Those ignorant and superstitious peoples who promote ignorant superstitions as a legitimate world view cannot be blamed for their stupidity as they have no tools with which to rationally adjust their beliefs.
Those educated peoples who promote ignorant superstitions as a legitimate world view are self indulgent anti-rational sub humans who chose the act of lying to oneself in the face of contradictory evidence to avoid the loss of an arbitrary world view they have "chosen" to believe in.
I would come at it from a different angle. Throughout all of recorded history, on every corner of planet earth, human beings have asked the huge questions of "why" and "how" and "what" about their physical environments and about the events that impact on their lives. This characteristic is part of the human legacy.
For ancient people, science and philosophy and religion were all interchangeable. Why is this flood/ drought/ storm killing our crops? How do we prevent sickness / keep our society strong? What is on the other side of this uncrossable ocean/ desert/ mountain range? What are the stars and the moon?
And each ancient society came up with answers. Today, we look at most of those answers as easily disprovable superstitions. We know about weather patterns. We know about bacteria. We've studied and created models for various social and governmental and economic structures, and even though there is not a global consensus on what is best, we know there are models that work somewhat, and models that fail. We know a great deal about the geography of our planet, and we know more and more every day about the nature of the stars and the moon and the planets that populate our solar system and our galaxy.
So we are quite a bit less ignorant than our ancestors.
There are lots of questions we don't know the answer to. The nature of the universe. Does it end? Is it infinite? Are there multiple universes? The experts speculate, and those of us who are not experts either fall into the camp of current experts or decide that we are just going to accept that we don't know.
But these folks in Angola have looked at these magical circles for countless generations, created their stories and explanations, and quite frankly, since this is a very localized phenomenon, no one from outside the region has ever really investigated the causes. And the local people, plagued with wars and post-colonization issues and poverty and rampant illiteracy in the context of a developing world, have not had the resources to investigate this wonder of nature. It has not been a priority.
So I guess I sort of agree with you. Educated people who promote the concept that god is sending hurricanes to punish the masses for our sins are offensively ignorant. But I don't know that I would call these folks in Angola ignorant. They are just telling the same stories and giving the same explanations that their ancestors told countless generations ago. And no one every bothered to provide a viable scientific explanation until recently.
Here is an NPR piece to go with the NY Times piece. http://www.npr.org/2013/03/28/175369153/whats-behind-the-fairy-circles-that-dot-west-africa
Thanks for sharing this fascinating story.
Huh. IMO, the "termites engaging in large-scale eco-engineering" model sounds a lot cooler and more amazing than the "footprints of a god" or "dragon with bad breath" models.
Now if only we humans could learn how to make our habitations as beneficial for surrounding life...
I couldn't agree more!