Editor’s Note: In recent years, conservatism has increasingly come to include a deep skepticism regarding any advances in science made during the past few centuries, and anything that contradicts fundamentalist Christianity. This doesn’t bode well for the future of the nation.
In the best holiday movie ever made, the 1951 version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” the Spirit of Christmas Present warns Scrooge to beware the incarnations of want and ignorance, but ignorance most of all. In a country bedeviled by right-wing news channels, warped social media, Christian fundamentalism and the cult of Trump, it’s a warning that’s being comprehensively ignored.
Selfishly oblivious, the country is being pummeled simultaneously by climate change and COVID-19. Too many Americans reject the remedies to these plagues, spurning the expertise of MDs, PhDs, the UN, AMA, NIH, NASA, NOAA, DoD and CDC. Instead, they accept “science” proffered by right-wing politicians and preachers, conservative journalists, oil company executives, libertarian lawyers and conspiracy theorists.
wonder whether Republican anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers, creationists and
climate deniers think the scientific community is merely mistaken, or
believe it’s purposefully lying, in a massive subterfuge to deceive the
nation’s godly right wing. Either way, their own constant lying about
“fake news,” “election fraud” and “Chinese hoaxes” has stoked
a conspiracy theory industry on the Right, populated by deceit mongers
like Alex Jones, who’s profited from claiming liberals faked the Newtown
massacre to smear the NRA. At the same time, too many Americans on the
other side of the political spectrum still believe George W. Bush
fabricated 9/11 to justify invading Afghanistan and Iraq.
Facebook friend — let’s call him “Adolf” — believes all the same
things as Tex, but with the added bonus of being a flat-earther. He deems
nearly all science and history — from the Big Bang and heliocentrism to
the Moon landing and Mars rovers — to be plots, hoaxes or both. He calls
Einstein an “overrated sham,” and — from Galileo and Copernicus to
Newton and, of course, Darwin — he considers the history of scientific
advancement since the parting of the Red Sea to be a godless fiction.
Adolf’s idols are fringe scientists without credentials — the sort of experts who claim Bigfoot built the pyramids. At first, I thought he was just having fun with the idea of a flat Earth, but he’s actually deadly serious, and feels nothing but scorn for physicists and geologists with doctorates from places like MIT or Caltech, whom he considers conmen colluding to misinform the populace with fake data. And, sadly, he’s not alone. Many fundamentalists of his ilk disdain as anti-biblical heresy the notion of a spherical Earth.
intellectual Luddites— let’s call them “the anti-science cabal”
— comprise a key bloc that’s prolonging the pandemic by rejecting
guidance from medical experts like Dr. Fauci. Instead, they echo the
rantings of media prophets, such as Sean Hannity, and Glen Beck, whose
education totals less than one college semester between them, and who
probably couldn’t spell “epidemiologist” or “Fauci” if you
spotted them the vowels.
the West Coast suffered through heat, drought and wildfires, the East
Coast was battered by flash floods, tornadoes and tropical storms.
Nonetheless, the Right opposes any measures that might ameliorate climate
change, and their contempt for modern science may someday destroy the
economy they claim to revere so much.
hurricanes and an endless pandemic will tank a president’s job approval,
as has happened to Joe Biden, even though it’s the disloyal opposition
of the Republicans — let’s not call them “patriots”
— that has made both crises worse. At least there’s one consolation:
Despite right-wing rumors to the contrary, the Earth remains round.
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