Shamgar slaying the Philistines / image from the brick bible.

Ignorance should never be celebrated

Don’t be a Philistine. If you don’t learn, you shut down.

I believe that knowledge is power.

Learning, in general, is always the best route to take, and anti-intellectualism signals the beginning of the end of a culture.

I'll be the first to admit that there are many things in this culture, surrounding me, that I don't want to learn about.

Case in point: reality television. I don't want to watch it. Heck, I don't even want to read about it. I almost get angry when I hear about Splash, a show about celebrities and overcoming their fears of jumping off a diving board. Really? Is that entertainment?


Anyhow, while I'm fine with expressing my distaste for shows like this, here's something I don't do: proclaim with a smug look on my face, “Oh, Real Housewives? I'm proud to say that I don't even know what that is.”

People. It's all right if you don't know something. It's all right if you have no interest in knowing something. But don't boast about it. As I posted just today to my social media networks:

Ignorance of any kind is not something to be celebrated.

A more common example: I work in the web industry. I train people to use their business's website (which my company creates). I also train them and give them strategies on how to effectively use social media.

Some clients jump right in. But I have some clients who, perhaps jokingly, just proclaim, “The website? I don't even know how to use the computer!”

Being as diplomatic as possible, I usually respond with something to the effect of, “Well, nowadays it's going to be increasingly difficult to get by without at least a basic knowledge of computers.”

Inside, though, I'm cringing.

In my opinion, this is even worse, in some ways, than denying the overwhelming scientific evidence behind evolution or global warming. And yes, it's even worse than being a birther and denying, after seeing a copy of President Obama's birth certificate, that he's a native US citizen.

It's worse because it's more a more fundamental expression of anti-intellectualism — you're not proudly holding onto an untrue principle for political or financial gain like birthers or science deniers; you're refusing to learn for the sake of not learning. Isn't this as close as you can get to being an original-definition Philistine?

Everybody has their own values, and along with that are their little pet peeves. It's a point of correction for me when someone says, for example, “Bobby is a Catholic child.” (As Richard Dawkins pointed out, “There's no such thing as a Christian child, only a child raised by Christian parents.”)

Ladies and gentlemen, celebrate your thirst for knowledge! Celebrate how easy it is to learn; often with a simple phrase typed into your phone! Celebrate your brain's capacity to shove bits of knowledge inside it without reaching capacity!

But don't celebrate not knowing something. It's a sign of your inevitable extinction, of you and your mind powering down. Thus, knowledge is power.