Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What to do with the "marching morons"

As a teacher, and as someone who from time to time has said unkind things about "bogans," I feel chastened by PZ Myers' latest post--a response to an editorial by SF writer Ben Bova extolling the virtues of a 50s SF tale called "The Marching Morons," predicting a world overrun by "dummies."

Myers takes issue with the obvious elitism of the story, as well as its attempt to ground the intellectual class distinction in biology. He retorts: "People, they are us."

That's where the Kornbluth story fails. It assumes the morons are unchangeably moronic, and treats the elite as unchangeably special. The only solution to their problem is to get rid of the morons, launching them into space to die. Bova's editorial, while not as cynically eliminationist, still pretends that the only answer is perpetuation of a distinction that doesn't exist biologically.

Here's the real solution to the "marching moron" problem: teach them. Give them fair opportunities. Open the door to education for all. They have just as much potential as you do. Bova complains that people aren't willing to work for change, but this is exactly where we can work to improve minds — but we won't if we assume the mob is hopeless.

Read the rest--it's one of the best Pharyngula posts I've seen in a long time.