An Englishman wrote a popular book on mathematics. It turned out to be more than a book on mathematics as he brought in much history to support his thesis that the intellectual advancement of any civilization is limited by its combined social culture.
The Greeks, who did so much to develop geometry, grew stale when they could find no new uses for it and it became only an amusement for the idle rich and a necessity for the worshippers of culture for cultures sake. It took the barbarians with new problems and a burning desire to solve them to carry geometry into analytical geometry. When a civilization has satiated all its desires, advances cease and like any other organic process it begins to decay to make room for the new. This is probably a natural law which we cannot change.
We might be able to retard it if we would spend more time in teaching our children how to think and less time in teaching them what to think. Teaching them what to think cramps their minds with a lot of stuff which often turns out to be what Henry L. Mencken has so aptly termed “intellectual garbage.” This method makes recording machines of their minds which play back only the gibberish we have wished to be recorded. There is no “know-how” and no room for original and independent thought.
Because of this, prejudice becomes the great barrier of thought and progress. Our children are taught to believe that, because a man has a different colored skin, he is their inferior; that, because they may go to a specific church, all members of other churches are “hell-bent”; that, because their parents are Republicans, all Democrats are scoundrels. Parenthetically, I might state that I would prefer that my daughter refrain from voting the Democratic ticket until considerable fumigation has taken place. All of this piles up “intellectual garbage” and it takes another Hercules to clean it out.
The young medico has been taught that science exists nowhere but in the sacred edifices of the Rockefeller Foundation and its imitators. He is taught to investigate, to be sure, but not independently. He is taught what to investigate and even more stress is put on this than on the “how”. Is it any wonder, then that he ignores Homoeopathy?.
The most dangerous trend of our day is the ideology of collectivism, of which the New Deal is an anaemic form. It does not encourage independent thought; in fact, it encourages no thinking at all.
The last, and perhaps the strongest, fetter I wish to mention is the supreme egotism that permeates the human race. It is at the bottom of our burning wish for immortality and the unconquerable desire to make our off-spring the “spitting image” of ourselves. Instead of bearing the torch of knowledge in the great relay race of life, we merely hand down buckets of intellectual garbage. TOLEDO, OHIO.