When we drove home from Paso about a month ago, we went through Parkfield hoping to follow the San Andreas Fault north to Hollister. We followed a wide valley north for a while, thinking we were following the San Andreas Fault when the fault really went through the mountains to our left.
We knew that the San Andreas Fault ran through both places but we really
had have no idea where the fault is on the ground between those two points. But, while we were driving up the Parkfield-Coalinga Road and then up Highway 25, we kept thinking we were near the fault and we would each point out landscape features that we were sure was the handwork of the fault. We were interpreting data to match our preconceived answers. The problem with knowing the answer is that it is always easy to find data to support it.
It is easy to think that Science is the child of knowledge, but it really isn’t. Science is the child of ignorance. Before Galileo, the official doctrine of the Catholic Church was that the Bible told us all that needed to be known., and the Catholic Church was the arbitrator of knowledge for all of Christendom; in Europe, at least. If it was in the Bible, that was the answer, if it wasn’t in the Bible, it wasn’t worth knowing, and even worse, it might show that someone was influenced by the Devil. Galileo put a crack in that wall of Total Knowledge and then Isaac Newton put a hole in it big enough to run a buggy through. With increasing knowledge, even more questions could be seen, and the wall of Total Knowledge that hides the questions came down still faster.
I like to think that now we are living in the Golden Age of science – when you think about it, we live in the Golden Age of almost everything, except Democracy and World Peace – but that is misleading. Just because we are living in the Golden Age of science, doesn’t mean that everybody is. In much of the world, the wall of Total Knowledge still stands. Much of the world is still living smug, sure that they know everything that needs to be known. Not just in the Middle East, the wilds of Afghanistan, or Africa, but here too. A large number of people in the United States, pretend – or believe and I am not quite sure where the dividing line is – that they know everything that there is to know. Some of them are uneducated and not worldly, but some are educated and seemly are proud of their ignorance, and a couple are even running for president of the United States.
As we climbed out of the valley, going north on the Parkfield-Coalinga Road, three things happened almost simultaneously. The paved road turn to graded gravel with a sign that said Impassable When Wet, it started to drizzle, and Michele realized we were nowhere near the San Andreas Fault. We were in Michele’s TT with four-wheel drive and all-weather tires and she suggested we put the top up and give it a try. BTW, I was driving and Michele took most – but not all – of the pictures. Two minutes later, we drove out of the drizzle and put the top back down. Just after crossing over the summit at about 3500 feet, we pulled over to enjoy the view and eat a couple of leftover braised pork belly taquitos and a braised short rib tacos from the night before. The road turned to pavement and we followed it north to 198 and then Highway 25.