Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. on Science, Knowledge and Wisdom

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., here is an extract from A testament of hope : the essential writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. / edited by James Melvin Washington, 1991.
“Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge, which is power; religion gives man wisdom, which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals.”  --p. 493
Dr. King goes on to expound on the dangers of "softmindedness" - of reaching a conclusion before examining the facts, of pre-judging, which is the basis of prejudicial thinking.  "Race prejudice is based on groundless fears, suspicions, and misunderstandings," writes King, and he underscores this with an examination of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.  Hitler knew that softmindedness could lead his followers to "believe that heaven is hell--and hell, heaven... the bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."

May this public inauguration day of President Barack Obama herald strengthening of scientific understanding among the general population, reasoning based on facts within the Congress, and leaders who exhibit both "toughmindedness" and "tenderheartedness," in the words of M.L. King, Jr.

[Texts originally from The Strength to Love, sermons written by King in 1963].

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Strange Science - a fun way to begin winter term

Strange Science - "the rocky road to modern paleontology and biology" - was recently reviewed by The Scout Report.  Thanks to their reviewer for highlighting this fun and informative site.  Once you settle in for Winter Term, enjoy some time exploring the site's content.  Many neat old illustrations show how science advances in fits and false starts, and reinforces the importance of creative thinking, careful observation and repetitive experimentation for improving scientific understanding.

This is especially telling:  "Penned in the 7th or 8th century, Liber Monstrorum warned readers at the outset that most of the stories it relayed were probably lies. Yet in the midst of tall tales and fabrications, increased travel led to the discoveries of very real elephants, anteaters, ostriches and apes. Believing too little could be as bad as believing too much." So enlighten and enliven your mind with a bit of fiction that might just inspire serious fact-finding.