“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” ~ Plato

Via Waylon Lewis
on Jan 7, 2012
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Neil Degrasse Tyson:


The question, “If I were President I’d…” implies that if you swap out one leader, put in another, then all will be well with America—as though our leaders are the cause of all ailments.

That must be why we’ve created a tradition of rampant attacks on our politicians. Are they too conservative for you? Too liberal? Too religious? Too atheist? Too gay? Too anti-gay? Too rich? Too dumb? Too smart? Too ethnic? Too philanderous? Curious behavior, given that we elect 88% of Congress every two years.

A second tradition-in-progress is the expectation that everyone else in our culturally pluralistic land should hold exactly your own outlook, on all issues.

When you’re scientifically literate, the world looks different to you. It’s a particular way of questioning what you see and hear. When empowered by this state of mind, objective realities matter. These are the truths of the world that exist outside of whatever your belief system tells you.

One objective reality is that our government doesn’t work, not because we have dysfunctional politicians, but because we have dysfunctional voters. As a scientist and educator, my goal, then, is not to become President and lead a dysfunctional electorate, but to enlighten the electorate so they might choose the right leaders in the first place.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

New York, Aug. 21, 2011


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


3 Responses to ““Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” ~ Plato”

  1. Mark Ledbetter says:

    Great video! This guy is really good. But I think he still believes too much in democracy, that he can fix things by fixing the voters.

    Sure, democracy is better than the alternative. But it has to be the lesser god. Freedom should be our goal, democracy only a tightly chained servant of that god.

    Friedrich Hayek was rather similar to Plato, at least on this issue. In his classic The Road To Serfdom he explained why the worst, not the best, rise to the top in democracies, why winning elections depends on “willingness to do immoral things.” I just read an interesting article that discussed Hayek and also Jim Kouri, a Law Enforcement Examiner (whatever that is!). Kouri explains that successful politicians share character traits with the typical serial killer. Both groups have “a talent for mixing charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally violence to control others, to satisfy their own selfish needs.”

    What? you don’t know who Hayek is? Check out these two rap debates between Hayek and Keynes. Loads of fun no matter what your views.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0nERTFo-Sk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTQnarzmTOc&fe

  2. Mark Ledbetter says:

    P.S. just so there's no misunderstanding, Hayek was not against democracy. He was just too realistic about human nature to make democracy a high ideal. He sang no praises for power to the masses, only rights to the individual.

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