The age of foolishness

A key change in the ‘new way of doing things’ is a wholesale substitution of externally-imposed rules for personal judgement and common sense. This is not so much a tyranny by the arbitrarily powerful as an abdication of responsibility in which we all are complicit.

This dutiful subservience to rules gives us a seductive excuse for abandoning the immensely difficult task of building up and then maintaining throughout life a soundly-based personal understanding of the way the world works. This is particularly true in the fields of technology and science, which are now deemed by many, if not most people, to be too advanced and abstruse for non-specialists to even attempt to understand. Thus, at a time of unprecedented freedom of access to information we have the perverse phenomenon of people everywhere, and at all levels of society, actually making a virtue of ignorance. And in consequence we are seeing everywhere, and at all levels of  intelligence, the fatuous certainty which is normally characteristic of  the very stupid. Nowhere is this more starkly and terrifyingly apparent than in the organised denial of the science of evolution and climate change which has become the orthodoxy throughout the immensely powerful American Republican party.

It is my instinctive recognition of this looming problem – and heaven knows where it came from – that has underlain my opposition to the systematisation of professionalism (for example in the form of blind subservience to ‘Evidence Based Medicine‘) which has dominated my career and motivated me to write my two books, numerous articles, and to give so many ineffectual lectures.