Jan 112018
 

The Know Ledge

At what point does it become necessary to actually “know” things about certain issues or topics? When is it ok just to leave the details to the “experts“? It’s a practical question that is fundamentally based on individual responsibility.

It is also a question that has bedeviled Professor Christopher Essex, theoretical physicist and mathematician with the Department of Applied Mathematics at Western University. As one of the pioneers of climate change computer modeling, his skepticism about the political climate that has arisen around this field of study has fallen mostly on deaf ears.

Understandably, when it comes to the details of science and technology, most people will defer to the experts. But there comes a point when leaving it to the experts may in fact be quite detrimental to those affected.

Having reached the point at which the responsibility to know falls squarely on those who need to know, a decision must be made. Shall we continue to rely on opinions and “expertise” that does not seem to be consistent or realistic, or shall we finally take the leap from the ledge of ignorance and embrace the technicalities of knowledge?

In examining these questions, Professor Essex insists that “technicalities matter,” and “must be respected in public decision making.” Should we fail to do so, the very fabric of our democracy will be at peril, he warns

Politics and science are two entirely different fields of knowledge, and within their respective domains, each are valid to the degree that they coincide with reality and reason. As Professor Essex points out, there is invariant knowledge, ephemeral knowledge, valid knowledge, and of course, “knowledge” about things that “just ain’t so.”

The Devil may be in the details, but so is the God of the Machine, as nature’s technicalities cannot be evaded or avoided, whether scientific or democratic.

It’s Just Right to understand that “technicalities” do indeed matter, for without taking them into consideration, mankind’s progress can never be pointed in the right direction.

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