The new Spanish municipal life encompasses unusual tasks, some of them of utmost urgency, such as returning to traffic streets recently dedicated to the priority use of walkers or destroying bike lanes with bulldozers that threatened the sacred freedom of traveling by car. There are no limits to the activism of councilors who have just arrived at their positions. One of them, precisely from Health, has taken to the streets of Valladolid to distribute 7,500 ashtrays, in a campaign sponsored by a so-called Tobacco Table, whose website explains the multiple social and economic benefits of this product, which provides 9,000 million a year in taxes, and from which, they say, 53,000 people in Spain live. It is a pity that as many people die from tobacco as those who live from it and that the cost of smoking and its consequences for the health system is triple the tax revenue it produces. The Health Councilor of Valladolid smiles advertisingly with his ashtrays, flanked by some hostesses, and it is likely that in addition to tobacco smoke he inhales and proudly celebrates gasoline smoke, which is equally beneficial for health, depending on the promptness with which the town councils governed by the right and the extreme right are eliminating the already few limitations on private traffic in cities. Deaths due to air pollution are still more numerous in the world than those caused by tobacco, but these figures, certified by the most rigorous international organizations, do not affect the leaders of the Spanish municipal right, which has joined the anti-scientific obscurantism of Republican extremists in the United States, according to what Javier Salas said a few days ago in these pages.
“Official science does not explain everything,” the occult experts of our ignorant youth, the ufologists and parapsychologists and astrologers who divined our character according to the conjunction of the stars at our birth and read the future in our palms, mysteriously asserted. of the hand. Official science did not explain that some planes disappeared without a trace in the Bermuda Triangle and that in certain Mayan bas-reliefs, as in numerous passages of the Bible, undoubted evidence of visits by extraterrestrial ships was found. Something fundamental remained hidden: frozen alien corpses in an Arizona laboratory; photographs and documents classified as top secret in the Pentagon archives. Javier Salas attributes the primacy of obscurantism to the right, but there were times not long ago in which the denial of science and rational thought were also promoted by a confusing alternative attitude, a countercultural rejection of everything that seemed established and orthodox. We have embarrassingly witnessed attempts at astral travel under the effects of hashish and the symphonic lethargy of Pink Floyd, and we have had friends who, to the blessed admiration of everything that seemed like original craftsmanship or tribal mysticism, added the study and practice of tarot. .
Precisely, tarot is another of the disciplines that have deserved the protection of the Spanish municipal right. Until a few days ago, an organization of the Alicante City Council called the Women’s Talent School was offering a “tarot workshop for business success”, taught by Almudena Polo, founder of Al(mu)Quimia Holistic Therapies, and also, in her own words , “tarotherapist and strategic coach.” I remember the shop windows with pink or reddish lights and promising curtains of the fortune tellers in New York’s Greenwich Village. Woman of her time, Almudena, or Al (mu) Quimia, attends by WhatsApp or video call, but that technological distance does not diminish the effectiveness of her tarotherapy: “Now you can enjoy a more personalized and close experience of our readings ”. Sadly, an opposition councillor, driven no doubt by the resentment of the losers, raised the issue about the workshop for business success through tarot, and the Alicante City Council has been forced to cancel it.
This is an inexplicable world that has arisen and functions at every moment and in every aspect of life thanks to the technological applications of the most advanced scientific knowledge, but in which more and more people proudly display their suspicion or open contempt for The science. They do not trust the advice of a doctor or the prediction of a meteorologist, but they do trust the guesses of a fortune teller about the future written in the stars, or in the lines of the hand, or in the figures of a deck of cards. We rightly regret that the deterioration of the teaching of the humanities and sciences hinders the exercise of rationality and the critical spirit, but I fear that the most serious problem is not ignorance, but the human predisposition to not look at things as they are. They are whether that look contradicts beliefs or bothers the pure poise of someone who is not willing to know or change.
The reason is more fragile than it seems. Intelligence does not extend equally in all directions. We see in ourselves that we can be lucid and judicious in some things and dull or disastrously impulsive in others. Don Quixote is a calm and sensible man until the moment when the nonsense of knight-errantry is mentioned to him. We want to think that superstition and religious fanaticism are typical of ignorant people, but we know of scientists who effortlessly move from experimental rigor to praying the rosary, and of engineers trained in the best German universities who in September 2001 immolated themselves in the name of God piloting two planes full of passengers against the Twin Towers. Knowledge, unlike faith and the readings of the tarot reader Al(mu)Quimia, cannot be “personalized and close”: the constellations in the night sky are not about you; History, studied seriously, does not give anyone patriotic joy; Anyone who promises paradise, or the imminent fulfillment of needs and desires, is lying and dangerous; Talent is not free or instantaneous, nor does it depend on desire or will, and it is not even guaranteed by effort; It is not enough to desire something to be able to achieve it; You cannot have everything, among other things because, as Isaiah Berlin indicated, two equally desirable and just ends can sometimes be incompatible with each other.
Javier Salas cites in his report studies according to which, he says, “the right-wing worldview collides with the scientific system itself,” but I have the impression that the evil is much more distributed. There is no political extremism or ideological blindness or individual or collective narcissistic passion that is willing to accept the limits that reality, natural laws and common sense impose on their delirium. University theorists of great sophistication and alleged progressivism assure that there are no objective facts or data, but only variable figurations, “cultural constructs,” to use the depraved jargon in which they traffic. But the most dangerous thing about obscurantism and the uprising against science, climate denialism, irresponsibility regarding tobacco, are not some junkies who give away ashtrays on the street or who promote tarot courses for businesswomen: the ultimate and true enemy of science are the economic powers, perfectly trained in scientific knowledge and in the mastery of technology, who buy consciences, finance campaigns, corrupt political leaders and sow ignorance to continue multiplying immense benefits at the cost of making this world uninhabitable.
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