(Anti)Scientific American

Robert Benson reported Monday in Miller-McClune that

More than half of the incoming Republican caucus denies the validity of climate change science. Some 74 percent of Republicans in the U.S. Senate now take that stance, as do 53 percent of GOP in the House.

As Benson notes, you have to go back to the Snopes Monkey Trials of 1925 to find this level of anti-science nuttiness. Then, of course, the issue was teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution in public schools. Although that issue has once again come to the fore–last week a Texas Republican introduced a bill that would protect proponents of “Intelligent Design” from discrimination by misguided individuals who are persuaded by facts–the primary focus of the anti-science zealots now is climate change.

This rejection of science and refusal to acknowledge facts are meaningful is best characterized by Charles Pierce in his Esquire essay from 2005 titled “Greetings from Idiot America” which I will quote at length:

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.” The president’s former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the “yuck factor.” The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

Pierce is writing this after his visit to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky in 2005, but he could be writing about any tea party, “tenther,” or congressional gathering today.

As someone who lives in the reality based community, I find it want to dismiss these idiots as the fringe element, but I can’t. We now have a generation of young people who have been home-schooled or charter-schooled to serve “Idiot America.” Hell, we even have a few colleges producing gradates in various fields who are dedicated to this cause.

I fear for the future of this country.

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