Shown here is an Iowa license plate. Note the double helix running through the center of the design, like a coil of smoke rising from the barn below. We have seen this figure on road signs and license plates in at least four other states. It is, apparently, a mystical totem meant to attract technology jobs.
We wondered how many people actually know something about DNA. Hat tip to Ilya Somin for providing the answer in this hilarious post.
Over 80 percent of Americans support mandatory labels on foods containing DNA
The quip about pregnant women passing DNA on to their children reminded us of Penn and Teller’s campaign to ban dihydrogen monoxide (H2O). “It’s in all our lakes and streams,” said the canvasser. Somin goes on to make his familiar argument that, for some people, ignorance may be a rational choice. We like Somin’s ongoing exploration of ignorance, but we draw the line at apologizing for it.
This brings us to one of Jeremiah’s tips for clear thinking – the substitution test. This is a straight up linguistic technique based on the principle of contrastive pairs. We take a statement about “gun rights,” for example, switch it to “gay rights,” and then see how it sounds.
Most Germans get by perfectly well even though 25% of them think the sun orbits the Earth.
See? The sentence doesn’t scan, because everybody knows Germans are well educated. Somin’s position amounts to special pleading for Americans, as if we have a right to be ignorant. This is not to single out Somin. There is, in fact, quite a large ignorance movement in America.
They want people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork – George Carlin
Maastricht? Bretton Woods? Those are tourist spots. Don’t bother us with politics or current events. This stuff has nothing to do with real life, and we are too busy to care. It’s all negative energy, anyway. We are – Jeremiah’s favorite – too spiritual. We are above worldly concerns.
The merchants of ignorance are always trying to sell it as some kind of virtue.
The stupidity of the American voter … was really, really critical to get the [ACA] to pass. – Jonathan Gruber
We hate Jonathan Gruber for saying it, but we have to admit he’s right. We are a nation of idiots. Admitting it is the first step. Jeremiah, as you know, blames public education. Our schools fail miserably to educate, because that’s not their purpose. To paraphrase Milton Friedman – public education is always and everywhere an indoctrination program.
See also: OECD Skills Survey