I always assumed that “The Mouse that Roared” was a not too subtle reference to Sputnik I, which was launched on this date in 1957. The satellite was the first human made machine to orbit the planet, and it was launched by the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. In some ways, Sputnik’s tiny “beep beep beep” sound heard radiometrically (but mostly metaphorically) in the west, from a Soviet-launched device flying over whatever countries the Soviets decided to launch it over … was the most frightening sound ever heard in the Situation Room (or the 1957 equivalent thereof) at the White House.

There is a direct relationship between Sputnik’s launch and the subsequent building of hundreds of college campus buildings, expansions of science departments, expansion of science education, and funding for science research in the United States.

It is a shame that today this intentional, self-reflexive effort to dominate the world via knowledge (albeit knowledge of weapons and rockets) has been converted today into the exact opposite; The fear mongering right wing militants have decided that it is better to NOT have excellent science research and science education. Why? Because it hurts their cause. Having a population schooled in rational thinking and the scientific method, and related thinking methodologies, is antithetical to the right wing’s policy agenda. For the most part, policy-making based on rational thinking about good data will lead to different approaches than policy-making based on business oriented special interests. It is very much in the interest of the right wing to keep science educators busy defending public education from creationism than it is to have a well informed, rational, skeptical population.

We truly have drifted close to rocky shores. I don’t think it is possible to stop the stupidity. We ignored it for too long.

Oh, I should clarify my obscure reference: The Mouse that Roared was a movie. At the least, check out the description of it, but better yet, get some popcorn and watch it some time.

Comments

  1. #1 elias saman
    October 4, 2010

    Excellent! Thank god that there are people that think out of the box. Education is the most important field that we have to fight for. We need more open minded people!
    http://e1saman.wordpress.com/2010/10/01/do-we-really-understand-science/

  2. #2 The Ridger
    October 4, 2010

    And it was a 1955 book before it was a movie, one of several funny satires on politics (Feast of Freedom is another) by Leonard Wibberley. Well worth your time.

  3. #3 Deen
    October 4, 2010

    “The Mouse that Roared” was a novel first. Never seen the movie, but I remember that the novel was quite amusing. Should probably give it another read, haven’t read it in a long time, and I’ve also only read it in translation.

  4. #4 valdemar
    October 4, 2010

    The Mouse That Roared is a great Peter Sellers movie, not least in its appeal for rational army control. Check out the sequel, The Mouse on the Moon, in which a group of hapless Europeans in chain mail are mistaken for… Well, no spoilers from me.

  5. #5 Julie Stahlhut
    October 4, 2010

    Thanks for reminding me of the very funny “Mouse” novels, which I loved when I was in high school! Must find out whether they’re available for my e-reader.

    There’s also a passage in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” where the title character half-marvels, half-despairs at the superstitions held by the people he meets in medieval England. It was written in 1889, and could easily describe some of the stuff I’ve seen passed around in frantic mass e-mails more than 120 years later.

  6. #6 Ken Larson
    October 5, 2010

    In the cold war era we were afraid of a technologically superior enemy, so we built schools and invested in science to counter their supposed superior technology.

    Today our “enemy” took down some of our highest tech using nothing more than box cutters. They could have used sharpened rocks. So to counter them effectively we have to reduce our technology to match theirs.

    Makes perfect sense, right?

  7. #7 Ken Larson
    October 5, 2010

    BTW… I love the movie version of The Mouse That Roared. I’m sure it’s a bit dated, but if you can put yourself in the mind-set of the time, it’s excellent.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2010

    Ken, I’ve been thinking about that. I wonder how history will depict the changes caused by fear of Sputnik in relation to changes caused by fear of the Caliphate.

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