Why DO conservatives hate science so much?

This post by Walt Dismay originally appeared at Addicting Info.

(Credit: Marion Rush / Dreamstime)

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.

(Credit: Robert F. W. Whitlock / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0)

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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89 COMMENTS

  1. Evolution has made us human, giving us the bodies we currently inhabit.

    We are still evolving, with future humans set to lose their smallest toes (now biologically unnecessary), and their appendix (also now biologically unnecessary). A “creator”, especially an “omnipotent creator”, would not have “invented” creatures with “unnecessary” parts.

    • An omnipotent creator would have invented creatures with parts necessary at the time and also the ability to change over time.

  2. Extremely Well SAID, Grace. You have seen through the rhetoric that this author is blinded by. There is nothing new here, just spouting off. However, the topic completely interests me and for many years, I thought I was alone in my thinking. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church and family. I was educated in a small town, consolidated school district. However, I was never taught that the Bible definitely said that the world was only 6000 years old, that dinosaurs never existed, that people of color were lesser. Nothing of the kind. As I grew older, and fabulous discoveries were being made in science, medicine, astro-physics etc., my heart, mind, belief system, intellect…shouted that all things seemed to come together as one whole. Even Evolution. It is only a HUMAN who says God couldn't have done that. OF COURSE he could have made that happen. Why not? If one is openminded enough, it is very easy to believe in a merciful, all powerful God, everything is possible with GOD. Quite frankly, I don't want to believe in a god that can't do exactly that. And the more we know, as humans, about the complexities of space, and the distances and gigantic worlds that exist beyond ours. And even the fabulous complexities of our own bodies, how babies are born and think and know so very much. That is NOT a random thing. WE are NOT here by chance. Whatever GOD is, IS. I'm not here to preach, but the awesomeness of it all, both Science and the Spiritual, they are one. And many people think like me.

    If the author, and others of their belief/education/arrogance, (perhaps?) believe that we conservatives are too brainwashed by this thing they are labeling the conservative, poisonous right, then they should prove to the right that they are as welcoming, forgiving and accepting to other ideals, openminded enough to accept others as they portray themselves as. I believe that the term LIBERAL is a misnomer. I do not find the far Left to be that whatsoever.
    Listen, many of us, on all sides, are sick and tired of the arguing. Find your peace, people. Come to a place where you can like who you are. We are all only here for a short time. Enjoy life. Quit throwing out words about "OH those horrid Fundamentalists", "Oh those liberals". Get over yourselves. If you think human beings are such an awful thing, you must despise your own existence?

    • The problem with fundamentalists is they want to control the rest of the population based on their biblical ideas. They want to ban abortion, gay marriage ect because it conflicts with their idea of Christianity. I don't have a problem with anyone's beliefs UNLESS they want to control other people. That is where I draw the line!

  3. Science says:
    Nothing + Chance = Everything
    The Bible says:
    Nothing + God = Everything

    I’ve never scientifically saw nothing produce anything. Nobody has, so I deny the religion of scientific theory and fantasy until I see their claims of where we come from, why we are here, and where we are going proven in the science lab.

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