A few posts ago, I complained about a Park Service employee whose goal in life seems to be convincing the world that the Grand Canyon is only a few thousand years old.
I dislike seeing ignorance being promoted as science.
This morning I was treated to another example of ignorance — this time emanating from a “leading scholar” with a Ph. D. in Biometrics, and five additional honorary doctorates. (At least, that’s what all the web pages say, in similar language; I can’t track down the names of the places which bestowed them.)
Reflecting on these two, I see no moral equivalency. The park service guy — not a scholar — at least bases his ignorance on something: a particular interpretation of the Bible. This is wrong, but it is at least honestly wrong.
Dr. Bertell, on the other hand, accuses the military of triggering earthquakes without a shred of evidence. She is a scholar, teacher, college administrator, and no doubt she delivers lectures to the literati.
By far, Dr. Bertell is the worse of the two. At least Mr. Vail is sincere in his religious belief, which doesn’t particularly threaten anyone (as long as it isn’t taken too seriously). Besides, he is mostly preaching to other fundamentalists who already share his views. And how many people are really harmed by the rather silly contention that the Grand Canyon is only a few thousand years old? (I don’t think it qualifies — even remotely — as a “dangerous idea.”)
Dr. Bertell, on the other hand, claims to be a scientist, but her nun’s habit is wielded as an argument to authority. Her followers fancy themselves to be intellectuals who would look down on and belittle people like Mr. Vail. To the extent they are atheists (which I am sure many of them are) their religious masquerade is therefore infinitely more hypocritical.
Both are corrupters of science. Both improperly mix religion, politics, and science — torturing all three in the process. Yet I think Bertell is the more malevolent, because she strikes me as a true hypocrite. I think she uses her status both as a scholar and a nun to hide genuine demagoguery, and I think many of her followers are in on the same game.
The image of an elderly nun plays well on TV, and they know it.