Devolution: GOP Gets 10 Points Dumb and Dumber

December 31, 2013

I’m not sure if there is a conversion factor for IQ points vs belief in evolution, but if there is, the climate-denying Republican Party is experiencing a severe Brain drain.  We now have the report  (see below) that belief in the foundation of modern biology has dropped 10 points among Republicans recently, while the rest of the country is more or less steady.
There are several possibilities. One is that the Brain Eating Amoebas made it into the punch bowl at CPAC.  Another is that literate, thinking people are leaving the party in droves. I know they were, at least once, there because my Father was Republican County Chairman in the Eisenhower era, when “family values” meant that, well, you valued families, by supporting the things that made them strong, functional and healthy. See my interview with Chris Mooney from 2011’s AGU meeting.

The other corrosive factor is the long term program by the anti-science industry to “recapture the K through 12 education system”, by passing laws that teach “both sides” – meaning, assert that the “Christian Bible as literal truth” is some kind of valid intellectual cafeteria style optional reality, as opposed to Science. ( I’m not the only one that’s asked if we should, to be fair, teach the creation myths of all cultures..never mind). These laws, not coincidentally, usually mandate, or allow, teaching the anti-science view on climate change as well.  In the video above, ex-astronaut turned Tea Party nut-job Jack Schmitt, who should know better, advocates the “reforms” being pioneered in states like Tennessee and Louisiana. (skip to 3:00 if you’re in a rush)


Talking Points Memo:

Belief in evolution among Republicans has dropped more than 10 percentage points since 2009, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center.

Pew found that 43 percent of Republicans said they believed humans and other living beings had evolved over time, down from 54 percent in 2009. More (48 percent) said they believed all living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.


The percentages for Democrats and independents were considerably more stable: Democratic belief in evolution went from 64 percent in 2009 to 67 percent in 2013; independent belief dipped from 67 percent in 2009 to 65 percent in 2013.

Among all American adults, 60 percent said they believe in evolution, according to Pew, and 33 percent do not.

Our Founding Fathers placed great value on education as a bedrock of good governance. Climate deniers seem to favor a model more like the Terrorist Training Madrassas of the Middle East.  I think there are signs this trend is somewhat self limiting, (enlightened employers fleeing dumbed down states..), but increasingly we may be creating sub-groups within our population who literally live in an imaginary universe, and are completely unprepared to cope with the rapidly changing real one.

Happy New Year.  Lots of work to do. Thanks to all who check in and contribute here – you are the ones that make this a lively and growing forum.

Now what the heck are you doing reading this on New Year’s Eve?


20 Responses to “Devolution: GOP Gets 10 Points Dumb and Dumber”

  1. Wes Says:

    As a former Republican, I can really relate to this post. As a young man of barely legal voting age, I worked on Barry Goldwater’s campaign. (I know, I know, give me a break!) Like today’s young libertarians, I had little life experience and hadn’t thought it through. But in later years I ended up living in Arizona and watched as the GOP changed to the point of dismissing Goldwater as senile because he expressed support for gay rights and other social issues. That’s when I realized that a party with no room for empathy or compassion was not the party for me.
    Their subsequent moves into science denial, creationism, anti-abortion and completely wacko economics (cutting spending creates jobs) just solidified my decision to leave their insanity behind. Chris Mooney has a good handle on how they got there, and that it’s a dead end.
    Unless we have a crisis. Authoritarianism looks good in a crisis. That’s what we have to be careful about.

    • daryan12 Says:

      “Authoritarianism looks good in a crisis”

      This is precisely what worries me right now. We have a window of opportunity to deal with issues such as climate change using a combination of people power, market capitalism (do you PV makers are in the business because they’re all hippies?), democratic action and international co-operation.
      There might be a need to bring in some restrictions, e.g. limit engine sizes on cars (that said hybrid and VCU tech is getting to the stage where we need smaller engines to do the same job anyway), new taxes on carbon emissions (tho personally I’d argue that things like VAT or VED being reduced in equal proportion, so the tax burden remains more or less the same). But that’s it.
      However, all of these measures only work, if have time to bring in appropriate measures gradually at a rate people and companies can get used to. If we ignore climate change and wait till it becomes a global crisis, such measures just will not work as there won’t be time anymore to implement them.
      Inevitably, as Peter points out, in a crisis governments tend to shift towards authoritarianism. In which case the solution becomes a wholesale ban on certain people owning cars altogether, seizure of private property, rationing of energy/food supplies, etc.
      And rather ironically we’ll have paranoid fear of right wingers to blame for it. In short much of the right’s paranoia about AGW is possibly a self-forfilling prophecy.

  2. greenman3610 Says:

    “Authoritarianism looks good in a crisis.”
    A review of 20th century history confirms this.

  3. daveburton Says:

    “Evolution” means many things. I think what is happening is that as the term has become more and more identified with atheism and abiogenesis, more and more people of Faith are declining to identify with that term.

    BTW, it is generally accepted that you can’t contract naegleria fowleri by drinking it, so spiking the punch at CPAC won’t dissolve the brains of conservatives, unless they snort the stuff… and it’s mostly liberals, rather than conservatives, who like to snort intoxicating substances up their noses.

      • daveburton Says:

        W/r/t Bush, there’s no evidence that he used cocaine, other than anonymous allegations repeated (or perhaps fabricated) by a hostile biographer who was trying to derail his political campaign. It sure doesn’t take much in the way of evidence for liberals to be convinced of things that confirm their prejudices!

        W/r/t Radel, the “the Hip-Hop Congressman,” I don’t know much about him, but I suspect that he’s more of a Ron Paul guy than an orthodox conservative… and I did say “mostly.”

        • dumboldguy Says:

          I knew Dave would again try to defend the indefensible, as he did with the obnoxious rich fat cat attacking the public-spirited bicyclist.. He’s like Don Quixote in that regard.

          “There’s no evidence”, says Dave? How about the fact that W was the ONLY one of the 12 candidates for president that refused to answer questions about substance abuse, and instead deflected them with “What I did in my youth is irrelevant”, even though the “rumors” had him using cocaine until his mid-20’s when he was in the USAF? Do you think that his admission of having only alcohol problems was the “whole truth”?

          Yes, it sure doesn’t take much for conservatives to refuse to accept things that would make a fellow conservative look bad. And all you need to know about Radel, Dave, is that he has “R” after his name, so knock off the crap about him really not being an “orthodox conservative”. He certainly looks like an “orthodox conservative” to me. He is just another in a long line of them that have shown us how stupid and out-of-touch with reality the “O.C.’s” can be.

        • greenman3610 Says:

          sure. I believe that a wealthy, selfish, entitled, hedonistic alcoholic in the 1970s never used cocaine.
          Deniers are never in denial about just one thing.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Here we go, Daveburton fans! Dave does one of his patented but oh-so-transparent-and-clumsy dances off-topic. Instead of discussing the obvious IQ deficiencies of his fellow conservatives, Dave seizes upon the brain-eating amoeba and quickly moves on to a cheap shot with “liberals snort intoxicating substances up their noses”. Really clever attempt to distract us, Dave, but I hate to be the one to tell you that you failed again.

      We all want to respond to the post and talk about how much dumber conservatives seem to be getting. Thank you for volunteering to be our “perfectly bad example” of a dumb conservative.

      You say that “Evolution means many things”? No it doesn’t, Dave. It has only ONE meaning in the context of this piece, and your “thinking” on the topic is just more smoke blowing to try to confuse the discussion.

      Evolution is SCIENCE. Bringing up “atheism” and talking about “people of faith” is religion. It is exactly the point of this piece that “declining to identify” is on the increase, and it’s a measure of DUMB and DUMBER among conservatives. Thank you for proving that point.

    • jimmyh7 Says:

      It’s interesting to me that those who deny climate change and evolution would only resort to science for semantic purposes to refute (what is obviously) hyberbole. Dave Burton, you should refrain from defending your cause vocally, as your own ignorance serves to undermine and discredit it.

    • jimmyh7 Says:

      Ps- sorry to come so late to the party guys, it’s only a quarter to 9 here in Maldives. That said, I would love to hear Dave Burton’s opinions on climate change…

      • greenman3610 Says:

        holy crap. careful what you wish for….

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Google “Dave Burton Climate Crock” and you will get over 4 million hits. Start at the top and work down and you will “hear” Dave’s OPINIONS on climate change, religion, and conservative politics (but not much real science). I hope you have a strong stomach.

        Be sure to report in to the nearest ranger station before you wander into the wilderness of Dave’s “opinions”, so they can come looking for you if you get lost.. Better yet, get a large ball of string and tie the end to the bumper of your cat. Pay it out as you go—-you may never find your way back if you don’t. A good flashlight will help too.

    • daryan12 Says:

      I sense that even Halli’burton is embarrassed by these poll numbers. Do you realize how this looks to me in Europe or for people in the rest of the world? Should we really consider the US as an ally when you’re now so backward looking that 40% of ye don’t accept basic scientific facts? How is the US going to retain its scientific lead over other nations? If I was a corporate board looking to setup a new research unit or build a factory to make a new drug do you think I would base my facility in the US after seeing this poll?

  4. […] Devolution: GOP Gets 10 Points Dumb and Dumber ( […]

  5. […] posted earlier today about the  Republican Party’s hostility to scientific knowledge. Just before his death, Carl Sagan warned us about the perils of a technological society where fewer […]

  6. […] now decided to embrace modern science.  That may be too much to expect given that many of them haven’t yet caught up with 19th century advances in biology.  But the crusade against climate science seems to have taken the back seat for right now  in […]

  7. […] 2013/12/31: PSinclair: Devolution: GOP Gets 10 Points Dumb and Dumber […]

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