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View Diary: Breaking: Americans Find Something Else Not To Effing Believe In. (299 comments)

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  •  The climax of the great 70's series ... (16+ / 0-)

    "The Ascent of Man" was in the "Knowledge or Certainty" episode where the host (Dr. Jacob Bronowski) walks into a pond at Auschwitz, dips his hand into the muddy water and says (emphasis mine):

    There are two parts to the human dilemma. One is the belief that the end justifies the means. That push-button philosophy, that deliberate deafness to suffering, has become the monster in the war machine. The other is the betrayal of the human spirit: the assertion of dogma that closes the mind, and turns a nation, a civilisation, into a regiment of ghosts - obedient ghosts, or tortured ghosts.

    It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them into numbers. That is false, tragically false. Look for yourself. This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz. This is where people were turned into numbers. Into this pond were flushed the ashes of some four million people. And that was not done by gas. It was done by arrogance. It was done by dogma. It was done by ignorance. When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do when they aspire to the knowledge of gods.

    Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken'.

    I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson hasn't quite reached that level of eloquence, but I still have hope.

    •  Fantastic BBC series (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      allie4fairness, admiralh

      still available on DVD. This is one of my favorite scenes that was available on YouTube for some time. It is no longer available, probably due to it being copyrighted material, which lead me to seek and find the series DVDs on NetFlix. Nearly forty years have seen some of the information and ideas presented in it change which only goes to highlight the wisdom of Dr. Bronowski's point that science is always at the edge what is known, just waiting to be improved or disproved.

      Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

      by VTCC73 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 at 08:32:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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