Why DO conservatives hate science so much?

This post by Walt Dismay originally appeared at Addicting Info.

Once upon a time, America was THE smartest nation on the planet. We were the most advanced. We invented almost EVERYTHING and the stuff we didn’t invent ourselves, we improved on. We were at the cutting edge of science. Or, as Michael “I look like a Muppet” Steele might say, beyond cutting-edge! We invented the internet (and if you still think Al Gore claimed he did, you’re a chump and I have a bridge to sell you). We put a man on the moon to play freaking golf. GOLF! How awesome were we?!

Now? We’re that cranky old man down the street who can never remember your name even though you’ve mowed his lawn for five years. We still use a rotary phone and drive a Model T compared to the rest of the industrialized world.

You think we’re still the smartest people on the planet?

We don’t even have the potential to be the smartest anymore.

We have literally lobotomized ourselves.

And to what do we owe this gift of dumb? Right Wing fundamentalism, both religious and political. No one has taken this quote from Benjamin Franklin as seriously as the powers that be in the conservative movement:

“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”

They’ve taken it seriously all right; as a serious threat to their agenda. A well informed populace is hard to lie to. A well informed population is hard to manipulate with propaganda. A well informed population is hard to convince that economic suicide is a viable platform.

The Right has spent decades slowly eroding the foundations of intellectual America. Where once teachers were respected and scientists idolized, now they are pariahs. Teachers’ Unions are the cause of our failing schools! Educated people are elitists! Intellectuals are Socialists! Scientists are all lying to you about the environment! Except for this small handful of scientists and intellectuals that inexplicably agree with everything we paid them to say, you can trust them.

The first test of real science versus conservative science was cigarettes. Big Tobacco spent billions to confuse the issue and convince people that cigarettes were safe. It didn’t matter that every properly run study found exactly the same thing: cigarettes are physically addictive and cause cancer (in addition to a host of other ill side effects). Big Tobacco found a willing ally in conservative politicians (shocking, I know); Congressmen who stood in front of cameras and told the country that the damning science was “junk science” and the attacks on Big Tobacco were politically motivated. I would say they lied but I honestly believe they didn’t know the truth and, much more importantly, didn’t WANT to know. Big business had come for help fighting regulation and that’s all they needed to know. That, and how much in donations they could expect for their re-election fund.

And it worked. For decades. Even as the public’s awareness that smoking seemed to be killing their loved ones grew, Congress, carrying water for Big Tobacco, did nothing. Finally, enough incontrovertible evidence surfaced, much of it “borrowed” from Big Tobacco itself, that cigarettes were finally seen for what they really are: a product that will, in all probability, kill you. A dangerous product intentionally pushed onto an unsuspecting public by uncaring corporations. This should have forever put to rest any question as to whether Big Business (and by default their champions, professional conservatives) has the public’s welfare in mind at all. (ou :sı ɹǝʍsuɐ ǝɥʇ)

But it didn’t.

In the same vein, environmentalists have been shrieking for years that pollution is damaging the planet. They were labeled “tree hugging hippies”. There have been warnings for decades about overfishing: “Alarmists.” Disastrous climate change: “Al Gore, the serial exaggerator.” That the Ozone layer was eroding. OK, that one had real graphic pictures and was impossible to argue against without looking like an imbecile so they took unusually substantial steps. But the list goes on forever. All opposed by conservatives claiming “junk science”. And what did it get us?

Acid rain, dangerously depleted fish stock, melting ice caps and rising sea levels and a giant hole in the Ozone layer that will take centuries to reseal. “Junk science” indeed.

How does religion fit into this scam? Easily. Fundamentalism works best when no one questions the authority and authenticity of scripture. “You will obey MY interpretation of God’s word or else!” Science, by its very nature, questions and is, therefore, the enemy.

Mind you, we’re not discussing Ultimate Truth here. We’re talking about the observable workings of the universe and the history of the Earth. Fundamentalism insists that the Earth is only 6000 years old, Noah’s Flood was a historical event and evolution is a liberal lie.

When presented with the choice of believing utter nonsense and being forced to question the very underpinnings of their faith, all too many reject the real and embrace the fantasy. Fundamentalist leaders count on this. Once you can convince someone of your absolute infallibility, you can tell them to do anything, believe anything and they will because any other course would shred the very fabric of their life.

Many (most) worshippers reject this fallacy and set religion apart from science. The Fat Smug Bastard is one of them and while our conversations about whether or not God exists can be, at times, viciously energetic, we both agree that science is the final authority on pretty much all matters not having to do with the spiritual.

Even the Vatican, a long time proponent of “Shut the hell up, the Earth is the center of the universe!” looks at the United States and wonders how we became so stupid. How embarrassing is THAT?

Right Wing politics and Fundamentalist religion made a devil’s bargain a long time ago. They would both work to undermine science, thereby rendering the population ever so more open to manipulation and control. This paves the way for unregulated industry (read as: unlimited profit) and for the mixing of temporal power with spiritual (read as: theocracy). Economic conservatism and social conservatism. The two banes of modern America’s existence.

This is great news for the rest of world. As we become dumber and dumber and more technologically unsophisticated, we are unintentionally seceding the role of world leader to whoever can claim it first. Someone else will make it to Mars first. Someone else will invent the new, virus free, internet. Someone else will create the first quantum computer. Someone else will perfect nanotechnology. We’ll just be their customers. We’ll have terrible credit and won’t understand the instruction manual.

Chris Hedges: “AMERICAN FASCISTS” The Christian Right vs USA

The roots of ‘Christian America’ can be found in corporate America – Prof. Kevin M. Kruze

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42 COMMENTS

    • The very real attributes of the Bible as a mega-bucks cash-cow and powerful tool of control for its many powerful, wealthy vested interests, far outweighs the fact its based on a fictional, 6,000 year-old Earth without Neanderthals or dinosaurs. Plus, all of the main religious institutions in every religious country are firmly embedded with the ruling elites.

    • Seriously? So how would you explain all that happened before?

      It’s the electorate, stupid! Or is that the stupid electorate?

    • That's about as silly a statement as you can make. Why is the Government responsible? It is actually the reverse – reduced Federal spending on science and education coupled with reduced State spending on education under Republican leadership is the problem.

    • Incorrect. Herd mentality, a general defunding of education and free school lunches have caused this. How many here have taken social studies or home ec? The GOP since the 1970s has been working to defund that, because smart=dangerous.

    • No. Capitalism. We will always need to govern ourselves. We just need for the rich to pay their fair share. There should be no Billionaires.

  1. Scientific facts which totally contradict the Bible account of human origins are bitter enemies of its many powerful, wealthy vested interests. The very real attributes of the Bible as a mega-bucks cash-cow and powerful tool of control far outweighs the fact its based on a fictional, 6,000 year-old Earth without Neanderthals or dinosaurs. Plus, all of the main religious institutions are firmly embedded with the ruling elites in every religious country like the U.S. And even many so-called secular countries like the U.K. where they get seats in the House of Lords, religious programs on state broadcaster BBC, etc., in return for deafening silences on unjust laws which benefit the rich, and wars-for-profit, etc.

  2. The ignorance of the political right has been well funded. For more insight into how this happened, read "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right" by Jane Mayer. It's available on Amazon. Of course the people who most need to read it won't because they have closed minds.

    • The ignorance and bigotry of the religious right is only equaled by the loony left. Unable to discern the difference between true religion and the preponderance of false, they lump it all together and discard it, while Satan rejoices at their stupidity. But of course, if there’s no God, then there couldn’t be a Devil, thus leaving themselves subject to his fatal deceptions.
      The problem with religion is the rarity of examples of people who live like the humble Jesus Christ. Popes, basking in trillions of wealth, don’t. Megachurch televangelists, preaching their self-serving prosperity gospel, whizzing around in private jets, don’t either. Those who’ve made a business of the gospel are hardly proof that the good news of the gospel is fake news.
      Most tried and true Christians are found in smaller groups, individuals, quietly living out their faith in unselfish service to others, with hope, courage and compassion for their fellow man. They actually read the Bible for what it says, have tasted, tested and found it 100% true and reliable… unlike powerful, wealthy charlatans masquerading as Christians who twist and distort it.
      I was an atheist until I honestly gave God a chance and found his existence and love undeniable. I invite everyone reading this to set aside your prejudice and doubts. Sincerely ask God to forgive your many sins, and invite Him into your life. As I did beginning 45 years ago, you too may be pleasantly surprised to learn that God IS, that He is very, very good, and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

      • The loony left? You mean the liberals who promote equality, generosity, tolerance, good stewardship, caring for the poor? If that sounds loony to you reread your Bible. As for “true religion from the prepoberance of false” that true one would be yours and every other false right? So these “loonies” you speak of are only rejecting as false one more religion than you are, yours. People don’t need to be fooled into sin by Satan or threatened into being good by God the punisher. We do it all on our own.

        • Liberals who promote equality, generosity, tolerance, good stewardship, caring for the poor, are part of the “good” left. The libertarian left. Its the authoritarian left, that do not love the poor, or the disadvantaged. They use moral rhetoric and violence as a tactic to impose their will on others. There is a difference between donating time and money to helping others, vs destroying perceived enemies.

        • The left has nothing to do with equality, tolerance, or good science. They consider themselves the Eloi of the story and everyone else as tools to be shaped to serve the Eloi. America has entered a post scientific era. The skepticism of science has been replaced with consensus as research is given it assignment to prove. If a scientist dares to contradict the chosen “truth”, the scientists lose their Grant’s and professorships and someone else juggles the results until the useful answer comes up. If the grant is to prove that pollution killed millions of lake fish, a scientist has to massage away the fact that the fish killed were an invasive species from an area that never freezes and did not know how to cope with ice. Telling the truth cancels the grant. A whole in the ozone caused by an area where the earth’s magnetic field temporarily cancelled itself out is known to be caused by moving currents of iron rich magma deep in the earth. Saying it’s some man made product determines what companies make money and can reward the politicians who control the scientists.

      • You need to call in to the Atheist Experience and discuss this with Matt Dillahunty. Of course, prepare to be utterly and totally destroyed.

  3. So the cigarette lobby was a religious fundamentalist organization? I thought their main concern was selling cigarettes and not matters of faith!

  4. Promoting a society in which more women can change a flat than men? That's liberalism today. Not that I'm not guilty as I've raised 2 liberals out of three. Guess which one's the oldest? There ya go. "Show me a youth that's not liberal and I'll show you someone with no heart………" If you're reading this and cannot finish this quote you are likely young and liberal. Conservatism often comes with wisdom which also comes with age.

      • Conservatism does not come with fear, hatred, and ignorance. That is liberalism. Real unencumbered science is the enemy of liberalism. You equate fundamentalism and conservatism. They are worlds apart. Fundamentalism is a relatively new event. The world has been 6000 years old for only a rcentury, when a numberolgist played with the bible. If you want to see what catastrophies liberalism brings to the environment, visit former socialist republics in eastern Europe. It takes money, innovation, and groundbreaking science to prevent that kind of problems from happening here. If you want closer to home, consider wind turbines and the decimation of our native bird and bat populations.

        • Omfg. Are you really that ignorant?

          Do you seriously believe that wind power is going to kill all the birds? ROFLMFAO!!

          You think "Liberalism" is what happened to the Soviet Union?

          I have a motor home, blessed by Joel Osteen with the ability to drive on water (not rated for oceans). I'll sell it to you for 60K. Deal?

    • Conservatism comes with age because we don't want change. We've spent our lives being successful under one perceived set of rules and we don't want a game change. It has little to do with actual wisdom; it has more to do with being hidebound, greed, and an unwillingness to be flexible, coupled with fear of losing what we have.

  5. And the bible says “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Genesis 1:28, which these madmen take to mean we can do as we want to the environment as it is our god-given right.

    • When people quote that at me I retaliate by saying that Adam was put into the Garden of Eden "to dress it and to keep it" – ie to take good care of it. They usually go away.

    • It does indeed seem like an attack on all things conservative, but there is a reason for that. Christian fundamentalism posits the Bible as unassailable truth. Any evidence contradicting the “truth” must necessarily be wrong. One begins with the conclusion and constructs evidence around it. Conclusion first-evidence later. It is basically a-rational. The fundamentalist mindset became the de facto conservative intellectual operating system decades ago. As a result, almost any discussion based on gathering evidence to draw a conclusion will seem like an attack on conservative principles.

  6. Seriously? So how would you explain all that happened before?

    It’s the electorate, stupid! Or is that the stupid electorate?

  7. Ted Cruz – powerful debater in college, Paul Ryan – attended college on SS payments, George Bush – Yale legacy and all of the other college educated politicians did not drop out in order to be successful. Stop buying the bull !!!

  8. Conservatives are deathly afraid of change . They cling desperately to their archaic teachings rather than try to understand anything which will alter their prehistoric beliefs . It is not just religion , but all life has to remain forever the same for them . They haven't the courage needed to accept any new and improved idea .

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