I'm not going to go through the arguments about climate change. The overwhelming evidence is that it's human-caused, and it's starting to look like our recent extreme weather is part of it.
What I'd like to focus on is why a political party, whose objective is governing a democratic republic, wants its supporters to be dumb. Or ignorant, perhaps, is a better word, although the support for Glenn Beck's antics leans toward dumb. Ignorant people lack facts. Dumb people have problems with reasoning.
It seems to be very simple: dumb or ignorant people are much more easily led. And, as I write this, it becomes obvious that "dumb" is the operative word, because the Republican followers are unwilling to question their leaders or find sources of information outside the very narrow "acceptable" range.
The media bear some responsibility. In a forum at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the following exchange took place.
Near the forum’s conclusion, Massachusetts Institute of Technology climate scientist Kerry Emanuel asked a panel of journalists why the media continues to cover anthropogenic climate change as a controversy or debate, when in fact it is a consensus among such organizations as the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Physics, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Association and the National Research Council, along with the national academies of more than two dozen countries.It can be argued that it's not the place of journalists to persuade. And scientists can be clunky or counterproductive in their communications with the public. But when journalists shuck off responsibility for their "on the one hand, on the other" presentations, even when one hand is inaccurate, wrong, or dishonest, they are persuading the public that all views are equally acceptable.
"You haven't persuaded the public," replied Elizabeth Shogren of National Public Radio. Emanuel immediately countered, smiling and pointing at Shogren, "No, you haven't." Scattered applause followed in the audience of mostly scientists, with one heckler saying, "That's right. Kerry said it."
Judith Warner points out that if America is going to win the future with technology, our citizens need to have an accurate picture of what science and technology are. So we're back to my question of the responsibility of a political party that chooses to fog up that picture. Her reference to postmodern fact-denial having spread from the left to the Republican Party is something I've said and chuckled over more than once. The dreaded relativism that is to be condemned in college professors is just fine in climate denial. And it's what those even-handed journalists are indulging in, too.
And one more manifestation: the attack on Michele Obama for her campaign against obesity and for healthier foods. If your base doesn't know how to do calorie counts or much about vitamins and minerals, it makes this sort of thing easier.