Popular Writing: Why It’s Important to Bring Complex Ideas to the World of Ordinary People

Scientific illiteracy is one the most harrowing challenges of our time; on the one hand, the public is chastised for their unwillingness to try to grasp important academic concepts, and on the other, books on popular science and psychology (the attempts of several “fringe” academics to bring these ideas to light) are lambasted as well. So, in the eyes of the academic world, making ideas, and facts, more widely-known is a sin, as it seems that they’re the intellectual gatekeepers of truth, and everyone else is an unwelcome outsider.

When we discuss scientific topics, illiteracy is a well-known, and consistently combated epidemic, combated through the great programs and books by popular scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku; but, with respect to the topics of psychology and philosophy, their popular platforms are scorned, and their best-selling authors ridiculed and inaccurately labeled as self-help gurus (an industry of charlatans which undoubtedly poses a real problem). And this elitism has to end. One of the best articles I’ve read was one by Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, on Intellectual Fascism (which I highly recommend reading), focusing on liberals’ use of intellect and knowledge as bludgeons against their enemies, in turn creating a vast political and cultural divide, one that seems to be more unbridgeable than ever before. And all of that for what? So that we could hold our chins up at the notion that we’re superior to the public?

When one enters academia, they’re often discouraged from writing blogs about the subjects of their discipline, as it’s assumed that scholastic matters aren’t for the masses; the belief is simply that most people won’t want to read about them, and/or won’t understand them. And I think that’s bullshit. I believe that most people fear them, and we don’t help much in building their confidence. Thus, it was important for me to start this blog, and have it tailored for mass consumption; I knew what academics knew, that these philosophical and psychological seeds of wisdom can help each of us live better, and more fulfilling, lives, and I wanted to help plant them, for all to consume.

When I teach my clients how to utilize philosophical skills and use psycho-education to conceptualize their difficulties, elucidating the aspects of which they’re unaware of and where they stem from, they, sometimes, react with frightened expressions, fearing that the information went over their heads. However, after taking some time to process and restate what I said, they nearly always indicate that they’ve understood it; and, that’s my favorite part! These seemingly complex ideas aren’t, and don’t have to be, the exclusive domain of coastal intellectuals, as they belong to us all. And the more widespread and well-known they are, the more we teach others how to think, not what to think, the further our society, and our culture, develops.

So, that’s why I started this blog, and it’s precisely why I continue to write. Ideas, like medicine, (even being medicine to some degree) are possessed by all human beings and are, or at least should be, created for the sole purpose of fostering a better world. My intention is to continue to present them in clear and comprehensible forms so that they could live on, perpetually influencing the world as they have for centuries past. I’d like to believe that Plato and Buddha would have been happy; I’d like to believe that their wisdom belongs to us all.

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