The title of this post could also just as easily be, “how to wake a dormant humanist.”
Three Republican party primary debates are in the history books. There now is a crystal clear picture of candidates who – if belief in human knowledge is a litmus test – will rely on evidence to make decisions, and those who may not.
Jon Huntsman has been unequivocal. He believes scientists. His quote from his own twitter feed, “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.” He stands in opposition to the rest of the pack…as the “crazy” one.
Mitt Romney has been less clear. He seems as though he wants to come down on the side of science, but fears alienating a base hungry for a climate conspiracy theory. His quote via Reuters, “Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is…I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”
The rest of the primary contenders have also been unequivocal – in their rejection of evidence based knowledge. Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich (although I think Newt might be playing politics on this, similar to Romney), Rick Santorum, have been clear that they do not believe the evidence and they do not trust science.
Given those latter positions, while spending time on my Facebook page during the debates, I assumed most of my friends would be as appalled as I was in the wholesale rejection of reason on display. To my surprise, a very large number were not only not appalled, but they actually were in agreement with the anti-science crowd! How? Why? Many of these people attended the same public school system I attended; some even attended the same university. So when, where, and how did the rejection of science in favor of opinion become so easy for otherwise intelligent people? What has replaced research, understanding, and deference to true expertise when faced with understanding the issues of the day? Is it an unhealthy reliance on left or right wing “news” sources? Is it the proliferation of the internet as a primary source of information – a position it has no business occupying. Is it a “dumbing down” of America as we read less and plug in to distractions more? Do we need more open, honest, non anonymous conversation with people who may not actually agree with us?
With those questions bouncing around in my brain, I feel now is as good a time as any to have an intellectual awakening; an enlightenment if you will. So thank you to the Republican hopefuls and to Facebook for giving me a context from which to begin our own, small, southern enlightenment.