It seems to me that, after years of education, most of us are actually quite ignorant—particularly about the world around us and how it works.
Take basic science, for instance. It’s clear that almost everything I learned in school is wrong.
Were you taught, as I was, that the inside of an atom was like a tiny solar system? That the nucleus in the center of the atom was like our sun? And the electrons whirling around the nucleus were like the planets in orbit around the sun (including Pluto, which we all learned was a planet back then)?
Sorry, but none of that is true any more. It seems that electrons don’t move around in orbits; they’re actually part of concentric shells that surround the nucleus. And electrons are always jumping back and forth, from one shell to the next shell.
That would be like the Earth and Mars deciding to bounce around and switch places all of a sudden. And you might find yourself looking up one day to see an extra moon in the sky. Or a big red planet between us and the sun.
We were also taught that nothing—absolutely nothing—travels faster than the speed of light. It’s one of the basic, immutable laws of the universe.
Well, not exactly. Now it seems that some atomic particles can suddenly disappear from one place and instantaneously re-appear someplace else, even thousands of miles away. The particle just blinks out of existence in one place and blinks into existence in another. We’ve gone way beyond the speed of light here.
Then there’s my brain. I was taught that the one inviolable rule about the brain was that you were stuck with the brain you had when you reached, say, 21. You could never, ever grow more brain cells or create more neurons.
Wrong. Brains, it turns out, are smarter than we thought—they are completely capable of growing new neurons as long as we live.
And you heavy drinkers out there who were told that drinking destroys your brain cells—well, yes, it does. But new studies have shown that, after you stop drinking, the neurons grow right back—and so do lots of new brain cells!
Feeling ignorant yet? And we haven’t even started talking about teaching ordinary people some basic survival skills: like operating the remote that came with your new TV, trying to understand the IRS tax code, figuring out which cell-phone company has the best deal, or translating that letter from Medicare to find out what your ear examination actually cost.
And have you even attempted to understand our cutting-edge technology—like 3D computer printers? Well, if you haven’t kept up with the news, they can now print replacement bones and tissue if you’ve had an accident. This is obviously black magic and voodoo to most of us.
Not to mention those millions of our fellow Americans whose primary science textbook seems to be the Bible. Enough said.
One thing more: I recently came across a report that says physicists at the University of Rochester have coaxed light into moving backwards—and, weirdly enough, to do so faster than light itself.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s the last straw.
I think we should demand that Congress develop a new education plan for confused people over the age of 21, like me.
Let’s call it: “Leave No Adult Behind.”