As Susan Jacobs said in her book, “Age of American Unreason,” “This level of scientific illiteracy provides fertile soil for political appeals based on sheer ignorance.” The level of scientific illiteracy she’s talking about is our own; just last week, Gallup released a poll that showed four out of every 10 Americans believe in creationism, and 3 out of every 10 believe that the Bible is the literal, absolute word of God. Another study done by the National Science Foundation shows that 1 in 5 Americans believes geocentrism. Studies done online show a scary predilection towards anti-vaxx nonsense and other pseudoscience garbage.
And if there’s any party that’s done more towards capitalizing on this, it’s the GOP. And by “capitalize,” we mean “encourage.” Their base of evangelical right-wing fundamentalist Christians rejects even the most basic science for a Bronze Age book of morality tales, poetry, and ancient laws. The policies crafted by the GOP to pander to this segment of society are undermining our entire civilization, and chipping away at our collective knowledge one fact at a time. A few days ago, The Street compiled a list of the dumbest and smartest states in the Union. And of course, nine out of ten of the “Top Dumbest” are Republican strongholds. Multiple studies have linked conservatism and low IQ, so this should be no surprise.
Nowhere is this more visible than the Republican War on Education. Their support for homeschooling and charter schools, at the expense of public schools, has created systems where children are allowed to be insulated from the world and left at the tender mercies of their brainwashing, homeschooling parents, and then sent off to right-wing “universities.” The charter schools they support are notoriously corrupt. And the results speak for themselves, according to PoliticusUSA:
[box type=”shadow”] [A] University of Texas study revealed that clearly 25% of public school biology teachers believe human beings and dinosaurs coexisted in perfect harmony. It is no wonder that 72% of teabaggers distrust science and scientists, and why they join Republicans crusading to slash funding for education as well as oppose attempts to assuage the devastation of global climate change.[/box]
Even more terrifying, in the words of PoliticusUSA:
[box type=”shadow”]The ignorance epidemic in the South explains their devotion to the GOP’s policies of devaluing, and cutting funding for, public education to make room for tax cuts for the rich, as well as transferring public school funding into private religious and charter (also religious) schools. Bible inspired ignorance is why there is a rush to home school children pushed by idiot Christians such as creation scam artist Ken Ham who convinces ignorant Southern Christians to pull their children from, and oppose funding for, public schools they claim teach satanic science and not the bible. According to Max Brantely of The Arkansas Times, “the charter school movement is another big part of the problem” because they are free to use curriculum that includes teaching the bible as science and history.[/box]
It’s tempting to sit back and let this problem sort itself out, but it’s a self-perpetuating one. While the number of evangelical Christians have proven consistent in recent years, they have a disproportionate level of influence. They wield considerable power at the local level, on school boards and city councils across the nation. And of course, evangelical Christian parents have gained nearly complete control of their children’s education. As long as this is the case, they, and the policies crafted to garner their favor by their Republican puppets, will pose an ongoing threat to our country’s knowledge base and ability to innovate.