John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Information without knowledge
From page 8: “The rise of Idiot America today reflects—for profit, mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage in the pursuit of power—the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know best what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert."
In my own parochial way, I said something similar earlier this year in a post, “Crisis of authority.” But Mr. Pierce makes the point more forcibly and more entertainingly: America “is drowning in information and thirsty for knowledge” and suffering from “lazy, pulpy tolerance for risible ideas.”
If you are curious about these risible ideas, his introduction describes a visit to the Creation Museum in Hebron, Kentucky, where visitors can marvel at a model of a dinosaur wearing an English saddle — since, of course, human beings and dinosaurs were contemporaneous when the world began in 4004 B.C.
Expect a fuller report once I finish the book.