DAILY BRIEFING
Secular Fundamentalism

Dec. 11 - Joe Dimaggio announced his retirement from baseball on this date in 1951. I'm this close to announcing my retirement from poker, and probably would if it didn't seem superfluous: poker has clearly retired from me.

I'm posting a little late today because I got hung up trolling around the web to get caught up on the news. There's a lot of it—even some good news. (Even from Iraq!)

Courtesty of Arts & Letters Daily, which is a great site for daily links to interesting stuff, I stumbled across what instantly became my favorite essay of the day, week, month, and possibly even the year.

Seriously.

It's not technically an essay, I suppose, since it's actually a speech by Michael Crichton at the Commonwealth Club, given all the way back in September.

"The greatest challenge facing mankind," he says at the outset, "is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda."

Mr. Crichton is best known as the author of screenplay-ready science-speculation novels like The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park. As a scientist who's made millions off fantasy and myth, he seems well-placed to explore the sorry state of reason in an age of increasing religious mania.

But he's not aiming his rhetoric at cathedrals, temples, or mosques: instead, he's got his crosshairs on the new fundamentalism, in which bad science has become Good Faith—in which arguments like those about GMOs, environmental and energy policy, and population are treated not as urgent topics for scientific inquiry, but spiritual crusades. He sees emotion and imagination overwhelming science and reason, and he's troubled by the development.

There's an old Danish saying about unpopular advice:

"If you don't want to hear it, then you can feel it."

* * *

Today is National Holiday in Burkina Faso.

Teri Garr is 55 today. She shares her birthday with Rider Strong (1979), Jermaine Jackson (1954), Brenda Lee (1944), Donna Mills (1942), Rita Moreno (1931), Willia "Big Mama" Thorton (1926), Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918), Fiorello La Guardia (1882), and Hector Berlioz (1803).

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

[close window]
[Daily Briefing Archive]