Thursday, February 04, 2010

Another sign of the coming apocalypse

Lots of people have commented on the Research 2000 poll of self-described Republicans done for DailyKos. And it's true that the results are disturbing because of the strong undercurrent of paranoia and ignorance they show in our society. That undercurrent is nothing new; it's been there since the beginning - but the present strength of it is notable.

You've seen the numbers, I'm sure, but I wanted to give a slightly different perspective on them before noting one question and its associated answers that I haven't seen addressed much.

First, the perspective. Consider what we could call the Big 5 questions: Should Obama be impeached, was he born in the US, is he a socialist, does he want the terrorists to win, and is he a racist. For what I expect are obvious reasons, I'm ignoring possible replies of the sort that some of us might give like "yes, he should be impeached for continuing the Bush legacy of crushing civil liberties and fighting illegal wars" and "yes, he wants the terrorists to win - because we're the real terrorists" and taking, as I expect those polled took, the questions in their most obvious sense.

The smallest wacko vote on a question, the 24% who answered yes to "does he want the terrorists to win," represents the largest percentage of those polled who could believe all five of those contentions.

But what's the smallest percentage? To do that, to eliminate the possibility of overlapping "no"s, we have to multiply the percentages. And the result: 0.65%. That is, according to this poll, an absolute minimum of about one out of every 150 self-described Republicans holds all five of those positions. If you include the "not sure"s, more than one in 10 self-described Republicans thinks all five of those claims either is or might be true. Doesn't matter how you feel about Obama, that sort of disconnect from basic reality is creepy.

As for that undiscussed question, which perhaps helps explain the answers to those other five, this was it:
Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?
Now, it would be entirely possible to read that question as asking if the Bible should be used to explain how the Judeo-Christian religious tradition explains the world, in the same sense as other religions have their own creation mythologies. But I'm quite sure that was not the intention and equally sure it's not how it was read. Rather, it was read as "should Genesis be the basis on which public schools teach how the world came into being?" Should, that is, the Bible be used as a science textbook.

A stunning - even to me - 77% of self-identified Republicans said yes. Neither sex nor age nor location made much of a difference. (The only exception was race: 79% of "White" said yes, while 58% of "other/refused" did so.)

It's an absolute rejection of science. In toto. It goes beyond the obvious case of evolution - and therefore of paleontology, not to mention all of modern biology - to of necessity rejecting geology as well. And beyond that, to of necessity also rejecting physics and chemistry, the tools used to verify the assertions of geology about the age of the Earth. Science is to be denied.

It is a celebration of ignorance by people who do not know, do not want to know, and do not want others to know. These are frightening people.

I mean, just how do they think their TVs work? Magic incantation?

"Come, let us gather before the magic box to behold the wisdom revealed therein by Glennus Beckus, the Bigus Dickus."

We're doomed.

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