I think I need a gin and tonic

First vent: I was quoted out of context twice this week, which bugged me. The first was no big deal; it was a brief newspaper article, and the point I was attempting to make was kind of complex and rambling and I didn’t express it very well, and in any case it was a nice article and there was no harm done.

The second time pissed me off, since the person used me to make a point that I actually completely agree with, and held me up as the very example of an attitude I despise. So today’s lesson for me: be very clear and precise in what you express and how you express it — and, indeed, taking someone’s words out of context to serve your own purpose can be a cheap rhetorical trick, so be sure not to do unto others what was, uh, done unto me.

Second vent: I’m not sure why resulting controversy/disagreement is supposed to be the mark of a great essay or, necessarily, even a very good one. (I am not attacking anyone’s essay in particular, merely stating a very VERY general point). I could write a very sloppy poorly-informed piece in this blog about why global warming is a real and dire threat, or why homosexuality is not something that can or should be ‘cured’, or why people should respect the separation of church and state and not force religious-specific beliefs such as creationism into public schools, or why pot and MDMA should be legalized. I’m sure any of these theses could stir up a great deal of disagreement and discussion, but the intelligence of that discussion would reflect much more on the nature of the people involved.

Third vent: Why does science have to be disparaged as something that leeches the wonder out of everything? There’s a wonderful quote by Richard Feynman about how he, as a scientist, deepened his awe and wonder and appreciation of a rose through understanding the sheer biological mechanics of it — that the very life of a thing possesses majesty and wonder on its own terms (and demands respect and compassion). I myself am not a scientist — I’m more the artsy type who skipped way too many math and science classes in high school and so barely understands how anything works — but living in Silicon Valley for six years and seeing the genius and creativity at work there — at play there — as well as the passion and childlike joy of scientists and engineers who are doing what they love, making and building things, exploring and learning things, seeking to do nothing less than enrich and advance humanity (such as my own genius husband) — admittedly changed me.

I do believe that science and art and faith can co-exist; none of these things is capable of building an entire world on its own, or answering to all of humanity’s needs. The human experience is much too rich, varied, multidimensional. But the danger is not that science, logic and reason will eat away at the meaning and beauty of things; the danger is that the desire to believe a certain way (and force others to do the same) will suppress or pervert the process of knowledge itself, reducing something like the scientific method to “just another opinion”. That way lies not beauty, but the Dark Ages (and possibly, in the case of global warming, extreme coastal flooding followed by another ice age, although I rather hope not).


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