dinner table, the discussion turned to American history, a subject that mostly interested my 15-year old son, but usually made my 22-year old daughter, Mom, and sister roll their eyes. When I made my point that our nation’s White House, the Capitol building, and some other government buildings were built by African-American slaves, I got facial expressions of pause, silence, and astonishment. Their faces said it all. As a state certified educator in Texas, I was not surprised by their baffled, yet silent responses. This tidbit of historical fact and its implications generally does not make it into state-approved classroom textbooks nor is it required by the state’s core-curriculum as critical learning. Thus, we have a classic case of anglo-caucasian (white) ignorance. I rather like this introduction…
White ignorance… It’s a big subject. How much time do you have? It’s not enough. Ignorance is usually thought of as the passive obverse to knowledge, the darkness retreating before the spread of Enlightenment. But… Imagine an ignorance that resists. Imagine an ignorance that fights back. Imagine an ignorance militant, aggressive, not to be intimidated, an ignorance that is active, dynamic, that refuses to go quietly— not at all confined to the illiterate and uneducated but propagated at the highest levels of the land, indeed presenting itself unblushingly as knowledge. — Charles W. Mills
Professor of philosophy at the City University of New York, Dr. Charles W. Mills believes by clarifying and demarcating historical white domination and its ramifications, as well as examining the individual and social processes of cognition with regard to race, we can start to understand how best to achieve multiracial enlightenment that garners short-, mid-, and long-term benefits not just for a few, but for all humanity.
White Domination & Ramifications Dr. Mills finds ten components to clarification and demarcation. I will point out four I find particularly important.
Race as a cognitive phenomena historized — white domination has been and still is a social-structure, not a physio-biological structure. “Whites” did not exist in the ancient world.
Leaving white paradigms — “White” in white ignorance doesn’t need to be confined to just white people. To a greater or lesser extent this has existed due to power relations and patterns of ideological hegemony.
Male ignorance — ignorance of the male gender must be analyzed equally as it is far more ancient, going back to the very origins of patriarchy.
Avoiding false beliefs — gaining a broader understanding of white ignorance is not only sociological, but normative too. Flawed patterns of cognition are promoted or propagandized by certain social models and group membership as are truthful-moral ones.
Individual & Social Processes of Cognition Before getting into Dr. Mills’ work below, watch this 6-minute video. It is a prime example of Memory and Testimonydiscussed below and how to incorporate it into social cognition:
An examination of white supremacy and its historical dominance, injustice, and ignorance cannot be done without understanding the influences of individual and social processes of cognition. Separating out these various components can be demanding for they are in perpetual interaction with each other. For example, when an individual discerns, they do so with sensors that have been socialized. Keeping this in mind, Dr. Mills analyzes five dynamics that I will summarize:
Perception— in general, perceptions and conceptions are practically one in the same, so tightly related that often they’re indistinguishable. Individuals do not create these categories, we absorb them from our cultural contexts. Two prime examples are the world’s continents, they’re sizes, and the term savages and its origin and context. They beg the questions, Why is Europe a continent and say India or Eurasia are not? And savage originated from Anglo-French cultures in the 13th century, the Age of Exploration and Colonization by European superpowers, and implies a person/people of uncivilized, primitive, dumb behavior and inferior to the designator(s). Why is this context assigned to savage? Does it justify imperialism, conquest, and domination? The context of savage continued into the 18th century and found its way into one of our most enduring U.S. documents:
When Thomas Jefferson excoriates the “merciless Indian Savages” in the Declaration of Independence, then, neither he nor his readers will experience any cognitive dissonance with the earlier claims about the equality of all “men,” since savages are not “men” in the full sense. Locked in a different temporality, incapable of self-regulation by morality and law, they are humanoid but not human. — Charles W. Mills
Conception— this aligns us to our known world. The unknown world, however, is assessed and judged not with the discreetly detached concept, but viewed and judged through the concept. Very rarely does an individual resist this societal bias. And here is the baffling irony of this egocentric, white-centric condition which surrounds the word savage:
In the classic period of European expansionism, it then becomes possible to speak with no sense of absurdity of “empty” lands that are actually teeming with millions of people, of “discovering” countries whose inhabitants already exist, because the non-white Other is so located in the guiding conceptual array that different rules apply. Even seemingly straightforward empirical perception will be affected—the myth of a nation of hunters in contradiction to widespread Native American agriculture that saved the English [e.g. Jamestown] colonists’ lives, the myth of stateless savages in contradiction to forms of government from which the white Founders arguably learned, the myth of a pristine wilderness in contradiction to a humanized landscape transformed by thousands of years of labor (Jennings 1976). In all of these cases, the concept is driving the perception, with whites aprioristically intent on denying what is before them. — Charles W. Mills
Memory— it is sadly ironic that as I get to memory of the individual and/or social cognitive process that events such as those in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 12th occurred. It reiterates just how crucial it is to understand the fluid interconnectedness of these five components, including memory, and how it relates to white knowing and unknowing due to denial of requisite facts. While understanding collective memory, we must also understand collective amnesia. They always go hand-in-hand. We remember the Holocaust primarily because Hitler and Nazi Germany lost the war. But what about the Pequots, the Nama, the Tasmanians, the Beothuks, the Congolese, the Hereros, or the Armenians? What about the Native American Cherokees or any of the over 200 tribes on the continent? What about 19th century antebellum slavery, killing rebellions such as Nat Turner’s, and the atrocities throughout the American Civil War? Today, over seven generations later, Americans still confront their historical identity and memory over the Standing Rock Reservation oil-pipeline and Charlottesville, VA over a Robert E. Lee statue and what it means.
As the individual represses unhappy or embarrassing memories, that may also reveal a great deal about[their]identity, about who[they are], so in all societies, especially those structured by domination, the socially recollecting “we” will be divided, and the selection will be guided by different identities, with one group suppressing precisely what another wishes to commemorate. Thus there will be both official and counter-memory, with conflicting judgments about what is important in the past and what is unimportant, what happened and does matter, what happened and does not matter, and what did not happen at all. — Charles W. Mills
Testimony— How do you know your exact birth date? Your knowledge of your birthday is most certainly told to you by those there in the delivery room, your mother and father, and perhaps doctors and/or nurses there at the time. Hence, your beliefs about your birth time, place, month, and year are through testimony. We are quite dependent on others for what we know and this most certainly involves elaborations of social epistemology. Those elaborations also come from other previous individual and social epistemic elaborations and so on. In cases of veracity and neutrality, it bears significant impact to ask ‘testimony by whom and for what (possible) interests gained or lost?‘
Motivational Group Interests — these can be found in varying strengths with any political, religious, economic, and/or sports groups with common interests. What these sorts of groups demonstrate are what is commonly known in cognitive, developmental, social, clinical, and neuropsychology as hot cognition (as opposed to cold/unemotional) associated with physiological arousal responding more to environmental stimuli. Peer-assimilation is another aspect of hot cognition. This certainly applies to racial grouping and “color-blindness” as well.
Though he speaks primarily on the African-American plight in the U.S., in this following video-clip Harvard University Fellow and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky talks about white domination and racism from the historical record. This really applies to all non-whites in America and the world, does it not?
Social Theorems of Ignorance
Is ignorance simply the absence of knowledge? The sum of society’s ignorance is much greater than the sum of our knowledge. Yet, how much do we really know about social or collective ignorance? Where does social-collective ignorance come from? How much do we impose it upon someone or upon ourselves? What role does social-collective ignorance play in interactions, group relations, in institutions, in civil, business, and criminal law, and managing risks? Typically our societal norms give negative connotations to ignorance, but when might it be preferrable not to know something? Can it be a virtue?
Dr. Michael Smithson, Professor of Psychology at the Australian National University, has been working in the area of uncertainty and ignorance for many years. He takes an interdisciplinary approach to socially produced uncertainty and ignorance and believes one must begin with defining what social ignorance is and is not.
Socially Produced Ignorance: What It Is and Isn’t Social ignorance is 1) emerging, it is 2) partially constructed by society, and it is 3) imposed. It is manipulated deliberately or as a by-product of some social movement or process. It is also typically at a macro-level of large groups within power relations. As far as how kinetic ignorance is managed(4) it is typically at the micro-level with individuals and how those individuals conceptualize, represent, negotiate, and respond to ignorance. Thus, the managing agent is often indirect or as a spectator concerning the thinking and behavior of ignorance. These are four theorems of social ignorance.
Social ignorance is not the external world and how it arises in non-social settings. For example, the non-social settings would be science and the limits of science. It also includes epistemological and religious frameworks that make assertions about non-knowledge or meta-knowledge in exogenous non-social terms. It is not a managingunder kinetic ignorance either. In other words, how people/groups think and act in uncertain environments, and not artificially generated under theory.
Negotiated Ignorances There are at least five different negotiated ignorances between social (or at least interpersonal) arrangements of ignorance. A sixth could be time, or the lack of time, to adequately understand dynamics of an event, place, or person, but for the sake of time (no pun intended), I will very briefly cover these five:
Specialization — is simply an admittance there is too much for any one person to learn everything exhaustively. Hence, spreading the perceived risks can be achieved in three ways: 1) diversified learning rather than direct or narrowed learning, 2) therefore, concurrently diversified ignorance is created, and 3) acquired knowledge is also diversified via social collaboration.
Privacy — another social ignorance arrangement which is not necessarily controlled access to information by others about self, but can also be consensual with trusted persons or experts. Secrecy is imposed unilaterally, but privacy involves levels of risk. And trust is interconnected within organized specialization.
Trust — is a state of perceived vulnerability or risk. Dr. Smithson (on Yamagishi) elaborates:
“[Toshio]Yamagishi and his colleagues argue that trust and “commitment formation” are alternative ways of reducing the risk of being exploited in social interactions. Commitment formation involves the development of mutual monitoring and powers to sanction and reward each other’s behavior. However, the reduction of transaction costs in commitment formation via uncertainty reduction comes at a price, namely the difficulty and costliness in exiting from the relationship and foregoing opportunities to form other relationships. Trust, on the other hand, entails running the risk of being exploited but increases opportunities by rendering the truster more mobile and able to establish cooperative relations more quickly. Trust, therefore, is both an example of a social relation that requires tolerance of ignorance and also trades undesired uncertainty (the risk of being exploited) against desired uncertainty (freedom to seize opportunities for new relations).”
Politeness — is another example of how social relations trade on ignorance. Within formal public conversations people typically don’t expect to first place their hand on a bible and state “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The strategies a talker may utilize are varied in creating disinformation, e.g. promoting a false impression of approval, or agreement, or offer tactful brevity, vagueness, or ambiguity. However, this latter strategy is not always negative because it could nurture healthy adaptability or change due to diverse interpretations.
Legitimation— social ignorance is also used in a number of facades to vindicate inaction, keeping the status quo (also known as business as usual), opportunism, evasion of responsibility or liability, and risk management strategies. Our American legal differences between civil cases versus criminal cases, as one example, are where a verdict in the former can be given on probabilities and in the latter it must be given “beyond reasonable doubt.“
“Licit” actions and choices done on the basis of social ignorance are abundant in our mundane life as well. As previously discussed in this series, legitimizing high-level federal policy change, or non-change, use (abuse?) the precautionary principle, e.g. climate change counter-measures.
Is Social Ignorance Always An Insight-Deficit? Contrary to popular belief, ignoramuses are not always at a disadvantage. There are cases where they are better off than very knowledgeable people. Case and point, if you could be told exactly when and how you were going to die, would you want to know? Why or why not? Would you want your spouse and children to know the details of your death? Why or why not? Often in the field of counseling where doctor-patient confidentiality existed, I found myself in the position of aiding social ignorance between spouses, family members, employers or a circle of friends for legitimate reasons, e.g. one spouse’s history of unfaithfulness, in order to maintain necessary therapeutic stability. Many spouses/partners don’t care to know intimate details of former lovers/spouses. Dr. Lael Schooler and Ralph Hertwig, both of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, assert from their research that forgetting facilitates the use of inferential heuristics that also trade on environmental structures.
What I hope has been adequately conveyed here is that ignorance, particularly social ignorance, is quite prevalent. It exists practically everywhere, including with yourself. It is predominantly socially structured. Accordingly, it deserves as much attention, monitoring, and updating as one’s repository of knowledge. This, our social and individual human ignorance-condition, I hope would conflate wise, cunning humility and not inflated arrogance. Therefore, how might we as social parts of a whole get regular checkups, quarterly or annual appraisals of our cunning humility and/or inflated arrogance? Glad you asked!
America’s Public Intellectuals – Questions
What does intellectualism mean? After this four-part series, is it possible for intellectualism to thrive and coexist with ignorance? Should that even be questioned? Can intellectualism guide ignorance and ignorance guide intellectualism offering more balance, more tolerance? In our modern age of technology and data-overload, are we too knowledgeable, too informed?
Today, we are not necessarily uninformed, but so over-informed it forces our cognitive capacities to seek out preferable trigger-topics and information that bolster our own perspective. That is most certainly a self-imposed ignorance and to degrees social ignorance. On the aforementioned section of social ignorance, sociologists define that as a neo-tribalism tagged with near-fanatical insistence on cohesion and monism in a world, its Nature and fauna that is anything but monistic or binary. Within this neo-tribalism, humans — perhaps just advanced primates at this point? — historically have resorted to bullying and moral castigation to keep their own status quo. But at what cost? Many public intellectuals agree: the egghead is dead, replaced by chest-beating activists. That may be true.
If our nation’s Founding Fathers were alive today, they would almost certainly be distraught and aghast at the loud polarity and lack of common interests. This isn’t to say those members of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, lasting a miserable 116 steamy days and nights, did not have their heated differences. Indeed they did. However, those resilient intellectuals mixed daily with their communities and adversaries; they had no choice really but to learn basic etiquette, tolerance, compromise, and mutual understanding and do it face-to-face. Those differences, conflicts, and resolutions took enormous amounts of highly skilled dialogue, negotiation, candor, and listening as they did expressing.
Fortunately, our modern intellectuals are still around, as seen in the Stargazer’s Guide image, as well as several of their interdisciplinary colleagues I’ve included throughout this four-part series. They too could easily be included on the map in their respective fields. Perhaps they are not as recognizable or accessible today because technology is increasingly finding intrusive ways to get in front of our faces and into our schedules, not weekly or daily, but hourly! Too much information-knowledge is just as bad for us individually — and potentially within a social framework of influence — as ignorance is because covertly hyper-knowledge fosters more risks that would otherwise be spread-out, diversified to minimize risks or learning-bankruptcy.
The difference between intellectualism (knowledge) then in 1787 and now (over-knowledge), as I personally see it, is that whether opposing sides embrace it or not, we know a lot less than we think we do (ignorance). Arrogance with power is the chief combatant of agnotology and collaborative progress. To remain stagnant in current knowledge without diversifying and going into the darkness of ignorance and where it leads is to risk terminal illness at the hands of Nature, predatory Nature to be specific. That assured apathy (that all is known) will be especially lethal if we do not recognize, with no exceptions, that ignorance is an equal or greater dichotomy. An egalitarian dichotomy not to be feared, but merely appreciated, explored further, confronted if necessary, and thus made more commonly defined, inclusive of both individual and social frameworks.
(paragraph break) Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always