Friday, June 1, 2012

Ignorance, Knowledge, Democracy

Isaac Asimov
Panderbear grew up reading a lot of science and science fiction, much of it written by the prolific author Isaac Asimov. His work, as much as any other single factor, was responsible for Panderbear's early interest in science and ultimately his career in physics and computer science.

Asimov said, “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” Panderbear only recently became aware of this quote, but its lesson had long ago penetrated his psyche through reading Asimov's many novels.

Asimov reminds us that along with the democratic right to vote comes the responsibility to be a sufficiently informed member of the electorate to make wise choices regarding candidates and public policy. As Panderbear quoted in Ignorant and Free Thomas Jefferson said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Jefferson also said, ". . . whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that, whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them right."

Whether we listen to Isaac Asimov or Thomas Jefferson the lesson is clear. Voting based on uninformed or emotion-based bias is an abdication of our responsibility as U.S. citizens. It also makes us easy targets for pandering politicians. If you are going to vote, take the time to learn the facts. If you do not take the the time to get informed, please don't vote. You'll just make things worse.

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