The humility of science

In the middle of Jonah Goldberg’s tribute to his father is this little gem that testifies to the need for Man to be humble about his knowledge and abilities.

At Thanksgiving every year as the carving of the turkey got underway, he would note that if there was a planet of super-intelligent turkeys watching all this, the spectacle would be worse than any horror movie ever seen. At the end of the meal, he would always look at the remains of the carcass on the platter and ask me, gravely, “Jonah, Do you think if we assembled the greatest doctors and scientists in the world, we’d be able to save this bird’s life?”

If there is any doubt that there was greatness in the soul of Goldberg senior, consider the following observation.

“The editorial is an encomium to Kerouac’s genius, that he was a “master of haiku.” The only problem is that haiku is the most rigid poetic form–17 syllables in three lines of 5 , 7, and 5 syllables each, a form set in concrete for three or four centuries–and, as NYT points out, Kerouac was able to overcome this and do haiku in different numbers of syllables, not even adding up to 17…. The examples cited by NYT editorial are pure crap.”

It is remarkable how much unmitigated bullshit one can see through if one merely refuses to assume that others, particularly those with the highest standing and most impeccable credentials, actually know whereof they speak. Don’t trust, just verify.