I just learned a new phrase from Michael Shermer's "Skeptic" column in Scientific American. The phrase is Japanese: "Baka ni tsukeru ku suri wa nai" translated, There is no cure for stupidity. It is true! An entire industry -advertising- is built on taking advantage of that. OK, not every advertisement is big fat lie taking advantage of stupid people, but you'll find that even to move a product with real value, advertisers have to use the principles of the psychology of the masses. Shermer's article this month talks about Kevin Trudeau's new book about natural cures. Kevin is the quintessential advertising expert. He knows that people will buy a book that tells them there is a conspiracy against them and powerful people who studied science are really no smarter than them. Apparently one of the things Kevin says in the book is that we would be surprised at how motivating power and money are. Quite a cute twist.
The point I'm worrying about is that people really enjoy hearing that science doesn't and scientists don't really know any more than the quacks that come up with the cures in Kevin's book. As a society we have quite a bad attitude about those evil people that went to the trouble to learn and get an education. Those evil monsters actually dare to question our societies actions, beliefs and norms. Evil science geeks should have just stayed home and watched sit coms with the rest of us, then they'd be normal.
Without a major shift in our attitudes toward knowledge, we are destined to lose our place as a world power.