The Progressive Effects of Education

Homo sapiens, “knowing man,” is the species that uses information to resist the rot of entropy and the burdens of evolution. Humans everywhere acquire knowledge about their landscape, its flora and fauna, the tools and weapons that can subdue them, and the networks and norms that entangle them with kin, allies, and enemies. They accumulate and share that knowledge with the use of language, gesture, and face-to-face tutelage.


The mind-altering effects of education extend to every sphere of life, in ways that range from the obvious to the spooky. At the obvious end of the range, we saw in chapter 6 that a little knowledge about sanitation, nutrition, and safe sex can go a long way toward improving health and extending life. Also obvious is that literacy and numeracy are the foundations of modern wealth creation. In the developing world a young woman can’t even work as a household servant if she is unable to read a note or count out supplies, and higher rungs of the occupational ladder require ever-increasing abilities to understand technical material. The first countries that made the Great Escape from universal poverty in the 19th century, and the countries that have grown the fastest ever since, are the countries that educated their children most intensely.


So much changes when you get an education! You unlearn dangerous superstitions, such as that leaders rule by divine right, or that people who don’t look like you are less than human. You learn that there are other cultures that are as tied to their ways of life as you are to yours, and for no better or worse reason. You learn that charismatic saviors have led their countries to disaster. You learn that your own convictions, no matter how heartfelt or popular, may be mistaken. You learn that there are better and worse ways to live, and that other people and other cultures may know things that you don’t. Not least, you learn that there are ways of resolving conflicts without violence. All these epiphanies militate against knuckling under the rule of an autocrat or joining a crusade to subdue and kill your neighbors. Of course, none of this wisdom is guaranteed, particularly when authorities promulgate their own dogmas, alternative facts, and conspiracy theories—and, in a backhanded compliment to the power of knowledge, stifle the people and ideas that might discredit them.


Folksonomies: enlightenment education liberalism

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 Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Pinker, Steven (2018227), Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: enlightenment humanism