Bioethics Blogs

Small Minds

I have
recently read an opinion piece published in the Chronicle of Higher Education
by John Kaag and David O’Hara entitled Big Brains, Small Minds
. In this article Kaag and O’Hara
boldly assert that “W
e are on the verge of becoming the
best trained, and least educated, society since the Romans”. In the ensuing explanation
we learn that education is science is what he refers to as “trained” while
education in the humanities is what he refers to as “educated”. Apparently I
have been trained and he has been educated. What a crock. Because I have been
trained and not educated it is probably important to clarify that I mean crock
not in the sense of an earthenware jar but rather in the sense of something
which is complete nonsense.

Kaag and
appear to believe that one of the primary roles of the
humanities is to critique science. That is fine; everybody should critique
science, it is much too important to not be evaluated in the context of all
types of human knowledge and understanding. It is also fine that they suggest
that humanities should not be judged by the metrics of hard science. Of note,
however, is I have never heard anyone suggest that humanities should be judged
by the metrics of hard science. But I think it is probably important to note,
however, that if it is the job of humanities to critique science perhaps those
doing the critiquing should also know some science. It should also be kept in
mind that scientists are pretty good at critiquing the sciences and, in fact, we
usually spend quite a bit of time and energy critiquing each other.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.