Saturday, January 19, 2013

Question Authority

You know the Authority Song by John Mellencamp?  It's a catchy tune and I sing along with it gleefully whenever it comes on the radio, "When I fight authority, authority always wins."

I like the guy, but what a sap eh?  Always???  You're not fighting hard enough John, your win/lose ratio should be slightly more balanced.

Authority was created to be questioned, bucking the rules is a human condition and a very proud American tradition.  I mean, we would not even exist as a nation if a bunch of malcontents did not question authority, did not fight authority and did not win.

But they did fight and they did win, so now I have the luxury - nay, RIGHT - to sit here every morning and speak my mind freely.  Thank you to the malcontents, I toil in your honor every day and do my level best to honor the example you set.

I have a new favorite show called America Unearthed over on H2 Friday nights.  Scott Wolter is the host, he is an archaeologist by trade and a questioner by nature.  A kindred spirit.  He owned me within the first few minutes of the show, he owned me when he said that most of the things we know about American history are wrong.

My issue with a large portion of the scientific community is the hubris, medical doctors are especially prone to it, but I see that smugness everywhere in all branches of science.  Just because you know some things, does not mean you know all the things and unless you are always willing to be wrong, you will never be right.

Being willing to be wrong simply means acknowledging that you are fallible, that your judgements may not be correct and that you make mistakes.  If you are not always willing to be wrong, then you fall into the trap of not seeing the possibilities.  Once your mind is closed off to the possibilities, then no real science can happen and you become a pompous joke.

What gets me is how often accepted historical or scientific fact is proven wrong and that the scientists STILL hold on so tightly to their other accepted facts.  How many fourth graders in the 20th century saw the map of the world and pointed out to their teachers that South America and Africa used to be the same chunk of land?  I remember my fourth grade teacher telling me that I was wrong, foolish and wasting her time with such flights of fancy.

And then someone discovered plate tectonics and all the fourth graders should have gotten the freakin' Nobel prize.  Or what about the centuries of sailors who claimed that their ships were capsized by waves of unusual size that came out of nowhere.  For centuries the scientist called all those sailors drunken fools and ignored them, now I watch entire programs devoted to rogue waves and how they capsize ships.

Scott Wolter is not afraid to be wrong, being wrong is a huge part of his process, it is a huge part of everyone's process because we learn far more from our wrongs than our rights.  He wants the cool answers, he really does, but he is not willing to put aside all his questions just because he found one sexy answer.  I admire that so I will keep watching because it is not the answers that I seek, it is the questions.  It is always the questions.

So I question authority, we all should if only to keep authority on it's toes and from getting too complacent. Be wrong and embrace the wrong for the gifts it brings, be wrong and be human, it's ok.

Here is my wild scientific theory for the day:  I think Sasquatches are real, I believe in bigfoot and all those stories.  I think no one has found a Sasquatch because people keep looking on the ground for an ape and why would a group of apes seek shelter in densely wooded areas just to live on the ground??  They are apes, in trees, so look up dumbasses, not down.

That's my theory and I am happy to be wrong about it.

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