"Greetings from Idiot America"
May 12, 2009 9:20 AM   Subscribe

Charles Pierce, author of the 2005 essay "Greetings from Idiot America" decrying the rise of faith-based anti-intellectualism, has expanded his rant into a full length book: Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free. (via)

Previously on MeFi. (link on that post is defunct)

Anti-intellectualism has been around for ages, and has not been restricted to the US. But the American cultural divide was thrust further into the national spotlight during the last election cycle. Further reading: Susan Jacoby's book: The Age of American Unreason (interview on left-wing blog Alternet here,) and 1964's Anti-intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter.

Pierce appears regularly on NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me!, and is a feature writer for Esquire, Slate, The American Prospect and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, usually on sports. He's also the author of several books, including Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer's Story.
posted by zarq (65 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Time and time again I repeat it: The way to create a permanent Left majority is to create a free college education program.
posted by DU at 9:48 AM on May 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


...the way to create a permanent Left majority is to create a free college education program.
Which is why we will never see a free (or even easily affordable) college education program. Sadly, having an easily directed populace depends on a relative lack of education. Which is why public education has been all but gutted in much of the US. Teach them just enough to operate as cubicle drones, but not enough to think about it.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:01 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's the feel-good book of the year. Not a single person who reads it will ever think it applies to him.
posted by jfuller at 10:05 AM on May 12, 2009 [12 favorites]


Feh, he probably likes spicy mustard on his burger too.
posted by greensweater at 10:10 AM on May 12, 2009


Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

So what's his position?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:11 AM on May 12, 2009


Teach them just enough to operate as cubicle drones, but not enough to think about it.

John Dewey, much?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:12 AM on May 12, 2009


Feh, he probably likes spicy mustard on his burger too.

Seriously! When did America become land of the bland as well? I mean, there are pockets of America here and there where you get hot-sauce freaks and hop-heads, but "American cuisine" is bland and homogenous, and only recently have we shed the stereotype that American beers are bland as well.

If it's not interesting, it's not Presidential Food, is my take.
posted by explosion at 10:19 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ironically, mustard on burgers is big in Texas (and I believe Louisiana). I lived in TX for a while as a kid. Mustard or BBQ sauce, always.

How unAmerican of them.
posted by zarq at 10:24 AM on May 12, 2009


That's sure a lot of big fancy words in them tags, there.
posted by rokusan at 10:26 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The current anti-intellectual trend is more a symptom of an underlying social-economic shift that occurred after WWII, namely the rise of the middle class into the majority. No longer were the best and brightest a rare commodity with the majority of Americans blue collar un-schooled working class stiffs - the notion that a few experts decide for the rest of us what to do by an elite few (Great Society) was antithetical to the American ideal of fairness and egalitarianism. So the Republican's caught on to this trend (Nixon, Reagan) and represented the "silent majority" - those members of the football team who form the majority of the team, but who, unlike the star quarterback, get little of the credit or spotlight. The little guy, the guy toiling away for the American dream, forgotten, made to pay for other peoples who don't do their fair share (blacks, hippies); told what to do by East Coast Ivy League Liberal types. The ironic thing, it was the liberal agenda/goal for the rise of the middle class, a more equal spread of wealth - they got it, and a nasty turnabout in return by a "silent majority" who felt alienated and outside the loop.
posted by stbalbach at 10:29 AM on May 12, 2009


"It's the feel-good book of the year. Not a single person who reads it will ever think it applies to him."

Hah! Touché!

As for mustard, although I am not a big fan, I think that spicy mustard makes its way into many fast food burgers. The sauce that Burger King uses on some of their burgers seems to have a hint of it or, at least, a hint of horseradish-like flavor.
posted by bz at 10:39 AM on May 12, 2009


The ironic thing, it was the liberal agenda/goal for the rise of the middle class, a more equal spread of wealth - they got it, and a nasty turnabout in return by a "silent majority" who felt alienated and outside the loop.

stbalbach: I think you're wrong about where the backlash originated. In my experience, the ranks of the so-called silent majority do not predominantly include the middle class who benefited from the post-progressive expansion of opportunity, but from the masses of disenfranchised rural poor who were never fully integrated into modern middle class life and who, as the cultural values and social norms of more economically prosperous urban centers gained increasing currency, began to identify themselves in opposition to those values, largely out of spite over not having shared proportionally in the expansion of economic opportunity. It's in small towns like I grew up in, where there are precious few high paying jobs (median household incomes under $30,000 a year), few opportunities for cultural enrichment, and a profound sense of marginalization, where you'll find the biggest pockets of anti-liberalism, IMO.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:48 AM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Significantly, though these rural populations make up a smaller share of the nation's overall population, our electoral system is designed to increase their relative voting power, ostensibly in the interest of preventing the more densely populated urban centers from steamrolling over them on the sheer strength of numbers.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:53 AM on May 12, 2009


The sauce that Burger King uses on some of their burgers seems to have a hint of it or, at least, a hint of horseradish-like flavor.

The speed at which this discussion turned to which franchise burger condiments are sufficiently American would seem to support his thesis, yes.
posted by mhoye at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


Do I have to read his screed on can I just re-watch "Idiocracy"?
posted by blucevalo at 10:59 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Time and time again I repeat it: The way to create a permanent Left majority is to create a free college education program.
posted by DU at 12:48 PM on May 12


And why in the world would anyone ever want to make permanent a political ideology?

The fact that this article focuses on the creation museum, which caters to fringe outliers of fundamental Christianity, proves that idiocy is not limited to the right - because you'd have to be an idiot to think that everyone on the right believes in creationism. Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

What is the true mark of idiocy in our culture is arguing against the extremes rather than arguing the subtleties. Here's a subtlety for you: no one points out that this article on stupidity appears in a magazine that features a lingerie-clad model on the cover for the sole purpose of enticing the idiots to buy it. The cover also describes articles about what to do this summer ("Drinking!") and what the boundary-pushing films to see this summer, including Terminator: Salvation. But I guess Esquire is just too high-brow for me.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:59 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, saulgoodman. You and your fancy talk.

(Past viewers of 'Idiocracy' may substitute a different word for 'fancy' in the sentence above...didn't want to make this COMPLETE flag-bait).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:01 AM on May 12, 2009


there are pockets of America here and there where you get hot-sauce freaks and hop-heads, but "American cuisine" is bland and homogenous

Hot sauce freaks may not prefer their food bland, but it's just as homogenous. Hot sauce is not the antidote for tasteless food any more than a pile of salt is.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:05 AM on May 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


The speed at which this discussion turned to which franchise burger condiments are sufficiently American would seem to support his thesis, yes.

I have approx 20 seconds of reading time between tasks at work. I don't so much pick my topics as get stuck with them.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:07 AM on May 12, 2009


Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

Pastabagel, oh how I wish these and so many other survey results agreed with you... I'd much rather live in the world you describe.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:10 AM on May 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


The way to create a permanent Left majority is to create a free college education program.

there are lots of college graduates who believe in the same things that idiot america does - it's exactly like arguing that the way to create a permanent left majority is to send people to vo-ed schools
posted by pyramid termite at 11:16 AM on May 12, 2009


"The speed at which this discussion turned to which franchise burger condiments are sufficiently American..."

Oh. Is that what it turned to?
posted by bz at 11:18 AM on May 12, 2009


Can I order Freedom Fries with spicy brown mustard then?
posted by Talanvor at 11:21 AM on May 12, 2009


saulgoodman, That's terribly depressing. :(
posted by zarq at 11:21 AM on May 12, 2009


Seriously, when I go to the Counter Burger -- which has Scantron sheets to fill out, for the ultimate nerd experience-- I like nothing more than a turkey burger, sharp provolone, dill pickle chips, mixed baby greens, roasted chiles, tomatoes, with the roasted garlic aioli. It's best with the half-french-fries half-sweet-potato fries. Aw crap, now I'm hungry.
posted by mark242 at 11:27 AM on May 12, 2009


Pastabagel: Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

Really? Are you sure about that?
posted by aspo at 11:29 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


mustard on burgers is big in Texas

Whataburger. Totally. Burgers with no ketchup or even catsup. Mustard for days.

yum. I'll be in Whataburger territory later this week. Can't wait.
posted by hippybear at 11:30 AM on May 12, 2009


Brought to you by Carl's Jr.
posted by Clave at 11:35 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Question: Is there a voice or leader of Idiot America?

Charles P. Pierce: The leaders of Idiot America are those people who abandoned their obligations to the above. There are lots of people making an awful lot of money selling their ideas and their wares to Idiot America. Idiot America is an act of collective will, a product of lassitude and sloth.

...

Question: With the election of President Obama, is Idiot America coming to an end? Or, will there always be a place for idiocy in America?

Charles P. Pierce: Look at the political opposition to President Obama. “Socialist!” “Fascist!” “Coming to get your guns.” Hysteria from the hucksters of Idiot America is still at high-tide. People are killing other people and specifically attributing their action to imaginary oppression stoked by radio talk-show stars and television pundits. That Glenn Beck has achieved the prominence he has makes me wonder if there is a just god in heaven.
<>

I think he is right and that we will see this continue as long as there remains money or power to be obtained from it.

posted by caddis at 11:38 AM on May 12, 2009


I feel like a very real shift occurred on the right in the last decade where the social conservatives and the economic conservatives decided you had to eat the whole burger the GOP coalition was serving up.

Thus you'd get WSJ readers talking to you about the War On Christmas, and Bible Belters talking about taxes killing off small business, etc. It accelerated after the 2004 election, when Rove started floating the rhetoric of a permanent Republican majority. Conservatives shed any non-platform opinions they held, lest they get left off the winning team. So social conservative who'd have been keeping their savings in a small town bank started talking about privatizing social security, and economic conservatives became anti-intellectual.
posted by bendybendy at 11:43 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]



Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

Really?
posted by notreally at 11:49 AM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


The fact that this article focuses on the creation museum, which caters to fringe outliers of fundamental Christianity, proves that idiocy is not limited to the right - because you'd have to be an idiot to think that everyone on the right believes in creationism. Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

Fringe outliers like roughly 45% of Americans? Here is the Gallup poll on public belief in evolution & creationism. Since 1982 the poll has changed very little. According to Gallup, today, a record high 14% of the public believes in evolution by natural selection, whereas 44% are young-earth creationists. 35-40% of the population proclaim to believe in evolution, but only with the caveat that evolution only appears to be the result of a natural mechanism and a deity is doing everything behind the scenes.

You'd have to be willfully blind to think creationism is a fringe view in the US. Either that, or I'm an idiot for believing the available polling data hasn't been grossly misrepresenting public sentiment for 26 years. Which is it, pastabagel?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:56 AM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Didn't mean to derail the thread right off the bat with the mustard comment; I just thought it was kind of funny that the "brown mustard flamewar" article appears in the sidebar on Esquire while we revisit the original essay from '05. Still playing the anti-elitist angle -- really? Brown mustard is elitist? Does it make you smart? Does it make you believe in science?

Seems to me these are the exact kinds of sentiments that helped to defeat the GOP in November and continue to hobble them as they try to rebuild. These are the things I thought of when I thought of "hope." Yes we can... get our collective heads out of our asses.

Clearly there is a long road ahead.
posted by greensweater at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously! When did America become land of the bland as well?

My towboat captain father likes to tell stories about the goofy N. Carolina deckhands he has to work with. One of the recurring themes is their insistence on bland food... to the point of turning down fresh ground black pepper. Too strong for them.
posted by brundlefly at 12:35 PM on May 12, 2009


It's the feel-good book of the year. Not a single person who reads it will ever think it applies to him.
posted by jfuller at 10:05 AM on May 12


I get your point, but it's also true in another sense: the "idiots" don't read. So yeah, I guess you're right, but for the wrong reasons.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:36 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:59 AM on May 12


Pastabagel, I sure wish you'd come back and talk about the surveys that saulgoodman, aspo, and [expletive deleted] linked to. Despite your intelligence, you've developed this weird knee-jerk habit about MeFi LOLXTIANISM that seems to have fucked with your judgment. You are absolutely wrong: almost everyone on the the right does believe in creationism.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:42 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


almost everyone on the the right does believe in creationism.

Well, no. The power brokers of the right pay lip service to creationism because it's what they think people want. What they actually believe, beyond pursuing power, is anybody's guess.
posted by GuyZero at 12:59 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:59 AM on May 12


Pastabagel, I sure wish you'd come back and talk about the surveys that saulgoodman, aspo, and [expletive deleted] linked to. Despite your intelligence, you've developed this weird knee-jerk habit about MeFi LOLXTIANISM that seems to have fucked with your judgment. You are absolutely wrong: almost everyone on the the right does believe in creationism.

No no no. I see what Pastabagel is doing there. He's borrowing from the Republican strategy book and saying a baldfaced lie like it's true. If you say it often enough, the sheeples will take it as true.

Clever, Mr. Pastabagel. Verrrrrrrry clever!
posted by papercake at 1:20 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The power brokers of the left and right pay lip service to creationism everything because it's what they think people want. What they actually believe, beyond pursuing power, is anybody's guess.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:21 PM on May 12, 2009


The power brokers of the left and right pay lip service to creationism everything because it's what they think people want. What they actually believe, beyond pursuing power, is anybody's guess.

It has long been my contention that our electoral system is really really good at electing people to office that are good at getting elected to things, but not much else.

posted by hippybear at 1:31 PM on May 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I get your point, but it's also true in another sense: the "idiots" don't read. So yeah, I guess you're right, but for the wrong reasons.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 3:36 PM on May 12 [+] [!]


All of Ann Coulter's books have been on the NYT best seller list.
posted by stavrogin at 1:43 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, no. The power brokers of the right pay lip service to creationism because it's what they think people want. What they actually believe, beyond pursuing power, is anybody's guess.
posted by GuyZero at 12:59 PM on May 12


The power brokers of the right make up about 0.04% of the total. Whatever they happen to believe does not change in any significant way what the people on the right as a whole believe.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:48 PM on May 12, 2009


The irony of Charlie Pierce writing a book about how anti-intellectualism is A Bad Thing is making my head explode.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:25 PM on May 12, 2009


Just jumping in here to enthusiastically recommend Susan Jacoby's book, mentioned in the post.
posted by inoculatedcities at 3:34 PM on May 12, 2009


Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

Hmm. Where do you live, Pastabagel? Because many Christians in my humble part of midwest America would adamantly disagree with you--including a few (regrettably) from my own family. Do you have any citations to share with the rest of us?
posted by belvidere at 4:04 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And jumping in here to say that if the rest of Jacoby's book is as sloppy as the claims she makes about my co-author, it's a very ironic book for her to have written. She not only got his specialty (he's a psychiatrist, not a neurologist) and his interests (he studies trauma, not "disruptive children") wrong but had him obliquely supporting separate education for boys and girls, which he doesn't, using a quote out of context from Newsweek.

It was pretty sad, given that she was critiquing the culture for being intellectually shallow but didn't herself bother to go beyond a secondary source and check out what he actually does.
posted by Maias at 4:22 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


No citations, I guess.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:45 PM on May 12, 2009


60% of republicans believe in creationism.

It's undoubtedly disturbingly high.

Also, 38% of Democrats also believe that humans were created by god, as is, slightly after breakfast on Monday the 1st 10 000 BC. It is believed god had been eating bacon.

Stating that almost all on the right believe in creationism is incorrect.
posted by sien at 5:35 PM on May 12, 2009


"You don't need to be credible on television," explains Keith Olbermann..."

And he would know. I personally look only to snarky sports anchors for all of my information needs.

"And that's what they get -- two or three million frustrated paranoids who sit in front of the TV and go, 'Damn right, it's those liberals' fault.' Or, 'It's those -- what's the word for it? -- college graduates' fault.' "

And what better way to convince people to look at things a different way than by calling them uneducated, paranoid idiots?

The reason Obama got elected is much the same reason Reagan did; he talked to people not at them. Why is that so hard to understand?
posted by MikeMc at 5:36 PM on May 12, 2009


It has long been my contention that our electoral system is really really good at electing people to office that are good at getting elected to things, but not much else.

It's evolution in action. Micro-evolution though.

I do not look forward to an entire separate species of politicians.
posted by GuyZero at 5:36 PM on May 12, 2009


i find the idea that america was founded as an intellectual nation and about as credible as that it was founded as Christian nation. I guess we all have to invent our myths to make ourselves the special victims and true patriots of our times.
posted by nangua at 5:39 PM on May 12, 2009


bitter-girl.com:(Past viewers of 'Idiocracy' may substitute a different word for 'fancy' in the sentence above...didn't want to make this COMPLETE flag-bait).

Your output is all differently-abled and you talk like a homosexual.
posted by dr_dank at 5:42 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you watched the movie "Idiocracy", you may remember that the initial assumption was that people with the lowest mental skills breed the most, possibily because they just can't figure out how contraception works while having nothing to do all day long, while the most educated people postpone reproduction indefinitely in order to fulfill their career and success dreams. That would lead, in a few generations, to extinction of educated intelligent people and to a world ruled by people who are not self sufficient, relying entirely on automation and computers to survive, while not being able to repair or improve those essential infrastructures.

It seems evident to me that the director used exaggeration and a pseudo-darwinian idea of "success of the most breeding species" to criticize
"mass produced culture", as delivered by mass media, seen as the primary factor of the cultural decline of mankind.

The fault is not in the means of distribution, as mass media can also enable mass education, but in the fact that advertisement financed mass media
often don't promote education and critical thinking, but rather acritical consumption, sometimes by appealing to logical errors (if everybody else is doing it, it must be right ), sometimes by reinforcing fears (if i don't own that thing, I will be left out of the group of nice people) or by other means that affect also the most educated people, even if sometimes they vehemently deny any such influence.

In order to captivate the audience and make it more sensible to advertising, the mass media sometimes are paid to deliver programs imbued with suggestions that reinforce a desire for "needs" that sometime are entirely artificial, such as that of possessing 20 different pair of shoes or dresses (a little provocation : Sex and City is a giant advertising, expecially the movie, revolving around sexual insecurities). Such programs go well beyond the standard mission of advertisting, which is that of letting people know about the existence of a product, as they help creating and shaping demand.

As the number of hours available for entertainment and education are limited, constructive education leading to critical rational thinking is likely to be displaced by incessant variations of infomercials, by political propaganda fluff pieces disguised as news, religious indoctrination disguised as alternative science, all of these protected by any criticism by framing them as an attack to "freedom", or with an "ad hominem" attack to critics, equated to snob "elitists" and disposed of as such, or by framing criticism as "lack of respect". Advertisers, political or religious parties are not interested into educating, but rather in having people "buy" stuff or concepts, as that is what affects their bottom line directly. If critical and rational thinking and education doesn't help forming consesus, it doesn't need to be opposed, it just needs not to be financed.

And if financing education is seen as undesiderable, I think there's something completely wrong going on.


On a tangent : I think it is important to avoid the error of associating ignorance with idiocy, as it may lead some to think that ignorance implies idiocy. Ignoring means "not knowing" it does not mean "being a person of the lowest order in a former classification of mental retardation, having a mental age of less than three years old and an intelligence quotient under 25" , which instead is one definition of idiocy.I think one should also not accept the notion that people are to be blamed for their own ignorance and that, therefore, they do deserve whatever happens to them. Ignorance is not a vice or a personal fault, but lacking a better definition I guess it's a status in which humans are born and in which we always remain to a degree.

(On a double tangent: Adorno is spinning in his grave ? Any sociologist in here?)
posted by elpapacito at 5:48 PM on May 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


That would lead, in a few generations, to extinction of educated intelligent people

Thankfully, even after repeated attempts, no one has been able to breed people for either intelligence or stupidity. This is humanity's one true salvation.
posted by GuyZero at 5:54 PM on May 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think one should also not accept the notion that people are to be blamed for their own ignorance and that, therefore, they do deserve whatever happens to them. Ignorance is not a vice or a personal fault, but lacking a better definition I guess it's a status in which humans are born and in which we always remain to a degree.

Willful Ignorance
posted by metagnathous at 6:07 PM on May 12, 2009


I went to an Answers in Genesis conference in my town as a teenager. Even for a reasonably sympathetic and biology ignorant Christian teenager, the whole thing was over the top and silly. I remember a Raffi-like folk singer entertaining everybody with tales of people walking with dinosaurs and the like. Oddly enough, it did include a pretty damning critique of Intelligent Design's merits from a fundamentalist perspective. A year or so after the AIG event, I read Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller. His sympathetic analysis of why Christians are suspicious of evolution and science in general did more to reconcile me to the truth of evolution than anything. That said it's not right to think of these folks as idiots. A lot of Christians are under the impression that anti-evolutionism is a necessary part of the package. This leads even smart, rational people to believe crazy things. I suspect that these were the people Gould was after with his talk of non-overlapping magisterium and peaceful coexistence between science and religion. Unfortunately, voices most of these people hear representing science are folks like Dawkins who want to use evolution as a cudgel to beat their treasured beliefs into obscurity.
posted by nangua at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2009


Willful Ignorance :

This practice is most commonly found in the political or religious ideologies of "conservative" Americans.

It's found anywhere. Dissonant information, expecially undermining one's faith, is likely to be rejected , also out of :

laziness--people not wanting to have to do the work to rethink their opinions, the fear of the unknown, the fear of being wrong, or sometimes simply close-mindedness.

Laziness plays a part indeed, but what causes this laziness? Possibily one factor is the lack of a perceived payoff, as sometimes knowing doesn't yeld an instant result or the reward is not evident. As for fear of the unknow, up to a degree being fearful is certainly rewarding as being completely fearless implies not evaluating any potential risk, thus exposing one's life to real dangers. As for fear of being wrong, it could be related to fear of being negatively judged by others, which some describe as an evolutionary feautere as people tend to live in communities and don't want to be rejected, thus losing the perceived sense of security given by being in a group of peers.

These fears can be reduced.
posted by elpapacito at 6:28 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


All very good points, elpapacito. It's amazing how people can live their whole lives in their little bubbles, associating mostly with people who think much like they themselves do. That Urban Dictionary entry is obviously biased, as willful ignorance isn't the sole domain of religious conservatives, not by a long shot. The link was handy, though, and ultimately I do suspect that much of the ignorance out there in the world is willfull, if not necessarily conscious.

One thing about ignorance: once you've divested yourself of it there's no going back.
posted by metagnathous at 7:09 PM on May 12, 2009


Unfortunately, voices most of these people hear representing science are folks like Dawkins who want to use evolution as a cudgel to beat their treasured beliefs into obscurity.

Sure; but if the rest of their "treasured beliefs" are just as illogical and stupid as young-earth Creationism, then game on.

It's been my experience that young-earth creationism is just the most obvious sign of reality-ignoring literalism. Even if you could somehow excise the Adam-and-Eve-riding-dinosaurs business, you'd still be left with a laundry list of Bad Ideas.

The problem is fundamentalism, it's not just creationism. Frankly I think it's great that the fundies seem to have latched onto the young-earth thing; it makes them a lot easier to spot and also goes a long way towards self-marginalization.

Obvious fundamentalism that you can point and laugh at (which I fully support; ridicule is an immensely powerful tool for social sanction) is not nearly as dangerous as creeping non-secularism among the otherwise well-educated. Thankfully I don't think that's really a concern; the numbers show that acceptance of evolution in the US, while low compared to other parts of the world, is actually trending upwards over time when you factor in demographics.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:11 PM on May 12, 2009


Laziness plays a part indeed, but what causes this laziness? Possibily one factor is the lack of a perceived payoff, as sometimes knowing doesn't yeld an instant result or the reward is not evident.

Excellent point. What exactly would be the payoff be for rejecting dinosaur riding Jesus in favor of Darwin? None that I can think of. You run the risk of alienating your family and peers to gain...? It's not as if by rejecting Christianity, or at least parts of it, you will suddenly be invited to cocktail parties by the same people that thought you an ignorant redneck yesterday. I rejected religion based not on science or reason but on the "gut feeling" that this shit just didn't make any sense. In the intro to the first article Mr. Pierce was kind enough to point out that "Trusting ones gut" is apparently a sign of idiocy. Sometimes you just can't win.
posted by MikeMc at 7:51 PM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The reason Obama got elected is much the same reason Reagan did; he talked to people not at them. Why is that so hard to understand?

I agree to a large extent. Reagan played the race card, the class card and all the other GOP dirty tricks, but fundamentally he believed in the conservative ideals of low taxes, freedom etc. He also had Obama's gift for communication, but perhaps at a much higher level. I think Obama truly seeks to communicate on a level of pure truth (although this WILL change as his time in office goes on). Ronnie was far less the professor, and far more the preacher with less complex ideas. Reagan's tone, and many of his ideas, were right for the time. His tax policy changes were incredibly progressive. He lowered the top tax rate, but he also eliminated very, very many of the preference items that top earners used to shelter income. You haven't seen anything this fair and this progressive out of any Democrat in recent memory and you are not likely to either. Getting back to the main point, Ronnie did talk to people in that he had some basic ideas about how government should work and he articulated them very well, so well that even people who might not benefit from them were convinced. He contrasts sharply with the GW admin in that he valued ideas over partisanship and loyalty, although those ideals have been pursued in every administration. He lacked Obama's professorial intellect, but there remain many parallels.
posted by caddis at 11:39 PM on May 12, 2009


Almost everyone on the right, including almost all Christians do not believe in creationism.

How the fuck is that even possible? What, you just skip the whole Genesis part?
posted by c13 at 12:25 AM on May 13, 2009


fundamentally he believed in the conservative ideals of low taxes, freedom etc.

Just not in small government. (watch the line after 1980.)
posted by jb at 6:48 AM on May 13, 2009


It's amazing how people can live their whole lives in their little bubbles, associating mostly with people who think much like they themselves do.

A former bandmate/ex-friend of mine actually once said, to paraphrase, that she believed we should all just live and let each other live in our own little fantasy bubbles. No lie--she actually used the phrase "little fantasy bubbles" in an approving way.

That was one of my first signs that things had somehow gone terribly wrong in Ami-land.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 AM on May 13, 2009


How the fuck is that {Christianity without creationism} even possible? What, you just skip the whole Genesis part?

It's a metaphorical creation story told by pre-scientific people; the important thing to take away from it is the motif that God is at the heart of nature. ~~~~ my takeaway from 22 years of being a Catholic, including 8 years of CCD (the Catholic equivalent of Sunday School), and 15 years of being an Episcopalian.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:17 AM on May 13, 2009


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