It’s great to see mainstream publishers starting to attack some of the ridiculous ideas that are so common in the United States. In Greetings from Idiot America (single page) Charles P. Pierce writes about the how creationism, intelligent design, and other crack-pot ideas have become mainstream in the United States. Rather than ridiculing this stupidity, people are building exhibits of dinosaurs wearing saddles in the Creation Museum. People claim that dinosaurs fit on Noah’s Ark since they were young and small (why didn’t I think of that?). These people believe in the literal truth of the Bible, regardless of how indefensible are their beliefs. An excerpt:
The Congress of the United States intervenes to extend into a televised spectacle the prolonged death of a woman in Florida. The majority leader of the Senate, a physician, pronounces a diagnosis based on heavily edited videotape. The majority leader of the House of Representatives argues against cutting-edge research into the use of human stem cells by saying that “an embryo is a person…. We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth.” Nobody laughs at him or points out that the same could be said of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, or whoever invented the baby-back rib.
The following describes the overall ideas of Idiot America:
After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it’s a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.
The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2) Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.
Basically, it’s a rejection of science and intellectual thought in exchange for religion, superstition, and greed. I’ve heard religious experts ask that, if evolution is true, why we don’t all just give birth to monkeys? Where do they get these ideas? And how do they get news coverage? You’d be hard-pressed to fabricate this level of stupidity. I would love to just laugh this off as dumb people doing dumb things. But these people tend to be powerful political figures. They run the country, it’s laws, and its rapidly-deteriorating public education system. This stuff actually matters (to me, probably not to them).
OK, one last quote (I promise):
It is a long way from that to the moment on February 18, 2004, when sixty-two scientists, including a clutch of Nobel laureates, released a report accusing the incumbent administration of manipulating science for political ends. It is a long way from Jefferson’s observatory and Franklin’s kite to George W. Bush, in an interview in 2005, suggesting that intelligent design be taught alongside the theory of evolution in the nation’s science classes. “Both sides ought to be properly taught,” said the president, “so people can understand what the debate is about.”
The “debate,” of course, is nothing of the sort, because two sides are required for a debate. Nevertheless, the very notion of it is a measure of how scientific discourse, and the way the country educates itself, has slipped through lassitude and inattention across the border into Idiot America — where fact is merely that which enough people believe, and truth is measured only by how fervently they believe it.
Perhaps its time for the Mind to take control over the Gut. People should start respecting intelligence rather than rewarding idiocy. Otherwise, we might need to rename this nation based on the title of a Green Day album.