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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-04-01 10:03
Subject: The road to a banana republic theocracy
Security: Public
Tags:politics, religion
From goulo, per Newsweek, 48 percent of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution; while 34 percent of college graduates say they accept the Biblical account of creation as fact.

And some of my readers wonder why I'm so disgusted with the Republican party? Since the fall of Nixon, the GOP has pandered to the Evangelical base, legitimizing these ridiculous viewpoints and granting them increasing political power. This is how the American Century truly ends, not in terrorist attack or trade wars, but sheer electoral opportunism crossed over with cynical anti-science perspectives. Couple that with the overwhelming hypocrisy of the continual claim to the sole mantle of good and ethical government, and it's a wonder I can see straight.

It must be so much easier than thinking. I'd pity those among my fellow Americans who believe this arrant nonsense if they weren't busily destroying my country.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2007-04-01 17:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One book for you (if you've not read it already).

Kevin Phillips. "The Emerging Republican Majority." Written in--lessee, I think it was 1977 or so. That's the blueprint for the modern Republican party, and I've had the singular misfortune to be a voting adult and part-time political activist during the time that Phillips's plan unfolded.

What is also extremely telling is that Phillips--who was one of Nixon's advisors--has now turned on the Republicans in general and the Bush family in particular, and is grinding out attacks on the Bushes and the current religious Republican fascism.

Phillips also wrote an excellent book comparing the decline of the American empire to that of the British and Dutch empires, published in the 90s. The title escapes me now, but he's well worth looking up.

Unfortunately, the Democratic party also pandered to the Religious Right with the choice of Jimmy Carter in 1976. I knew too many evangelicals who told me "I don't remember his name, but I'm voting for the Christian" in the Democratic party--and in the general election, for that matter.

Voting for Gerry Ford was my personal objection to the Religious Right in that era. It's the only time I've voted Republican, and it was in direct protest of what I saw as a scary trend developing (and I was attending a Protestant undergrad seminary prep program at that time, so I was in the belly of the beast at that moment). I could not, would not, vote for Carter for that reason in 1976. I voted for him in 1980, then cursed him fluently when he conceded at 5 pm PDT, thus screwing over the local political campaigns I was working on.

We're still dealing with the curse of the Carter bureaucracy in the Democratic Party. It hasn't been until now that I've seen any positive signs of it getting shaken out.
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Twilight: Goodnight
User: twilight2000
Date: 2007-04-01 17:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Goodnight
It's crap like this that makes me wonder what the hell we did wrong? This sort of thing can be laid at the feet of a relatively few men and women who's intent it was to subvert American Politics -- but that's taking the easy way out and it's not completely accurate. That the rest of us sat on our laurals and LET it happen, not believing that it could possibly *be* happening is also true and something to be profoundly ashamed of.

Whether died-in-the-wool Democrat or simply offended beyond belief by the current interpretation of reality by the what passes for the Republican party, all those thing we didn't do over the last 20 years certainly contrubuted to us being in the place we are now.

It's time to fix it -- so our daughters and sons don't grow up in a place that would scare the hell out of our grandmothers.
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Elf M. Sternberg
User: elfs
Date: 2007-04-01 17:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In other news, imagine if an A-list blogger wrote on his side,
Spoke to both Edwards and Clinton today and asked whether they intended to shut down conservative Christian churches. Edwards said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind, and Clinton said that she would only want to use this authority infrequently.
Now, that sounds outrageous, but Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani said more or less the same thing last week. Ed Crane, the President of the Cato group, said he
...asked Romney and Giuliani if the president should have the authority to arrest U.S. citizens with no review. Romney said he would want to hear the pros and cons from smart lawyers before he made up his mind. Giuliani said that he would want to use this authority infrequently.
There is no priority of one amendment over another; their order of appearance in the Bill of Rights is an accident of history and a matter of emphasis, but the right of habeas corpus is as significant as the right to freedom of worship.

As Hilzoy points out in the link I provided, a country where the president can make people disappear without review is called a dictatorship.

What's really sad about this? Nobody was surprised. There has been no outrage. This is the position presidential candidates on the right are expected to take to avoid having political disagreements with their constituents.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-01 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"48 percent of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution"
to which, you said:
"It must be so much easier than thinking. I'd pity those among my fellow Americans who believe this arrant nonsense if they weren't busily destroying my country."

I can tell you woke up grumpy, but seriously man--you seriously won't pity those 100 million Americans (48% of the adult pop/not counting those under 15) because those 100 million people are destroying *your* country?

Personally, I do not reject the scientific theory of evolution, but to see you so snobbily dismiss the 48% of our country's population as ridiculous and nonsensical honestly hurt my eyes, and my heart.

sorry you feel that way,
sed
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-01 18:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The thing is, this isn't a matter of opinion. To hold faith, or be an atheist, or some other choice, is precisely that -- a matter of choice. I have a profound respect for faith and people of faith. But twist that faith into something directly counterfactual and destructive is a perversion of whatever it is life means to us.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-01 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I agree. I was reacting to your dismissal of one hundred million people, most of whom are not twisting their faith into something destructive. Acting superior (re: implying they do not think, but that they believe in errant nonsense) usually just makes other people grumpy, and part of my reaction was based on the fact that you usually do show respect. I also have anger for the tiny proportion of believers who are "twisting that faith", but it was your lumping the entire demographic together that I was reacting to. That's all.


sed
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-01 18:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The thing is it's not "a tiny proportion of believers." It's 48% of the American public. Though I have no evidence to hand, I am strongly confident that the correlation between rejection of evolution and self-identification as a person of faith (and certain specific faiths, more to the point) is extremely high.

It causes me to despair, frankly, that half our population can choose such ignorance. That is a deliberate act of non-thinking. Even Turkey, which is trending strongly towards Islamic fundamentalism, polls a wider acception of evolution than the United States. The industrialized world puts us to shame.

I repeat, evolution is not a matter of opinion, any more than gravity is.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-02 06:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ok, evolution might not be a matter of opinion, but neither are the health risks of smoking. Yet, in Turkey, 60% of men, 20% of women, and 11.7% of schoolchildren smoke.

To me (a former smoker for fifteen years) that is a startling act of deliberate non-thinking . . . but wait a second, no it's not. When *I* smoked, I readily participated in deliberate non-thinking, because, I knew better than to poison myself. But for the Turks it is, rather, a startling truth about people and what they are taught to care about. A disturbingly large percentage of Europeans *do not believe* that smoking is bad for you. The facts are there, but they do not believe, in spite of overwhelming evidence. In the E.U. the average smoking rate is 30% for adults. In our ignorant, evolution-bashing U.S. only 19% smoke. While you despair over people's private ideas, which I repeat--most of whom are not being destructive--I despair that, for whatever reason, the rest of the world is not taking smoking and its ill-effects seriously.

Look at it this way Jay, it took me fifteen years to quit smoking, when I knew better. Perhaps we can get the evolution-ignorers to quit in fifteen years, because deep down, ya gotta believe alot of them know better-just hard to give up the drug, you know.

Earlier you said, "But twist that faith into something directly counterfactual and destructive is a perversion of whatever it is life means to us."

The idea of coating your lungs with smoke is definitely counterfactual and destructive,

It takes time, so don't despair,

sed
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-02 13:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think we're still talking past each other. The smoking example is a red herring, and here's why:

The refusal to accept evolution has significant consequences for public policy. First of all, it validates choices-of-faith over choices-of-fact, which opens the door for wilful ignorance on other science-driven topics ranging from effectiveness of condoms in fighting STDs to global warming. (Admittedly the causality may be slight reversed here, but the logic remains the same even if denial of sexual research somehow precedes evolution denial.)

Once those kinds of choices come to seem right, with all the attendant warm feeling of righteousness that accompanies a sense of doing God's work (yes, I was raised for a time in a church and I'm familiar with this -- that's not snark), they become entrenched in our nation's electoral politics.

Once they become entrenched in our nation's electoral politics, we have problems ranging from local school boards adopting ID to an entire national energy policy which actively denies the presence, effects or risks of global warming.

We are deliberately electing a generation of leaders and educating a generation of children whose decision making faculties have been consciously crippled by the blinders of faith. That didn't matter much in the Middle Ages, when the effects of human agency on the world were largely limited to local pollution and long-term deforestation, but it matters immensely in a world of industrial emissions and nuclear policy.
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User: scott_e_d
Date: 2007-04-02 17:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hey, it's sed. I'm new to LJ, couldn't remember my password when I started yesterday.

We are talking past each other, cause I honestly wasn't trying to change the argument. In fact, I didn't mean to be arguing with you at all. In the beginning, all I was challenging was your lack of pity. Then, I was merely trying to use a more concrete example of something counterfactual and destructive, on a personal level, and how it's hard to change people. You are talking about very large, long term problems. I brought up smoking as a smaller, more precise example of how people can engage in behavior/thought that is destructive, when they should have every reason to know better. I just meant to say we humans can generally be a self-delusional bunch. The fact that people do not take heart disease seriously, and continue to smoke, overeat, and not exercise, despite the facts, is the kind of thing that despairs me. It takes years of education to get people to stop killing themselves. It takes more than overwhelming evidence. If only it were so easy as presenting the facts.

Obviously, if religion can be defined as a drug, then we should expect it to be hard for these people to learn otherwise. There will be resistance followed by withdrawal. That is why I believe the majority of these people deserve our sympathy. I'm not talking about the policy makers, of course.

If people can so easily be counterfactual and destructive to their own bodies, when the consequence is death, of course they can be so with ideas, which to many people are just thoughts in their head without further ramifications. Humans are quite messy that way. I don't understand why people kill themselves with drugs, or poor eating habits. I don't understand why anyone would not believe in evolution (I said in my first post I do not reject evolution). Both of these things make me shake my head and sigh.

I'm not arguing against your ideas as to the consequences of so many people not believing in evolution. I agree that it is scary. I just believe that sympathy towards people who are deluded is more effective than indignation, which invariably causes people to circle their wagons around their core delusion.
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-01 19:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Maybe a less confrontational way of saying this is "you get to choose your faith, but you don't get to choose your facts."
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-01 19:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Cry to me about this when that same 48% aren't the ones with high divorce rates, sexually transmitted diseases, children born out of wedlock, high wife-beating convictions... and insist we restrict the rights of women, homosexuals. When those same people claim that Atheists don't share their view of American life, etc.

Atheists don't share their view of life. They are better people than that.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-01 22:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Thank you for your added 'dismissal of one hundred million people' and 'lumping the entire demographic together'. Just like I react when fundamentalists claim they are 'better people than that,' I react the same to your declaration. It sure feels the same, coming from the same-minded kind of person.

scott
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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-02 01:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
http://www.humaniststudies.org/enews/index.html?id=219&article=7

Drawing on a wide range of studies to cross-match faith – measured by belief in God and acceptance of evolution – with homicide and sexual behavior, Paul found that secular societies have lower rates of violence and teenage pregnancy than societies where many people profess belief in God.

See, when I say 'those 100 million people are disproportionately destroying this fine nation,' evidence supports my claim.
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User: scott_e_d
Date: 2007-04-02 02:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Aw come on now. You quote one disputed claim made by a freelance palentologist as EVIDENCE? That's pretty poor science. Check out the wipipedia article on Gregory S. Paul. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_S._Paul.
If you want info on theropods, he's your man. But as far as religion and society?

from Wikipedia:
"This paper has been criticized on several statistical grounds, such as its seemingly arbitrary sampling of 18 countries out of over 193 for examination, its indirect measure of "religiosity" (the author's term) and its "chi-by-eye" interpretation of scatterplots rather than quantified measures."

Or try http://magicstatistics.com/2005/12/30/dogma-bites-man/ in which it is explained how Geroge H. Gallup and his associate D. Michael Lindsay of Princeton University dispute Gregory Paul's paper.

The problem is- I believe in evolution - but when someone does what you do, that is, shout evidence! on such shaky ground, it does the rest of us NO favors. That's what I meant about lumping an entire demographic together. Shaky, shabby stuff. Honestly, throwing that 'evidence' word around so loosely hurts your cause more than your bellicosity.

scott
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-02 02:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It is sufficient as a refutation of the counter-claim: that an atheist country is much less moral than a Good Christian Nation like the United States.

(Unless you know about 100,000s of murders in France, England, and Japan that the rest of the world doesn't...)
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User: scott_e_d
Date: 2007-04-02 05:44 (UTC)
Subject: eh?
Sufficient? Is loose, agenda-driven opinion splattered with cherry-picked data sufficient for refutation? I hope not, because once we believe it is, we're no better than the religious types who hand-pick their own data to support their own claims.

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User: dirkcjelli
Date: 2007-04-02 13:26 (UTC)
Subject: Re: eh?
Regardless of real or perceived bias, it is a fact that France, Japan, et al. are both less religious and have lower rates of STDs, violent crime than the United States. Within the United States, the same trend tracks.

This refutes the assertion that societies which adopt the Christian religion are 'better off' in the implied temporal sense.

This is livejournal, not Journal of XYZ. One may google it him/herself if one wants more citations for the above point. I grabbed the first link from my bookmarks with the right heading-- it is not the only study to that effect.

Sorry for the above anonymous comment, I thought I was logged in but I apparently wasn't.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-04-01 18:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
P.S.
My wife just reminded me what I said about "the French" last night. "But, that's just 60 million people," I said, "Jay's lumping together 100 million!"

So, I'll be taking the plank out of my own eye now.

peace,
sed
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-04-01 18:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's all good. I love my friends, even the ones I don't agree with. Especially them, sometimes.
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