The dichotomy between the arts and the sciences, central to Charles Percy Snow's critique of higher education and culture in general has fragmented further over the half century since he stated the fracture’s existence.
By focusing on modern biology, nuclear physics and atmospheric sciences, this fracturing reveals a more profound split within the arts and within the sciences that have fed the persistence of anti-intellectualism among the wider culture.
This distrust of expertise, though healthy, can be seen in the misunderstanding of Darwinism, Cloning and Nuclear Fission, though there are other bodies of knowledge in science that have been equally confused by a growing sector of literate, though not well-informed, interpreters of science.
Richard Dawkins sights an example of this without divulging the author in his recent work The Ancestor’s Tale. We must start from first principles that “biological evolution has no privileged line of descent and no designated end.” (4)
The late Ernst Mayr, Stephen J, Gould and Mark Ridley, who are all evolutionary biologists of impressive repute, share that perspective. Yet there persists some renewed popular hostility to Darwinism from so called “creationists” and just as significant is a misunderstanding of evolution among the learned writers.
This is particularly of an otherwise good book that Dawkins’ rightfully criticizes in this context. Dawkins indicates that the author he is reviewing is wrong when he suggested that Homo habilis was ‘considerably more evolved than Australopithecine's’.
More evolved?” Dawkins asks, “ What can this mean but that evolution is moving in some pre-specified direction?” (5)
What we may have here is a failure to bridge the ever-widening gulf between the expression (arts) of what we know (science) of the world and the methods we have so carefully used to dispel errors in what we know.
Or is it some other failure?