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While working on some research and writing today, I was suddenly reminded of this brilliant passage from Peter Medawar‘s 1968 lecture “Science and Literature”, (reprinted in his Pluto’s Republic). It makes such a vital point, one that should be self-evidently true to anyone, scholar or otherwise, who identifies as a critical thinker and/or espouses a belief in the importance of the democratization of knowledge. Yet, sadly, to many self-identified thinkers and scholars, its message is anything but obviously true. And it is these charlatans, these individuals who “willingly run the risk of being misunderstood” and who see obfuscation as a virtue instead of the threat that it is, who are gleefully creating unnecessary and frustrating challenges for those of us who care about spreading knowledge and encouraging reason and rationality.
The importance of defending and promoting clarity cannot be overstated, and Medawar’s observations and assertions are (at the very least) as true now as they were in 1968.