Friday, May 30, 2014

Bloomberg, Democracy, and the Woolly Mammoth

In his recent commencement address to Harvard graduates, Michael Bloomberg emphasized how democracies function by empowering the propagation of all ideas, whether liberal or conservative, and followed by chastising universities for their apparent one-sidedness in promoting an  overwhelmingly liberal ideology.  He also emphasized the importance of the acceptance of evidence-based science and cited an interesting example of the lack-thereof using the following little-known fact.

An eight year old girl wrote a letter to her state representative in South Carolina, suggesting that the state adopt the woolly mammoth as the "official state fossil."  (Apparently many states have adopted such "state fossils.")  Though agreed to by both houses of the state legislature, an amendment to declare that this fossil was, in fact, created by God on the sixth day of creation, was seriously considered prior to adoption.  After some debate, the amendment was rejected and the bill subsequently was passed without amendments.

If a democratically elected legislature had, however, decided that evolution is not science, and that the state fossil was created by God on day six of creation,  what is one to do.  As Winston Churchill is said to have said (and I paraphrase, I think) "Democracy is the worst form of government....... except for all the others."