March 25, 2013

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of UCF this year, we are reminded that the core benefit of an upper-level education is the opportunity to pursue and obtain insight and knowledge over blindness and ignorance.

We live in a time in which faith in religion is believed by many to provide the best solutions to our most profound and unknowable questions. To others, the discipline of mathematics and the scientific method of inquiry are considered to be the best rational means for navigating human dilemmas.

While these age-old debates between the sacred and secular continue, we must be cautious to not overlook the subtle changes that have taken place in the means and manners for pursuing truth that are offered to us outside the academic world.

More and more, we are being inundated in media and politics with pseudoscience presented as real science in the form of reality shows on many 24-hour cable programing cycles. The airwaves are filled with quirky notions of obscure Egyptology, extraterrestrial ancestors, and human-animal creatures in the woods. We consume books listed in the top 10 most prominent non-fiction categories on The New York Times Best Seller lists – that are actually fiction.

We populate theaters that offer us outlandish and silly, but frighteningly popular “reality-based” movies of modern-day vampires, werewolves and ghosts, which appear to be replacing a formerly legitimate genre – science fiction – the staple primer for future scientists and innovative thinkers.

Worse yet are the popular plethora of television “documentaries” about paranormal activity equipped with high-tech sensors prominently depicted as measures of reliable truth.

In the fine arts, particularly the traditional visual arts, a similar phenomenon has occurred, as fashionable art is becoming more popular than the more thought-provoking art. But because the fine arts are sometimes deemed less relevant to the lives of many in our contemporary culture, I think the issue unfortunately goes less noticed and may be considered unequal to the issues confronting science, especially as pseudoscience attempts to usurp and misconstrue the language and methodologies of real science. To those who are uninformed and not exposed to significant experiences or opportunities for education in the arts, the visual arts are often relegated to the same realms as pseudoscience.

Continue reading the full article at UCF Today.