Your RDA of Irony

The Politics of Science

We know that the White House ignores all the evidence of evolution, global warning and gravity. When the truth is inconvenient, and the facts are incriminating, one can find great solace in ignorance. There are times and societies where stupidity is a dogma. For example, in 16th century Spain the Inquisition regarded the practice of reading on a Saturday as suspiciously Jewish. And you know how the Inquisition dealt with suspicions. People can be as flammable as books.

And in our time, General Pinochet had similar suspicions for similar reasons. During his tyranny, Chile’s colleges were discouraged from teaching the Theory of Relativity. Albert Einstein apparently was not a practicing Catholic. (However, Pinochet was quite enthusiastic about the economic ideas of Milton Friedman, but then those people are so good at usury.)

Now lest I be picketed by the Knights of Columbus, I must mention an example of willful ignorance by Protestant liberals. In 1582, the Catholic Church presented an updated and far more accurate version of the calendar. However, Protestant England refused to acknowledge the improvement, as if there were a Jesuit lurking behind every page of the calendar. Of course, naming the calendar for Pope Gregory was not exactly ecumenical either. Rather than give a Catholic credit for anything, England adhered to the old Julian calendar. (Apparently, an inaccurate pagan was preferable to an accurate Catholic.)

Finally, in 1752 Britain begrudgingly adopted the Gregorian Calendar. At least, the American Colonies did not revolt over that; but it was a confusing transistion. For example, George Washington had to adjust the celebration of his birthday. The twenty-year-old thought he had been born on February 11th. According to the new calendar, however, he should have been celebrating on February 22nd.

And most of us will honor him today. The White House may still think that it is February 11th.

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