Greetings from Idiot America

This is a great, intelligent and impassioned article all about the war between true believers and science. Even though I just discovered the article last month, “Greetings from Idiot America” was published in Esquire in 2005, focusing around the carnival atmosphere that surrounded the Dover, PA creationism trial. As author Charles P. Pierce, states:

a pastor named Ray Mummert delivers the line that both ends our tour and, in every real sense, sums it up:

“We’ve been attacked,” he says, “by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture.”

And there it is.

Idiot America is not the place where people say silly things. It’s not the place where people believe in silly things. It is not the place where people go to profit from the fact that people believe in silly things. Idiot America is not even those people who believe that Adam named the dinosaurs. Those people pay attention. They take notes. They take the time and the considerable mental effort to construct a worldview that is round and complete.

The rise of Idiot America is essentially a war on expertise. It’s not so much antimodernism or the distrust of intellectual elites that Richard Hofstadter deftly teased out of the national DNA forty years ago. Both of those things are part of it. However, the rise of Idiot America today represents — for profit mainly, but also, and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of a consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people whom we should trust the least are the people who best know what they’re talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a preacher, or a scientist, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.

Sorry — I’m sticking with the intelligent and educated. As much as I can, that is — I do live in a red state…

The war on science is still going on, over creationism, global warming, stem cell research, you name it. Even though the fundamentalists lost big time in Dover, accompanied by a scathing decision by the presiding federal judge, they’ve since changed their mode of attack, and now have a strategy that is has been signed into law in the fine and science-friendly state of Louisiana. Check this article out: “The Christian Right’s Got a New Stealth Tactic to Smuggle Creationism into Science Class”.

You can read the 2005 Esquire article here.

Whatever happened to the age of liberty and enlightenment that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison fought for? Maybe there’ll be a special on it…right after the documentary on how they’ve captured Bigfoot in the remains of Noah’s Ark…

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