Science

America has become everything the Founders hated. Their vision of the new nation was a meritocracy where by dint of pluck and hard work any American could get ahead. In their creation, the citizenry would escape the medieval superstitions of a state religion working in lockstep with an autocratic government. Americans themselves would decide on who would govern them.

In that America, there might be a hierarchy of wealth, but every citizen would have a shot at the brass ring. It was assuredly not a socialist paradise – but neither was it an aristocracy where an individual’s prospects in life were sealed by his status at birth.

So much for good intentions. America is now a stratified society, where a birth lottery increasingly determines your prospects. Social mobility is greater in the old world than it is in the new. And the concentration of wealth in the upper echelons echoes the economic arrangements of Louis XIV’s France.

Thomas Jefferson valued education and the media. He believed a well-taught and informed population was the best guarantee against autocracy. But today’s conservatives have done yeoman’s work in diminishing the stature of learning. It is the dictator’s playbook – denigrate any independent source of information, and let the state’s propaganda flourish. Can you name a free country where there is no free media?

Now in America knowledge is suspect. People with expertise in a subject are smeared as elitist. Science is considered a conspiracy. The ‘don’t want to know anything’ crowd hasn’t denied gravity – yet. But scientific consensuses on evolution and climate change are dismissed as a plot. For some reason, the science-deniers believe that scientists are conspiring to pervert the truth. It’s never clearly explained how these scientists will benefit from that.

The United Nations, George Soros, business-hating socialist liberals are trotted out as the evil minds behind this attempt to sap the nation’s energy. And paranoia drives fears of a New World Order lurking sub rosa in trade deals and climate pacts. There is a particular slice of Americans who are willing to believe anything, except the truth.

And encouraging this nonsense is an evangelical movement that is more a nationalist endeavor than it is a religion. Their cynicism is displayed in their blatant backing for President of a man with no redeeming moral values.

There is no doubt that the Founders intended America as a country free from religious tyranny – but where all religions were respected. Publicly the country was a secular enterprise. Privately, it adopted Jefferson’s philosophy: “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Yet religious revisionists insist that America was founded as a Judeo/Christian nation and as such that the first amendment only applies to the various Christian sects. The problem is that Christ and Christianity appear nowhere in our founding documents. And the Constitution is not a tabula rasa on which you can impress whatever your beliefs might be.

And completing the triad of tyranny are compliant congressional conservatives.

Originally Congress was not the President’s poodle, but with the rise of parties – or factions as the founders called them  – the road to political perdition was paved. George Washington devoted much of his farewell address to the evils of party politics. Here’s one snippet:

“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism.” 

So there it is. A frightful stew of ignorance, religion, paranoia, and loyalty to party over country has led America to a place far from its founding philosophy. It was a destination the Founders feared, tried to avert – and failed.

 

 

 

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Science-Denial Works on Dummies.

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“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring” ― Carl Sagan. What is the difference between science and religion? Consider this: If man’s knowledge of religion and science disappeared, man would recreate both. What form religion would take is a mystery. […]

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Argument By Anecdote. It’s Easier than the Heavy Lifting of Actually Thinking.

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