In 1789, one of the most important events in the history of our society happened. A bloody (as in, there was a lot of blood) revolution took place, during which the king of France was executed and eventually a republic was instituted. The events from 1789 to 1799 are put at the blueprint of our modern society, as that’s when democracy was (re)born. Democracy, such a powerful word. It derives from the Greek, it means ‘rule of the commoners’. Rather inspiring, isn’t it? Until that point, the commoners were completely powerless, but now everyone achieved the desired power, the privilege of a king in the hands of everyone, opposed to absolutism, where all the powers of a kingdom were concentrated in one single person. One man to rule them all.
The people, however, made the biggest mistake they could have possibly made. They assumed that democracy was the best possible system of government we could think of. We superbly sinned of arrogance, as we refused to believe our society could evolve and change further, and then develop a new kind of government based on something different than the people, something new, still undiscovered or unexplored. This arrogance lingered to our days, which is so sad. We daily rely on countless things that our ancestors didn’t think were possible, we’ve found cures to illnesses that would have killed thousands in the years of the French Revolution, we build spaceships and we’ve created a virtual universe where anyone can watch cat videos for as long as they like. And yet, we are so arrogant that we don’t want to accept that democracy is obsolete. Basically, we decided that we’ve already learned all that there is to learn.
Two huge political events happened in 2016. One was about a certain country leaving the EU, while the other was the presidential election in the US. The results of each were quite surprising, to me at least, mostly because I would have voted for the losing side in both cases. Sorry, no, I am lying. I wouldn’t have voted. Nor will I for as long as I find it appropriate. I am strongly against the concept of universal suffrage, I do not believe everyone should be allowed to vote. Including myself. I do not believe the average person is competent enough to take part in voting for something with an appropriate criteria and without ending up choosing one option over the other for irrational reasons. [An example? People voting for Hilary just because she’s a woman & people voting for Trump just because Hilary is a woman.] Governments do not educate their people well enough for them to be able to properly understand what’s going on in their country, so that they can have a proper opinion on the matters of their country and express it through the act of voting. Government limit themselves to advise the citizens to be informed, but they also tell people not to litter or kill each other. The social education of people needs to be institutionalized and mandatory, if governments still hope for the universal suffrage to still make any sense. And my not voting is putting myself in the (I believe growing) group of people who share my opinions. And the more this group grows, the more impactful its ideas will be, perhaps resulting in actual changes taking place.
What I do believe in are licenses. I like the idea that you need to pass exams and obtain a certificate in order for you to be allowed to drive a car, and I don’t see why is it restricted to vehicles and few other areas. Why not extending it? Why not creating a voting license? A certificate that would allow people to vote. You’d need to pass some sort of examination which will focus on establishing whether or not you can have an unbiased opinion when it comes to voting (and not only restricted to that), whether you can think and examine situations with a critical eye. Basically, if your cortex is thick enough to properly separate the left hemisphere from the right one, when needed. And I would also extend this whole license thing to other areas. Parenting, for example. Couples who apply for adoption have to go through a long and tedious process to prove adequate for having kids under their custody, but why doesn’t everyone go through the same process? Why do we assume that those who can have biological children will also be good parents, but those who cannot won’t? The cases of mentally ill parents are not uncommon, but I am not even considering cases as extreme as a mental illness. I hear of parents who do not want to expose their children to the ‘risks of vaccines’, who force unhealthy diets to them, as well as alternative treating methods when they are ill, which too often do not end well. Parents who are blinded by their opinions and refuse to be instructed. I do not believe these people should be allowed to have children, and I am convinced that individual tests would be able to spot the suitability of a person to be a parent.
I often get asked what would these tests be like. I reply saying I have no clue. “Then you shouldn’t be talking” is what follows. I can’t find the sense in that last statement. I do not have the qualification to create examinations, government models, social structures. I am merely a young person with an undergraduate degree in something completely irrelevant to what I’m discussing here who spotted huge faults in the way democracy is portrayed, and I’m pointing it out. I give hints of the way I would change things but I can’t have the whole picture in my mind. [Who can?] One needs no qualification in mathematics, however, to spot the bullshit in “2+2=5”. The validity (or falsity) of a statement does not depend on the identity of who’s making the statement. ‘We should eliminate racism’ is an example, and it must be considered for its meaning alone, even if Adolf Hitler himself had said it. You may argue that Hitler is a rather hypocritical person if he says something like that, but it doesn’t take anything away from the validity of that statement.
“Science is not democratic.”
This is a phrase that has been said a couple of times in modern history, but most recently I’ve seen it used by Italian doctor Roberto Burioni. He said it on his Facebook page following a post in which he was denouncing those who were saying that the current vaccination crisis in the country was due to the number of African and Asian immigrants. After he shut down that wrong argument, he proceeded to delete all comments underneath his post, saying that, as a matter of fact, science is not democratic, and being entitled to opinions is not allowed. Dr. Burioni delivers a powerful and important message and I loved the execution.
[First comment: ALL COMMENTS ARE BEING DELETED.
Second comment: I would like to precise that this page is not one on which people who know nothing can have a “civil debate” and discuss with me au pairs. This is a page on which I, after studying these subjects for thirty-five years, try to explain things in an accessible way using my time for free, which would normally be extremely generously rewarded. Making concepts accessible requires simplification: but all I write is correct and, since I always insert references, anyone is free to check the veracity of what I report. But they cannot start discussing with me. I hope that I cleared up the matter: here only those who have studied have the freedom of speech, not the common citizen. Science is not democratic.]
The main message is that opinions are dangerous, as they are at the core of the current skepticism in vaccines, climate change, evolution, pollution. It’s what we call bigotry, mostly associated with religion, it’s really everywhere.
This image has been rather popular recently, and its main caption is as follows: “Just because you are right doesn’t mean I am wrong. You just haven’t seen life from my position.” Thankfully, in no time an averted caption saved the day:
[Credits: The SkepDick]
“No one wants to do any research, they just want to be right.”
Being wrong is fine. Science is based on people being wrong and therefore deepening their knowledge of the world. We should embrace Socrates’s words and accept that the only thing we know is that we know nothing. We should question anything we see, hear and think, starting from our own thoughts. Let’s observe. Let’s analyze, let’s research. Let’s not get lost in our mental chamber of certainties that blinds us from what we can understand if we only gave it a chance. People should allow their opinions to be debunked; they should allow someone who dedicated all of their adult life studying subjects that not everyone studies to instruct them. People should repel bigotry in all of its forms, especially in the era of information, when it’s dangerous.
To say that I don’t believe in democracy, however, would be wrong. I can’t say I believe in what democracy is today, which historically wasn’t democratic in the slightest. The original democracy, the Athenian one, counted about 10% of the total residents as voters. In the modern era, women couldn’t vote initially, as well as certain ethnic groups. “But today is fiiiiiine” you may say. Is it? Foreigners can’t vote. And before you say “Ye but with foreigners it’s different man, like, they don’t know enough about the country to…”, oh but the average person from that country knows enough? If properly instructed, any person from any country would be able to provide an adequate vote in any other country. It’s exactly what I’ve said before: the validity of a statement does not depend on who’s expressing it. And it applies to votes as well. [Oh and let’s not ignore the fact that saying “Ye but with foreigners it’s different man” is as presumptuous as those who in the past said “Ye but with women it’s different man”.] The voting license concept I described above would, hypothetically, develop enough for there to be an actual universal suffrage. I like that idea, of everyone contributing equally among themselves to the development of a country, but I can’t stand it in the slightest as it is now. But having a whole nation appropriately instructed to be good citizens would be bloody (no, no actual blood spilled now) wonderful. The question is whether we as a species are suitable for a task as crazy as giving up some of our privileges for the greater good.