That’s So Second Millennium

Episode 011 - Intellectual Citizenship (part 2)

June 11, 2018

We start off unpacking the climate change example further and provide some additional context from political science and seismology. The point is to use climate change as an object lesson in how to break down a big issue at least a little bit, which is what a good intellectual citizen needs to do.

That still leaves us with a picture of intellectual citizenship as a really, frighteningly large responsibility for all of us to try to bear. We spend some time discussing the other side of the issue: we either live in a universe with no loving Creator or moral principle of compassion, in which case it hardly matters what we do or don't do, or else we live in a universe that does have such a Principle, in which case our best effort is good enough, because that Principle has things well in hand no matter what we do. If we let that sense of security sink in, that frees us to start with whatever issue attracts our attention first and go from there. We can take almost any example and infer some principles from that, which can be taken to other problems in the world.

Another point inspired, at least indirectly, by The Death of Expertise is the thought that all of us...certainly all of us who have an interest in the subject matter of this podcast...can, should, and probably already have become experts in something, so that we have offer something back to the world. That very expertise also gives us a lot of grist for considering the work of other experts and coming to some sort of judgment as to whether they are fulfilling their obligations and are more or less trustworthy.

Paul then asks Bill, in his personal expertise in journalism, for some pointers on how to judge media. Bill promises to discuss it more in the future, but takes some time to lament the decline many of us perceive in journalists' willingness to report as opposed to opine and engage in punditry.

Bill asks Paul to close out the podcast with a meditation on how model-based thinking could apply to religion as well as science. One prominent way is to consider how we use the examples of the lives of figures in Scripture and the saints to infer models of how human life can go. We don't get very far if we try to replicate another person's life exactly, and yet there are principles we can abstract from the examples of the saints that can help us on our way.

Apparently, we have not even touched on the issue that inspired Bill's original question about "intellectual citizenship." Whether we do that next episode remains to be seen.