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Turns out this shirt is really popular with engineers. Go figure. This was one the first of what I call "scientific joke" shirts that are proving to be a staple for me both here online and at shows. I consider it gratifying that we nerds are taking in being proud of having a greater than average IQ and an interest in what is happening in the world beyond what the Kardashians are doing.
It is funny to me how much easier it is to be a nerd than it used to be (here I go on my grumpy old man "when I was a kid nerd" rant). Someone who is a geek and good at science now takes pride in it and, to be honest, in a lot of circles is admired by the less intellectually endowed. Obviously we can thank great nerds like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates for a big chunk of it, but to be honest I think there is something darker going on.
You see, as our educational standards and abilities decline what I think is happening is the few people remaining who have the knowledge to do science are taking on the cultural role of magicians or shaman. Knowledge of what an electron is or how a computer chip actually works is so alien to the average American that is seems to be fitting into the slot that we used to reserve for Merlin and his ilk. The magic users of tomorrow are the scientists of today.
This raises an interesting question in my mind. Is it a requirement of the gestalt cultural mind that we must have some form of wise, powerful super human to guide us through our ignorance? Is there a need for the average human to believe in the words of people with arcane knowledge beyond their ken? We seem to be desperate for someone to believe in, be it a preacher, cult leader, politician, rock star, or snake oil salesmen. In spite of tremendous evidence to the contrary we seem inclined to cling onto the belief that some people are just better informed and therefore better able to make decisions than we are.
It's an interesting question, and actually bodes well for our future if scientists are morphing into that cultural zenith. At least the future cultural leaders of our society have a chance at being well informed and well educated. I think it extremely interesting that our faith in men of science seems to be increasing as our faith in our politicians is crumbling. I guess as we come to despise our politicians we must fill that faith void somewhere.
Or this could all be crap and it could simply be that we both respect and fear that which we don't understand. Either that or I am imaging this whole phenomenon in a desperate attempt to believe there is some form of rationality in the universe.
August 29th, 2012
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