Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ignorance (even the fake kind) is no longer acceptable

I was just listening to an interview on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe with a Brian Trent, who wrote a book about the cultural ramifications of immortality. I found it an interesting topic.
Then he mentioned the passage in Gulliver's Travels about the people who were immortal but never ceased aging. He called them 'The Struldbrugs or Struldbugs or something like that', stating that it had been some time since he read the book but that he 'did recall that very vividly.'
Maybe I'm alone on this, but to me in a world with Wikipedia and Google and any kind of information, particularly this kind, basically at your fingertips at all times, this kind of ignorance, especially in a writer who uses this as an example in a book that he wrote, bespeaks a real intellectual laziness. It led me to immediately write off the guy. Usually the people the Skeptic's Guide has on are not the type who do a lot of interviews but they certainly know their topics.
Lack of attention to detail in a world where the details are now the easy part will, I think, become increasingly unacceptable.
Incidentally, after a quick Wikipedia search, I can confirm that they are called Struldbrugs. Perhaps fault here lies not with lazy scholarship, but rather with that other great vice of our time, feigned lack of specific knowledge. Too often do we hear 'or something' appended to a statement with the express purpose of trying not to sound like a knowitall?

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