Anyone who knows me, and who's ever unwisely asked me a question about science knows what a geek I am. I can't help it; I think amassing knowledge and solving problems is a big part of the point of being human. I'm not religious, but the believers I have the most time for are the ones who believe that god wants us to study his/her universe, to understand it, to appreciate it; those who note that god gave us analytical brains and a world packed with tricky questions to answer; who think He/She wants us to aspire to wisdom and knowledge of nature. If that was the god they talked about in church, I'd be a little more interested. The god I could believe in would have no time for faith; she'd think it was missing the point.
But in movies, people who love knowledge are often portrayed as coldly logical or shortsighted or childishly unworldly or laughably absentminded. And the ones who aren't any of those things tend to be bent on destroying the world. But I don't know any real scientists like that. The ones I know tend to be caring secular humanists. Tolerant, sensible, relatively humble, but tenacious in solving problems. The real scientists I know are the sort of people I'd like to see helping to run the world.
Which is why this interview with Al Gore made me so wistful. Were it not for the U.S. Supreme Court deciding that counting all votes was somehow not the right thing to do, he'd have been President for at least four of the last seven years. People used to say of George W. Bush that he was someone you'd want to have a beer with. Well, personally, I'd infinitely prefer to have a coffee with Al Gore. I've never seen the name Ilya Prigogine in a newspaper before, let alone because a politician expressed fascination with his work. But I know who he is and why Gore would be interested in him. And I'd want a President who cares about the things Al Gore cares about, knows the things he knows and thinks the way Al Gore thinks. I particularly like the fact that he confesses that politics is too rigged and too irrelevant a game to waste any more of his life on. I can't wait to read his book The Assault on Reason, not just to learn his views, but to see if he'll come right out and say what a lot of crap most politics and most journalism is.
He says he doesn't want to run, but how about they put his name on the ballot anyway? We're going to need a lot of people like him if we're going to save the planet and avert a global catastrophe. It really would be helpful if one of them was in charge of the U.S.A.