Sunday Snippet: Isaac Asimov

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

Perhaps the biggest trouble with the modern political climate is it’s not the most logical or sound arguments that necessarily get heard. Instead, it’s the voice that is loudest and the best funded that gets heard.

In a sense, Isaac Asimov was ahead of his time when he provided the quote above. Some may say the quote is elitist in nature, but we must all recognize the dangers of collective ignorance. Just because everyone thinks a certain way or “knows” a certain “fact” doesn’t mean that the prevailing thought is accurate.

Yes, democracy means that every voice should be heard. At the same time, we also have to recognize that the real experts in their fields are experts for a reason. I don’t want world leaders to be “just like me.” I want them to be better than me. I don’t want policy makers to think just like me. I want them to be smarter and more knowledgable than me. I want them to have greater vision than me.

Believe it or not, your ignorance needs to be trumped by an expert’s knowledge. The intellectuals and the “geeks” have earned the louder voice. Let them be heard.

Perhaps the bigger irony here is that Asimov is best known for his science fiction works, but this quote very much demonstrates that he was grounded in reality. We may not want to get too caught up in intellectualism, as we can be paralyzed into inaction, but sound arguments need to prevail as they’re the best we have.