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It is not that I think his Saturday New York Times columumn, Dinosaurs and Denial is not well written or lacks substantial good information.  It shines on both and I strongly recommend it.  He begins by taking Marco Rubio to task, not so much for his original mess of a response on the age of the earth but for his flawed attempt to walk it back by acknowledging that the science is clear - the earth is at least 4.5 billions years old,

But then he hedged: “I just think in America we should have the freedom to teach our children whatever it is we believe. And that means teaching them science. They have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile those two things.”
Blow acknowledges the problem that Rubio and other Republicans face in their base, citing data that shows "believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years."   (you can go to the article for the links for the studies - the link I have provided is not behind a firewall nor does it count against your quota).  

Consider also this data:

only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative.
just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.
Please keep reading.

Blow points beyond Rubio - Bobby Jindal's attempt (declared unconstitutional) to use school vouchers in a way that allows teaching that Dinosaurs walked on earth at the same time as man and that the Loch Ness Monster is a living creature,  Kentucky using state funds to help build a Creationist Theme Park to accompany the extant Creationist Museum which shows Adam and Eve in Eden with dinosaurs. . .

There is still more:  on global warming

Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did.
I realize there are limitations to how much one can put in a column.  So I am not going to chide Blow for not pointing out how the fossil fuel industry has worked mightily to persuade people not to believe the science on climate change, and how politicians from states like Lousiana and Kentucky, as well as Virginia and West Virginia and Texas, in which coal and petroleum companies have an outsized influence, contribute to the problem.   At a time of high unemployment it is easy to scare people with tales about how "false" science will take away their jobs.

Nor will I argue that Blow should have explored the implications of Rubio's statement that while children  "have to know the science, but also parents have the right to teach them the theology and to reconcile those two things.”   This leaves open the entire issue of the teaching of hatred, of denial of the legitimacy of a Black president or that the Nazi's attempt genocide of Jews occurred.  Those are each subjects for multiple columns of their own.

Why then do I disagree with Blow?

Allow me to offer Blow's two concluding paragraphs:  

Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back.

If the Republicans don’t want to see their party go the way of the dinosaurs, they have to step out of the past.

My problem is with his last statement.   The issue is far greater than the continuation or extinction of the Republican party.  Before they would die off the damage they are doing and can continue to do could mean that humanity and civilization would go the way of the dinosaurs.

Republicans like Jindal and others who control the mechanisms of many states are hell-bent on imposing an agenda that is destroying the economic future of many Americans - the initiative on destroying labor protections in Michigan is but the latest example of that.  They are hell-bent on destroying public education through vouchers and uncontrolled expansion of corporatized charter schools.   They have a history of attempting to destroy science education -  remember the Kansas State School Board attempting to require the teaching of "Creation Science" or the Dover Independent School Board in Pennsylvania that of "Intelligent Design"  or Oklahoma young earth creationism?   How about distorting our history by including in Texas history standards the glorification of Phyllis Schlafley and New Gingrich while ignoring Thomas Jefferson, an action led by a man who was neither an educator nor an historian, but rather a dentist and a right-wing idealogue?

It is the distortion of the science that is most dangerous, because it means that we will NOT confront what is happening.

Blow rightly cites the data showing 2012 will likely go down as the warmest year in the history of our nation.  But that pales next to the notion of the disappearance of the ice cover of the Arctic, the wold-wide disappearance of glaciers, the changing of ocean currents, and the increasing frequency and strength of severe weather events like Super Storm Sandy.

I applaud Blow for what he has written.

But I find his conclusion far from forceful enough.

Republicans still control the US House of Representatives.

As of this moment they can still use the filibuster in destructive ways in the US Senate.

They control the government in far too many states.

They are not yet going the way of the dinosaurs.

They are contributing to the kinds of climate change that eliminated the dinosaurs, and that can destroy much of human civilization, cause massive starvation, and worse.

Somehow even in a column focusing on the political implications of their pandering to a base that rejects science and to moneyed interests (Koch Brothers, anyone) who have a vested interested in the rejection of what the science clearly shows, the risk to the rest of us should have been acknowledged.

Perhaps we can persuade Charles M. Blow to follow up with another column that addresses this more clearly?

I hope so.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Looking forward to your comments (27+ / 0-)

    I will as I always do read them all.

    I am multitasking this morning.

    I have a curriculum to review for a university teacher education program (paid work) that I'd like to finish by tomorrow

    I have a ton of test to read and grade from my kiddies

    I really need to address the paperwork piling up on my dining room table

    I have my Saturday morning reflection to write -  should be up before Noon, although I do not know when

    I have to replan next week's lessons based on what happened this week, and also outline the following week as well.   Fortunately both are SHORT weeks with the students, so only need 8 days of lessons.

    There are always bills to be paid.

    I must put together a holiday packet for the kids to stay connected to learning - although probably less than half of them will do it.

    We teachers only work 6.5 hours a day and get weekends, holidays, and the summer off, right?

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:45:20 AM PST

  •  I guess there's a fine balance (6+ / 0-)

    of when to be hopeful (if we do x then life can continue on) or just plain done (no matter what we do from here on out we are screwed).  I tend toward the latter.  There is no political will to turn around our addiction to fossil fuels, no leaders to push us in that direction (remember Jimmy Carter anyone?), and the very stupid idea that some geoengineering stunt will save us is laughable.  Like every species that destroys its own environment the Human Species will end up in the same dead end.  The biggest joke will be on those who think their money will buy the best gated community to withstand the onslaught.  

  •  I believe (8+ / 0-)

    that many Republicans in Congress are merely pandering to their base when they espouse anti science notions. Which in turn enabes and emboldens the crazies in the electorate and creates a never ending loop.

    Yes there are legitimate idiots like Akin but the drive for power and holding it overcomes the senses of others who know better but won't admit it.

    "We have met the enemy..."

    If you have more than you need but don't have empathy you must be a republican.

    by Cecile on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:53:08 AM PST

    •  Naw (6+ / 0-)

      They are as ignorant of reality as their base. The continual stream of offal they speak into microphones daily is clear evidence of the fundamental distortions in their cognitive processes.

      "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

      by US Blues on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:21:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think most Far Righters believe what they spout. (7+ / 0-)

        They manipulate, too, of course, as in home schooling that teaches only what the parents and teachers in that environment want to be known and thought about. Some, like Aken and Bachmann, are confabulators who can concoct wondrous stories out of many threads ("I read once ...") and assume without proof that the truth they speak will accepted ... as they know it should. Others are dedicated to carrying reason out to be so extreme as to defeat reason. (I.e. the Senate vote last week on the UN treaty on rights for disabled people ... which they didn't like as domestic policy, either, as I recall.)

        Their fending off of variant views is willful. They convert it to government policy when they can. They mean to overpower cognition with political muscle.

        As for their base, oh yeah, you bet they're pandering to it. It's that Old Time Religion. And someone in the group should stand up and proclaim loudly and often, "It Ain't Necessarily So."

        2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:49:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They believe in trickle down economics (7+ / 0-)

        They disbelieve in global warming.  They believed that SH posed a threat to the US.  They disbelieve in Obama's citizenship.

        They're willfully ignorant about plenty of things--what they believe about the planet's age is of little moment in that context.

        Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

        by RFK Lives on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:15:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think destruction is the issue. All humans (8+ / 0-)

    are going to die. Unfortunately, the fixation on this reality, which they cannot avoid, seems to distract some humans from the fact that the exploitation of themselves and our natural environment, which they can do something about, is going on apace.
    For example, in Michigan today, the issue isn't the destruction of unions; it's the legislative effort to make the exploitation of labor lawful and the free association of working people extra-legal. Working people will still be free to associate, just as individuals are free to cohabitate with other individuals, regardless of gender. But, the community as a whole, represented in the state legislature, is withdrawing or withholding community support. Why? Presumably because the members of various legislative bodies perceive that isolating people makes them easier to exploit and the exploitation of man and nature is a good.

    Indeed, that's what they read in the Bible -- that the earth was given to man to exploit and that this impulse should not be interfered with. It is the super predator's perspective, not the perspective of a communal organism. Very likely it persists in the human genome as a default mode, a reserved strategy that's available just in case most humans disappear, as seems to have happened to the Mayans, as well as the mound builders of North America. Predation is not necessarily destructive; letting it be directed at one's own kind is. I suspect it's why we allocate the use of force to specialized agents, who have to be closely supervised so they don't go overboard. Extremists have to be contained. Letting them abuse their own children is not a good idea, either.

    The freedom to abuse one's own children is what much of the Cons' agitation is about. Indeed, it was this freedom which was perceived to be threatened by the termination of slavery as a legally protected status. That the ownership of children conflicts with respect for human rights is not to be admitted. It is as if there is a willingness to sacrifice human properties on the altar of ownership, of ceding human rights in exchange for owning other humans. It is as if Abraham's descendants still haven't learned the lesson of the ram in the thicket -- that God does not want His children to sacrifice their sons.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 04:56:46 AM PST

    •  Recced this, though (4+ / 0-)

      destruction is the issue, the destruction of that very thin envelope that surrounds this earth.  It's not as if we can just jump on any old spaceship to despoil another planet, it's the only one we've got.  Surely we all die, but the way too many will die in the coming decades will defy any understanding.  

      •  The conservation of matter pretty much rules out (5+ / 0-)

        destruction. However, the planet can be made uninhabitable by humans and other organic existence, as it once was. We are capable of ruining the environment for ourselves and our progeny. What I suspect is that some humans are unaware and insensitive to their environment. Perhaps their sense of touch is defective and that accounts for them being "out of touch." Some people do not accurately perceive hot and cold. So, if they don't sense it, we should not expect them to understand it, much less worry about it. Trying to make them understand it strikes me as a lot of wasted effort. Better to just go ahead and stop pumping the earth's crust into the atmosphere. That volcanoes do it from time to time is not an excuse for humans to do it on a daily basis. Just as the fact that there are uranium particles in seawater and some mountain streams does not excuse humans concentrating uranium into pellets whose radiating energy will distort DNA for close to ever.
        Similarly, IMHO, it's not the destruction of Iraq we should be looking at now that the invasion is over, but the on-going deterioration of the people's environment and their genetic inheritance. That mutations naturally occur is not an excuse for countenancing their unnatural increase in the Iraqi population.

        We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

        by hannah on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:32:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't think anyone claims (12+ / 0-)

    the right to tell parents what they can teach their children.  But their unsupported myths about the age of the earth, human origins, and science in general do not belong in public schools.  Nor do fantasies about history, religion or other subjects, as you point out.

    Denial of reality extends well beyond the scientific arena.  Even Romney and his campaign apparently weren't fact based in their assessment of its probable outcome.

    The Republican "analysis" of the budget is likewise fantasy.  Laffer's theories have been thoroughly discredited for some time now, but they are still being trotted out as credible.  Some of the support for supply side is purely political, but it appears some of these people really believe it.

    Moving on to human reproduction.  How could any reasonably educated person believe in the "shut down" nonsense?  Only complete and willful ignorance of science makes that possible--for the candidate and those who continued to support him.

    Willful ignorance is very dangerous for society, especially when combined with emotional religious zealotry.

  •  The basic difference between is that science (6+ / 0-)

    challenges it's skeptics to prove them wrong and then when they do so correctly it modifies it's theories while theology either  tells it's skeptics to go away and find their own answers or theologians modify them then say that they were right before and after the  change. Maybe I'm only thinking of Christian theologians but it seems like a way of thinkling that applies to most theology.

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 05:38:56 AM PST

  •  Perhaps... (0+ / 0-)

    Mr. Blow could drop some expanded columns here and reference them in his NYT writings space being such a premium...

  •  Sources (0+ / 0-)

    I always find your work on kos enlightening and entertaining and I thank you... Will you provide a link concerning the data you used concerning party affiliation...  It would be greatly appreciated... Thanks again for everything you do for the progressive cause...

  •  Anti-science crowd forfeits right to critique (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, FloraLine, caul, lostinamerica

    science. It doesn't matter if it's evolution, climate change, abortion, they have zero credibility.

  •  Don't be so easy on Blow, Teach. (4+ / 0-)

    The onliest reasons I can see for not being more harsh than Blow's wishing Republicans into dinosaurs who believe in evolution, deny science and embrace cockamamie conspiracy theories ... is that it would take too long and we believe in free speech. Especially free speech that seems wrong. We believe in expansive parental rights, too.

    T-Ken points out that Republicans have control in about half the states (think boards of education and women's bodies, and they can - and are - proudly practicing gridlock in Congress. In many cases - but not all - these are Far Right Republicans fostered by self-pleader interests who hide from view. They are not practicing any kind of tolerance for other views. (Unless they have lost, as in teaching evolution, so they compromise as Rubio did, on teaching creationism too.) They are imposing by legislation their views of what the world is and should-be-more-of with the zealousness, in many cases, of missionaries bringing The Good News to savages.

    As Blow writes, " ... there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back."

    Wilful ignorance imposed as policy and manipulation of public opinion require more affirmative responses - such as straightforward confrontation in public discourse, education, transparency, vigorous political advocacy - than simply wishing the devotees would self-correct or become fossils faster.

    Only in the minds of conservatives does truth have a liberal bias.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 06:34:17 AM PST

  •  You could also argue that that's only the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    percentage that's dumb enough to admit it and ruin their tenure chances

    Just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly.

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:31:05 AM PST

  •  I read the article and agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, TheDuckManCometh

    that it is pretty lukewarm in its criticism of a party that seems to embrace as a core principle the idea that "the people" are better off if their "pursuit of happiness" entails a right not just to remain ignorant but to be perpetually in emotional turmoil in a world in which societies advance due to their scientific and technological progress (and in developing a body politic that is educated in-kind). I believe the "separation of church and state" as envisioned by the republic's founders was meant to be absolute, which would negate the existence of any ties between the state and "faith-based" initiatives. But that's a whole other discussion. What I was thinking was: Didn't this debate already take place in 19th century England between Huxley and Wilberforce? Or in the Scopes trial in the early 20th century? Perpetual ignorance and emotional turmoil and a political party that stakes its legitimacy and legacy on maintaining this state of affairs. And if the party leadership is cynical (or diabolical) enough to understand that part of the game, as Rubio's disingenuous response seems to suggest, they really should be called out constantly and venomously at every opportunity.

    “I discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake.” ― Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

    by dannyboy1 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:40:56 AM PST

  •  It's not just science (4+ / 0-)

    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

    by winsock on Sat Dec 08, 2012 at 07:58:54 AM PST

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