Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Leaders


A friend sent a link to an article that mentioned something I'd missed: Todd "No-One-Gets-Pregnant-From-Legitimate-Rape" Aikin Akin is on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee! Science. Technology. Nor is he the only teabagging crackpot sitting thereupon. If you have the fortitude, drill down through this article, and be petrified. I won't spoil the fun by posting its rundown of each of the members, but it's all there. As is this thought:

So what gives? Why are there so many congressmen so blind to science, as it were? These Congressmen aren’t necessarily dumb people—in fact, most of them aren’t. But they, like everyone, are prone to confirmation bias, wherein our pre-existing ideologies (something this Congress has no shortage of) trumps our ability to gather information in an objective manner. We’ll discard good info if it doesn’t support our more deeply felt beliefs. It doesn’t help that those deeply held beliefs are massaged by moneyed interests in Congress—family values groups reward pols for anti-abortion stances, the massive fossil fuel industry gives them a pretty good reason to vocalize anti-climate change views, and so on.

In fact, a number of recent studies have shown, for instance, that better-educated conservatives are even less likely to believe in climate change, and that obtaining more data does little to sway their views. In other words, it’s not an inability to read complicated science journals that lands these folks at a point where they disregard science. It’s because the science in question doesn’t seem to make room for their beliefs: in lower taxes, in eliminating pollution regulations on business, being opposed to abortion, and pro-Intelligent Design ed, etc.


How far beyond appalling is it that people like these sit on such an important committee? Not to mention that they've all been voted into office, by voters, fellow citizens, the very people whose future is so jeopardized by such ignorance. People by definition already victimized by anti-intellectualism, and proud as hell of it. In what scenario will they ever change their minds?

I don't see it getting better, which is why I've begun to think the election will be lost. Of late, having been born of Reaganism, Americans seem especially prone to recoiling from the hard stuff, to resorting to magical thinking when the going gets tough. And to selfishness, when pitching in is what's most needed. Even if these tendencies are mostly seen among those of teabagging proclivities, their numbers are enough to bring it all down. What would it take for those who elected such blockheads ever to un-elect them, to abandon the force-fed ignorance they so desperately need to maintain equilibrium? Ain't happening: as we've seen with blinding clarity, you don't need to control all branches of government to bring it all crashing down. Enabling ignorance works.

In a democracy like ours (meaning one that's no longer based on a thoughtful electorate and cooperation among legislators, but on the power of moneyed interests and their ability to deceive the willingly deceived and buy off the rest) this sort of ignorance is self-perpetuating. Because, in a continuous feedback loop, it leads to the degradation of education, to unwillingness to invest in those things that might improve it and give kids a chance to learn. The more people like this roam the halls of Congress, the more certain it is that Americans will lose the ability or desire to recognize the danger. While America willingly cedes the future to more enlightened countries, ones willing to invest in its kids, our citizens elect more and more Aikins Akins, sealing their fate.

So maybe I should put it this way: We're approaching critical mass (if we haven't already passed it): the upcoming election is the last chance to reverse the deadly feedback loop. If the Rs win, the slim chance of mitigating the trend will be lost forever. Because when, in the formerly great (or, at least, non-awful) Republican party, there's no more countervalance to guys like Aikins Akin, support for education will be lost, disinformation the goal. It'll be meltdown: China syndrome. In more ways than one.


3 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

Ummm Sid,
It's "Akin".
"Aiken" is a charming small town in South Carolina, with more peoples of color on it's City Council than your state has Governor/Lt Governor/US Congressmen/Senators/State Representives/Senators/Surpreme Court Judges...
And Aiken, Dammit, now you've got me doin it,
"AKIN" isn't a Teabagger, he's your age, you fuddy-duddys only know the Missionary...
Seriously, have you had your Cognition checked lately? One day your misspelling "Akin" next one your walkin in to Starbucks with no pants...

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

By golly, you're right, Frank. My bad. For anyone reading this, I went back and corrected the spelling.

Pieter B said...

Drek-man correcting your spelling? It is to laugh.

Carol Tavris/Eliott Aronson's Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) explains the cognitive dissonance that educated GOoPers are displaying very well. A good read.