Posts Tagged “anti-intellectualism”

Gallup (graph) / In U.S., 46% Hold Creationist View of Human OriginsI don’t normally consider poll or survey results to be newsworthy, but a recent survey paints a sobering picture of how Americans think. It seems we still have a long way to go before we can emerge from the Dark Ages. Gallup reports that about as many Americans believe in Creationism today, as believed in it some three decades ago (WebCite cached article):

Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process.

Stupefyingly, the Gallup report makes statements that would be obvious even without having to conduct a survey; such as, “the most religious Americans are most likely to be Creationists.” I mean, seriously … did they think they’d get any other results? Gimme a break! Also, Gallup makes this observation about the disparity between acceptance of Creationism by Republicans and others:

The major distinction is between Republicans and everyone else. While 58% of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, 39% of independents and 41% of Democrats agree.

While Gallup considers this is a huge difference, I don’t. That 41% of Democrats and 39% of independents are Creationists, is still not comforting. 39% of any sizable block of the population believing in nonsensical ancient fairy-tales is by no means an achievement to be trumpeted aloud. Quite the contrary, it’s a fucking disgrace!

The scientific consensus … which back in 1982 had already long settled on the idea that the Earth is billions of years old, that evolution happens, and that it produced humanity … has only solidified since then. Yet the general population remains unconvinced. This sure looks to me like an example of the backfire effect at work, something I’ve blogged about before. People with false beliefs tend to resist correction, even when the correction is irrefutable. In fact, the more compelling the refutation, the more strongly they resist it. This is why, for example, there are a lot of people who still insist that Barack Obama is not a US citizen, even though it’s been demonstrated — with compelling and unassailable evidence — that he most assuredly is a citizen. Birthers just dig their heels in on the matter, and like tiny little children, simply refuse to listen to anything that runs contrary to their screwy thinking.

It works the same for Creationists. They simply define the science that proves them wrong, as “a tool of Satan” designed to lead people astray from what they view as “the Truth.” The more science — and scientists — keep insisting they haven’t a fucking clue what they’re talking about (which, quite obviously, they don’t), the more convinced Creationists become that science and scientists are tools of the Devil, to be derided and condemned as such, and to be viewed as a dire enemy. There’s no amount of refutation they’ll accept, because they’ve chosen in advance to dismiss any possibility of refutation.

Which is why I find it odd that so many of them whine and bellyache about how “closed-minded” skeptics and scientists are. In truth, they are the ones who are “closed-minded.”

Hat tip: CNN Belief Blog.

Photo credit: Gallup.

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Satan, as drawn by Gustave Doré, in John Milton's Paradise Lost.Rick Santorum is an agnostic blogger’s dream. Almost daily the guy trots out some insipid, moronic Christofascist comment or other. Among other things, he claims to be an expert on theology, and you may remember he once said the Crusades were not “aggression.” Well, he’s made news this week due to remarks he made — but four years ago, back in 2008. I’m not sure why they surfaced only just now (courtesy of the extreme Leftists at Right Wing Watch), but the mass media are now all abuzz about them, and that would include the folks at CBS News (WebCite cached version):

Santorum said in August 2008 that “Satan has his sights set” on the United States of America, adding that “the Father of Lies” is using vice to go after the nation’s great institutions.

“Satan [has been] attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition,” Santorum said at Ave Maria University in Florida in 2008. …

According to Santorum, academia was Satan’s first beachhead:

Santorum goes on to say that Satan has been “most successful and first successful” in attacking academia, saying Satan exploited the “pride of smart people.”

This, of course, is standard Religious Right anti-intellectual fare. Not too surprising — except for irony of him making this comment in the middle of a university. I expect a guy like Santorum to attack those evil communistic university-types, but he went on to attack a different target:

Then, he said, Satan went after the church, and now “we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”

What makes this unfortunate for Santorum is that the Religious Right which makes or breaks GOP presidential candidates is made up primarily of Protestant evangelicals. I’m not sure how amenable they’ll be to the assertion that “mainline Protestantism … is in shambles.” Of course, if they like Santorum enough, they might very well just ignore it, or perhaps rationalize it away as his effort to pander to a Catholic school audience.

As I said, this has caused quite a stir in the news over the last few days, as though it’s somehow incredible or remarkable; but most of the tropes in this 2008 speech — especially the assertion that Satan has conquered universities — are just standard Religious Rightist fare. I wonder if the fact that I graduated from a public university would make Santorum think I’m a tool of Satan … ?

I’ll close this post with the portion of the speech that Right Wing Watch has made available via Youtube:

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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