Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston

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Seen on Boston Common Today

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Fact: Not a single Nazi was the victim of vehicular homicide in Boston today.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

INHERIT THE IGNORANCE

Apparently, in order to be supported by the GOP's base, a presidential candidate must debase him/herself and announce to the world his/her distrust of science. All of the presidential contenders, save for Jon Huntsman, have proudly voiced their doubts about Evolution as settled science, thus making monkeys of themselves in the eyes of enlightened minds in all corners of the world. All corners except in America, where we are at the bottom of the heap in all surveys that ask what percentage of our population accepts Evolution. Only Turkey is lower than we are.

This will warm the hearts of wilfull know-nothings and ensure that their children will carry on in their tradition of believing in a book written by Bronze Age superstitious, women-hating, old men. Good on them.
No amount of evidence will ever dissuade these types from their inscient world view. And as the presidential popularity polls show, the dumb and the ignorant will surely inherit the top Republican polling spot.




Here is Richard Dawkins, eminent ethologist and evolutionary biologist with his take on the lastest embarrassment from the GOP, Governor Rick Perry:


"There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

Any other organization -- a big corporation, say, or a university, or a learned society - -when seeking a new leader, will go to immense trouble over the choice. The CVs of candidates and their portfolios of relevant experience are meticulously scrutinized, their publications are read by a learned committee, references are taken up and scrupulously discussed, the candidates are subjected to rigorous interviews and vetting procedures. Mistakes are still made, but not through lack of serious effort.

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.

Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

[skip]

There are many reasons to vote against Rick Perry. His fatuous stance on the teaching of evolution in schools is perhaps not the first reason that springs to mind. But maybe it is the most telling litmus test of the other reasons, and it seems to apply not just to him but, lamentably, to all the likely contenders for the Republican nomination. The ‘evolution question’ deserves a prominent place in the list of questions put to candidates in interviews and public debates during the course of the coming election."

Richard Dawkins wrote this response to Governor Perry for On Faith, the Washington Post’s forum for news and opinion on religion and politics.

13 comments:

Infidel753 said...

Actually, it seems clear that Chris Christie accepts evolution, but he doesn't like being asked about it. It can be embarrassing to get caught accepting reality in today's Republican party.

The US does rank at the bottom among developed countries in acceptance of evolution, with the exception of Turkey (those surveys are based on the dubious classification of Turkey as a developed country -- if you don't include it, we're dead last).

The timidity of the schools is partly to blame. Most people who reject evolution don't really know what it is (they think it's a "random" process). I very much doubt Rick Perry knows what it is either.

Leslie Parsley said...

I just thank God every day that my mom divorced my dad, so that I wasn't tainted by his beliefs and his family's beliefs.

Rational Nation USA said...

And I thank the rationality of my father and mother {both believers} for encouraging me and then allowing me to believe as I determined made sense.

Silverfiddle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shaw Kenawe said...

Infidel753,
I don't get why a major political party would encourage people to view it as anti-science, and anti-evolution in particular. Why would a political party deliberately make itself look ignorant?

Leslie,

Not all religions are opposed to facts--but a good deal of fundamentalism does--the Bible can, to some people, be an allegorical source of inspiring myths, but it has nothing to do with science.

RN-USA,

I was raised in the Catholic religion, but in an Italian family, religion was a vehicle for celebrating holidays, and not a cudgel used to instill fear in us and make us conform to dogma.

Shaw Kenawe said...

SF,

I don't see where Dawkins introduces any doubt about how "it all got started" into the settled science of evolution in these remarks:

"...a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well.

Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.


If there are people in this country who doubt that evolution is a fact because of something written in a book that's been mistranslated over millennia that's their unfortunate problem, not mine.

Harv said...

Silverfiddle says: "Even the brilliant Richard Dawkins cannot explain how it all got started."

Assuming one cannot "explain how it all got started", it does not follow that every speculation on the topic is valid or equivalent in merit. And is most certainly does not follow that "it all got started" by virtue of some anthropomorphic heavenly father. Such a "theory" merely begs the question of the origin of the "creator". Thus, the answer to one obscurity is merely substituted for another. That is not science.

Octopus said...

Shaw,
The proper term is "Error of Mystification" which posits that there are realms of knowledge beyond the reaches of science. It is a logical fallacy as fallacious as any, and the one most often flung by the ignorati.

It should be noted that even the Catholic Church, burned by its own self-inflcited Galileo debacle, now maintains a peaceful coexistence with science. Only the American ignorati are unique and tenacious in their anti-science, anti-intellectual posturing, and there is no way any village idiot can turn piles of dog shit back into a Milkbone.

I deleted SF's comment because he has a history of extreme UNETHICAL behavior in our respective forums.

Infidel753 said...

Evolution does not, and does not claim to, explain how life began; this is a common misconception. Evolution explains the development of life once it, or at least self-replicating structures of some sort, existed. How life started in the first place is an interesting question (and one which also doesn't require supernatural intervention), but it's a separate question from evolution.

Kanzeon said...

This isn't a question of ignorance. It is a question of commonplace propaganda. People disbelieve in global warming because of misinformation from people who are quite scientifically literate but profit from a lack of regulation. Most people don't care much about the origin of the species; they only have an opinion because a political and religious machine misinforms them.

All partisans tend to be stupid and out of touch with reality, not just Republicans. I think it is about as dumb to have believed that Obama was going to be a progressive, antiwar hero or the next coming of FDR because he made a speech while a state senator as it is to believe that global warming or evolution are hoaxes. People tend to accept mythologies of the tribe they select. Some people are more tribal than others, and they are more likely to believe things at odds with reality. They are the people who influence the candidates' speeches in primary season.

It isn't good for any politician, in any country, to display too much intelligence. Ambiguity and complexity doesn't win hearts and minds, especially among the propaganda-loaded partisans.

The Republican propaganda apparatus holds some selectively anti-science views, to keep their fundamentalists faithful and to serve their anti-regulation donors. The politicians running may genuinely hold these views; it is hard to tell. This isn't any sign of particular American flaws, stupidity among Republicans, or anything but the ordinary workings of political machines.

Octopus said...

"People disbelieve in global warming because of misinformation from people who are quite scientifically literate but profit from a lack of regulation ... This isn't any sign of particular American flaws, stupidity among Republicans, or anything but the ordinary workings of political machines."

Bullshit! People disbelieve in global warming because of deception from a well-financed oil lobby that wants to preserve its dirty fucking franchise. Bullshit because hired assassins illegally hacked into scientists' website and then lied about the contents. Is there something about the word "illegal" that you don't understand?

Bullshit because men like Virginia Attorney General Michael Cuccinelli abused their powers of office to persecute a well-known and respected climate scientist.

Bullshit because Tea Party proto-fascists held the country hostage over national debt, which resulted in a credit rating downgrade by S&P and the loss of $2 trillion in equity values.

Bullshit because Republicans have a hidden agenda: To dismantle FEMA, the EPA, Medicare, Social Security, defined-benefit pension and retirement accounts, union rights, and ... the U.S. Weather Service.

Bullshit because Republicans take money from thugs like the Koch family, who have a monopoly on formaldehyde production, which causes leukemia in children, and who want the American public to believe formaldehyde is harmless so the Koch family can make even more money ... notwithstanding the damnable cost in human life!

Bullshit because Republicans run for office on one platform, then sneak their hidden agendas under the radar.

Systemic lying and deception ... which suckers the American public every time because most voters are too fucking lazy or too fucking ignorant to fact check the bullshit.

James Martin said...

Reading Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" for the second time, I was reminded that the most common ignoramus claim of the believers is, "Evolution is just a theory." The perfect answer is: "So is the theory of gravity. We tested it out."

BB-Idaho said...

Clearly a reprise of the 1840-50
'Know Nothing' Party....