Political Animal


February 16, 2014 6:03 PM Today in Stupid

By Martin Longman

If you are a scientist, what are you supposed to make of the fact that one of the two major political parties in the United States has grown stone-cold stupid?

Example one:

Education in science will be opt-out in Missouri, if a bill requiring schools to notify parents if “the theory of evolution by natural selection” is being taught at their child’s school passes.
The bill proposed by Republican State Rep. Rick Brattin had its first public hearing Thursday. Brattin has described teaching only evolution in school as “indoctrination” to local TV.
The language of the bill makes little provision separating discussion of the specifics of evolutionary biology from any other element of biology upon which evolutionary theory rests, like anthropology, examination of dinosaur fossils, genetic sciences, disease or modern medicine.

Example two:

Fox News contributor George Will on Sunday argued that climate change was a hoax because the world had also gotten warmer during the Middle Ages…
“I’m one of those who are called deniers,” Will admitted. “Of course the climate is changing, it’s always changing. That’s what gave us the medieval warm period. That’s what gave us — subsequent to that for centuries — the Little Ice Age. Of course it’s changing.”
Will said that the only question was “how much wealth are we going to forego creating” by trying to stop the climate from changing?
Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers asserted that climate change had become an “article of faith” for liberals, making the president’s effort an “overtly political move.”

Example three:

Alan Keyes claims that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s plan to sue President Obama doesn’t go far enough and may actually aid Obama’s “dictatorship.”
Instead, he wants the Tea Party darling — who last year accused Obama of “committing impeachable offenses” — to join his Jesus Christ-endorsed campaign to get congressional candidates to pledge to support the impeachment and removal of the president.

Example four:

Americans are enthusiastic about the promise of science but lack basic knowledge of it, with one in four unaware that the Earth revolves around the Sun, said a poll out Friday.
The survey included more than 2,200 people in the United States and was conducted by the National Science Foundation. Nine questions about physical and biological science were on the quiz, and the average score — 6.5 correct — was barely a passing grade.
Just 74 percent of respondents knew that the Earth revolved around the Sun, according to the results released at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

I included Alan Keyes in my examples because the 26% of Americans who don’t know that the Earth orbits the Sun is suspiciously similar to the estimation that Kung Fu Monkey made on October 7, 2005 that the Crazification Factor is pegged at twenty-seven percent.

John: Hey, Bush is now at 37% approval. I feel much less like Kevin McCarthy screaming in traffic. But I wonder what his base is —
Tyrone: 27%.
John: … you said that immmediately, and with some authority.
Tyrone: Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.
John: Objectively crazy or crazy vis-a-vis my own inertial reference frame for rational behaviour? I mean, are you creating the Theory of Special Crazification or General Crazification?
Tyrone: Hadn’t thought about it. Let’s split the difference. Half just have worldviews which lead them to disagree with what you consider rationality even though they arrive at their positions through rational means, and the other half are the core of the Crazification — either genuinely crazy; or so woefully misinformed about how the world works, the bases for their decision making is so flawed they may as well be crazy.
John: You realize this leads to there being over 30 million crazy people in the US?
Tyrone: Does that seem wrong?
John: … a bit low, actually.

As it turned out, Bush actually plummeted to 25% in three separate Gallup polls, but I attribute that to a combination of the margin of error and Gallup’s inability to poll at an acceptable level. I am confident that Alan Keyes’ campaign against Barack Obama proved that 27% is the correct number.

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune. A former political consultant for Democracy for America, he is a frequent guest blogger at Political Animal.


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