The "Age of Endarkenment"? Really Orac?

Apr 01 2009 Published by under Public Health, Science Communication

Although I've heard the phrase bandied about now and again, it is Orac's recent use that is probably going to leave a lasting impression with me.

This is a battle that's about more than animal rights. It's about science and reason, as opposed to unreason. It's about fighting back against the incipient Age of Endarkenment.

Is this a bit overblown?


You may have noticed some recent commentary on an older post of mine. It appears to have been stimulated by this link on a discussion forum for antiVacc parents. Of course, the idiot antiVacc parents are up in arms about my tone, i.e., calling them idiots. Of course they are idiots as becomes rapidly evident (and not just because they don't seem to understand the concept of a blog)- they immediately appeal to the simplest and most easily dismissed rationale. Why are you concerned if you vaccinate your kids anyway? Gee, I dunno, because kids under 12 mo don't get the vaccine? Some kids can't be vaccinated because of rare immunological conditions?
Of course, Orac has a much better overview of the burning stupidity in just about every post he writes on the topic, start here if you really care.
The question for today is posed in the title. I have to say I am starting to agree with Orac that this is something that we need to consider more. How can we help to steer away from this anti-science nonsense? I mean, these are well-off and highly educated people who promulgate the vaccine fear. Even though they are misguided, I think we can conclude that at least they GiveACrap (which is a good thing). Similarly the non-violent animal rights advocates care strongly...and are seriously misguided on the facts. Of course, we can't force these horses to drink...but we can lead them to water. Over, and over, and over again if necessary.
Keep it real, Orac.

16 responses so far

  • Scott Belyea says:

    Is this a bit overblown?

    No, it's considerably overblown.
    On two other fronts:

    Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.

    and

    The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they know everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior, and dress.

    It's common and tempting for me to think that the issue that particularly gets up my nose is worse now than when I was a boy, perhaps worse than it's ever been, and that terrible problems are almost upon us.
    This is not to say that there isn't a problem today with what in some cases seems to be a worrying growth in pseudoscience; or that it does not need to be resisted. However, a little perspective never hurts.
    The first quote is Cicero (106-43 BCE); the second is Peter the Hermit (1050-1115).

  • becca says:

    Dude, anyone who uses the phrase "age of endarkenment" in earnest needs to have their eyes poked out. SRSLY.

  • bioephemera says:

    w00t! w00t! The Age of Endarkenment is upon us!
    Wait, is this phrase referring neither to a new, Goth clothing line, nor a steampunk film by Neil Stephenson starring Eliza Dushku? Sigh.
    Never mind. πŸ™

  • PalMD says:

    I totally buy endarkenment. At least from my perspective, it describes what i'm seeing---a complete rejection of science in favor of religious-like superstition.

  • Bring on The Age Of Enjamesonment!

  • S. Rivlin says:

    At least in the US, judging from the significant number of people, including some of our leaders, who visit the Creation Museum or who pray for healing instead of seeing a clinician; judging from a majority leader senator, who's also a surgeon, who looked at a video of a woman with a dead brain and determined that her brain is responsive to environmental stimuli because her eyes moved aimlessly; judging from an institute of scientists (DI), who are creationists in disguise, pushing Inteligent Design BS; heck, judging from scientists we all know and communicate with, who have the big stage of the internet and use it to fight for women equality in academia, yet choose to stay silent when the stupid Pope declares that condoms enhance the spread of HIV, and judging from the fact that the number of measles cases in this country is skyrocketing, you bet we are in the age of endarkmenment. This is a problem as great, if not greater than terrorism, which is another symptom of the age of endarkenment.

  • antipodean says:

    4 years ago when you retards had re-elected/reappointed Bush things were definately looking stupider.
    Now? I dunno. Things are looking up. The levels of retarded thinking are probably no worse than they have ever been and considerably lower than historically.
    The rejection of reason is nothing new and it's probably not worse than any point in time you care to name.

  • DuWayne says:

    Sorry DM, you know that I adore you, but Orac isn't far off the mark on this by a long shot.
    When an asshole ranting at me in a coffee shop about how my neurological issues are actually Satan and I need to quit taking my meds and see a minister instead of my fucking counselor barely garners funny looks from those who hear it, things don't look so good. Especially when the same people who hear that, scowl at me when I retort that I'm a fucking atheist. (though that might have been because of the comment about shoving his Faith in, among other things, AA, in his ass)
    When one of the very few jobs I lost out on because of google, while working in Portland, was because of my "insane" views, supporting vaccines - things don't look so bright.
    When there are huge numbers of people out there who will argue voraciously that water has memory and think that I should actually take them seriously - it's getting fucking darker still.
    Do I really need to go on? I think it is really easy to sort of miss some of this, when you happen to be surrounded by intelligent, educated people. Yeah, the fucktarded morons have a presence on the intertubes, but they're limited - right? Except when you get out into the real world, wherein you're surrounded by your average Joe's, you start to realize that the deluded fucktards are managing to influence people at least as well and on many fronts better than those who tend to like evidence and reason. Hell, you take most intelligent people outside their expertise and even the very brightest can occasionally be fooled.
    Purveyors of woo tend to tell compelling stories. And not being limited by evidence and reason, they can really make it sound fucking great - just look at evolutionary psychology or, say, The Bell Cruve. It's not just overt misogynists and racists who buy into that bullshit.
    Believe me, I am hopeful. I keep telling myself that we're moving forward, slowly - painfully slowly - but surely. And on a lot of fronts we are. But on a lot of other fronts it's pretty fucking grim and scary.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    The age of endarkenment is directly correlated with the decline in our educational system over the past 40 years. Great strides were made in the 50s and 60s mainly thanks to Sputnik and NASA who captured both the imagination of the public and the fear of our politicians from an enemy that appeared to be making scientific advances faster and greater than our own. However, many of the very technological and scientific advancements made in the past half century have produced lazy and uncurious couch potatos who believe in superheroes and the unnatural.

  • BikeMonkey says:

    The age of endarkenment is directly correlated with the decline in our educational system over the past 40 years.
    Perhaps partially related. But the things that concern me seem more to be laid at the doorstep of the political process and whatever has happened to "journalism". With respect to the former, although I am sure there are deeper roots, I blame BushI and the other post-Ronnie Republicans. Point being that Reagan was excoriated for being uneducated, possibly not to bright and operating from ideology rather than evidence. He succeeded, in part by making fun of the educated classes as eggheads, etc; his critics did succeed. So those in his party concluded that they should follow the same path and continue with the know / know nothing polarization of our political environment. As it turned out, this approach dovetailed nicely with the bushrovian approach that they could simply ignore objective reality and create their own new reality so they kept it rollin'

  • antipodean says:

    Yeah Sol
    Media, science, entertainment, knowledge are international.
    There is more than one country in the world. You do realise this?
    And besides your country spent 30 something years running around killing suspected communists for their own good during your so-called golden period. Testing nuclear bombs in the open air and not allowing black people to vote in some places. Rose coloured glasses man.

  • llewelly says:

    I look at the growing skeptic movement, and hope that it will someday put an end to the age of endarkenment.

  • S. Rivlin says:

    antipodean,
    You're absolutely correct. There are other countries and many of them suffer from the same problem that the US suffers from. The fact that this problem is global does not take away from the reason for the age of endarkenment i.e., the failure of the educational system. Most politicians are as uneducated as those who vote them in. Just look who's running to be elected to Education Boards in Texas, Nebraska, Kensas, etc.

  • Chris says:

    Just FYI: the term "Age of Endarkenment" was coined by David Colquhoun almost two years ago, see:
    http://dcscience.net/?p=187

  • bioephemera says:

    I find it interesting how antipodean suggests every person (in his or her words, "retard") in the United States supported the Bush administration. Isn't that implausible given the size of our country? Or is it just easier for you to view us as a homogeneous group?
    There is more than one political group in the US. You do realize this? πŸ˜‰

  • antipodean says:

    Thanks Bio
    I remember now. You have two political parties πŸ˜‰
    I still think that on average this is as good as it has ever been. I don't see the current period as being a regression to the dark ages. Things are getting better.

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