Cause And Effect, Perhaps?

by tristero

Summarizing a report from the oversight agency for the National Science Foundation, the New York Times writes,
The United States remains the world leader in scientific and technological innovation, but its dominance is threatened by economic development elsewhere, particularly in Asia, the National Science Board said Tuesday in its biennial report on science and engineering...

Many Americans remain ignorant about much of science, the board said. Many are unable to answer correctly when asked whether Earth moves around the Sun (it does).

They are not noticeably more ignorant than people in other developed countries except on two subjects, evolution and the Big Bang. Although these ideas are organizing principles underlying modern biology and physics, many Americans do not accept them.

“These differences probably indicate that many Americans hold religious beliefs that cause them to be skeptical of established scientific ideas,” the report said, “even when they have some basic familiarity with those ideas.”
Pretty funny in-joke the Times pulled by informing its readers the Earth does move around the Sun. As if they didn't know. Hah, hah, hah! Or maybe it's no joke at all, just tellingly pathetic.

Meanwhile, here's what Michael Huckabee, GOP frontrunner, said two days ago:
'I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution,' Huckabee told a Michigan audience on Monday. 'But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living god. And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view.'
Looks like Huckabee opened the kimono, as they used to say in Silicon Valley. And there, in all his naked repulsiveness, stands a ruthless, ignorant, far right theocrat, just a shade less bizarre than Rushdoony.*

No doubt there are many causes for our scientific illiteracy - American ignorance has many parents. But given the enthusiasm and ruthlessness with which christianists like Huckabee have proactively undermined education, surely anti-science intimidation by religious fanatics represents one very significant portion of the problem.

Thing I'm making too much out of the ravings of a few lunatics on county school boards and a Jim Nabors- wannabe with no real chance to become president? Well, here's a recent chilling anecdote, one of many similar stories, all over the country:
I taught sixth grade in Texas for three years 2001-2004. During that time, I was absolutely warned to not begin to say the word “evolution” or we would have every preacher in the district, as well as the media, breathing down our necks, and then there would truly be no teaching or learning. Sadly, I needed the position, so I played the “hide the issue and hide the learning” game.

Every time I tell this story, usually at a dinner party, people look at me like I am reliving some ancient past. I remind them that this policy ruled only two years ago – and in their progressive community. Like many issues that are easier to disbelieve than to address, people inevitably choose disbelief.

It is more difficult for me to choose disbelief, but over time, even I can begin to question my experience. So several weeks ago, I decided to test the continued use of this policy. I interviewed with a high school in Fort Bend and asked if I could use current events in the English classroom to explore why real evolution education is often an inoculation against racism and eugenic posturing. The interviewer quickly replied, “We do not challenge the sensitive “beliefs” of our student community.”

Too bad, … our most ill-informed students fall easy prey to eugenic manipulation, intolerance, and gangs because they do not understand real evolution. As can easily be seen in our prisons, it is the most ignorant of our population who are the most susceptible to a twisted understanding of evolution and racism. In more affluent areas, evolution ignorance is commonly twisted into lame justification for oppression.
God forbid that we should teach knowledge over “beliefs.” No wonder our politicians keep repeating the mantra “I believe …this and I believe …that” The “belief” word demands free reign to twist reality without being questioned. It is a true tragedy when believing trumps thinking, especially in our schools.

Nancy Hentschel
Sugar Land
And the punch line is supplied by the first comment to that op-ed:
ken hargesheimer - Jan 10, 03:43 PM

It takes “faith” to beleive in evolution. There is no absolute proof of it being true.
I'm happy to say that he was rebutted rather well in subsequent comments.


* BTW, check out the immediate reaction by the bloviating heads, as they struggle to place a clear example of Huckabee's true nuttiness into their pre-existent narrative frames about religion and his "charm:"
When Willie Geist reported Huckabee's opinion on MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host Mika Brzezinski was almost speechless, and even Joe Scarborough couldn't immediately find much to say beyond calling it 'interesting,'

Scarborough finally suggested that while he believes 'evangelicals should be able to talk politics ... some might find that statement very troubling, that we're going to change the Constitution to be in line with the Bible. And that's all I'm going to say.'

Geist further noted of Huckabee that if 'someone without his charm,' said that, 'he'd be dismissed as a crackpot, but he's Mike Huckabee and he's bascially the front-runner.'
[UPDATE: Digby also weighed in on Huckabee's comments.]