Corrente

If you have "no place to go," come here!

I do not read PZ Myers nearly often enough...

... and this post reminds me why I should stop there regularly.

Read all the way to the end!

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ekster's picture
Submitted by ekster on

This is funny, but leaves me feeling more sad than amused. It's hazardous to generalize about the people who are producing/consuming this kind of "scholarship" (just as it's hazardous to generalize about Occupiers), but the bottom-line impression I'm left with is that of a legion of Americans who are fighting a hopeless rear-guard action about what are to them deeply-felt matters of conscience.

I've known a lot of Dr-Jean-K-Lightner-comma-retied-veterinarians over the years. True to stereotype, I've found a high incidence of kind and generous people among them, which makes it easier to regard her Greater Gliding Possum howler as a mistake, rather than an occasion for disdain, but that's not what I actually want to get at here, which is rather the following. At work these days I'm sitting near a guy of similar description (PhD rather than DVM, etc., but mutatis mutandis). What I notice is that there are just two people among our colleagues who are seriously exercised about the rule of law, democracy, corruption, third parties, MSM censorship/propaganda, civil liberties, and the Constitution: him and me. (Of course I'm leaving out the whole crapload of things we disagree about, which is a lot of things. But mostly I'm struck by how much he sounds like me.)

Sincerely non-trolling questions: I wonder if an opportunity is being squandered by driving these people into the arms of the right, where they are not mocked for what they are trying to do? (Again, I'm generalizing: I recognize that the left is not a monolithic actor, with a monolithic opportunity to laugh or not laugh at the antediluvian plushy. And it is both funny and awful. But you get where I am going with this.) If the price of keeping these people invested in the public school system were, say, to give creationism and evolution equal classroom time, would I do that deal? If the price of home rule empowerment to keep fracking out of Ohio were home rule empowerment to teach only creationism in the Jesusland county of your choice, would I do that deal?

Probably I'm missing some useful test that can be applied here. But that's my not-fully-thought-through gut reaction to the article ...

Submitted by lambert on

1. I'm appalled by the way that Lightner's article uses the trappings of scholarship without performing actual scholarship (and that is what to me is so ironic about the [spoiler alert] at the end of the post. So the strength of scholarly apparatus is such that those who try to fake it get caught out. Cites and everything!

2. I'm not religious at all, and it really frosts me to be evangelized in the first place, and then to have it done on the basis of fake scholarship....

3. That said, I spent Thanksgiving with some good friends who are also Obama-lovin' NPR listeners, and either out of cowardice or despair kept silence (since the last breach after 2008 took some years to repair, and this is a small town). They too would scorn Lightner. And yet, on issues of gardening, nutrition, MMT and money, as well local sovereignty generally, I have a heck of a lot more in common with a friend or two from out in the woods than I do with my friends from the middle class to which I barely still belong.

It's a puzzler. Thanks for picking up on this. The post really punched one of my hot buttons (scholarship) and I missed the larger picture. The Buddha would recommend compassion...

nihil obstet's picture
Submitted by nihil obstet on

Disagreement and disdain shouldn't be the same thing. I will absolutely agree that we shouldn't sneer at people of good will to their faces (and they get the benefit of lots of doubt as to their good will). I do reserve the indulgence of snickering with friends at things like the plushy, but I'm not a very nice person.

Teaching creationism as science in the public schools is different. Would your colleague who is "seriously exercised about the rule of law, democracy, corruption, third parties, MSM censorship/propaganda, civil liberties, and the Constitution" be appeased if we ignore rule of law, civil liberties, and the Constitution to proselytize for a religious view or ignore democracy when the majority of people prefer teaching solid science?

Trying to figure out what silly little nonsense we can buy these people with is not a promising approach, even if we think we're giving them what they want. Most people figure out eventually when you're really dissing them.

ekster's picture
Submitted by ekster on

Teaching creationism as science in the public schools is different. Would your colleague who is "seriously exercised about the rule of law, democracy, corruption, third parties, MSM censorship/propaganda, civil liberties, and the Constitution" be appeased if we ignore rule of law, civil liberties, and the Constitution to proselytize for a religious view or ignore democracy when the majority of people prefer teaching solid science?

I can't see into his soul, but yeah, very likely he would. (And there is worse to fear from a proselytizing government than creationism in the public schools, to be sure.) But then I doubt I know more than a handful of people with the experience and conscience to remember, should they find themselves or theirs suddenly holding the levers of power, that the rules still matter. My life is full of people, friends, people I like, not religious at all, who can't be bothered even to weigh the legality of Executive Branch activities, since it's "our guy" in office. I can't see into their souls either, but I have to believe that their stories are not permanently written, that they can and will still respond to things once they finally see them, that I can be a good influence on them, that they can grow. I used to be even stupider than I am now, and have myself defended evil (lesser and greater) positions. I have, I hope, improved. At any rate, I would prefer not to extrapolate from my colleague's religious preoccupations to the conclusion that he's an actual fascist, not until he actually does something on that score.

Trying to figure out what silly little nonsense we can buy these people with is not a promising approach, even if we think we're giving them what they want. Most people figure out eventually when you're really dissing them.

All true, but I didn't mean to be dissing anyone, and I wasn't proposing to "buy" anyone either. I'm genuinely entertaining the idea (no doubt foolishly) that dissenters at different ends of the spectrum could agree on enough, even if only negatively, to make a unified protest out of it. (In my defense, I've been reading Kim Stanley Robinson's _The Years of Rice and Salt_ all day, and my head is full of the spectacle of patient Buddhist taming of warring dogmas in pursuit of a better society. Robinson has a particular knack for making me believe that alternatives are possible ... the Mars books were a major eye-opener for me; FWIW.)

Also, in particular re:

the majority of people prefer teaching solid science

I had a vague idea that there are school districts in the country where a majority might not so prefer (just as there are townships in Ohio where more fracking jobs might not be preferred), and that might simply be a wrong idea, in which case I take it back with an apology for the confusion. If that is in fact the case, perhaps a more apposite issue dear to Lightner-types could be adduced so that I don't have to walk back the whole thing above; maybe whatever Lambert had in mind when he wondered whether Vermont and Jesusland might not be next on the list after Catalunya and Quebec go their ways.

ekster's picture
Submitted by ekster on

He's no Homer or Shakespeare, that's for sure; but then well-done character-through-dialogue is always in short supply. I've never read any Dick (still retreating from an "I don't read science fiction" principle) so I can't make comparisons on that front, either. It was valuable reading for me personally though, and there are a number of particular things I like about it.