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Normally, I'm mild-mannered. I generally do not use the word "fuck" for entertainment's sake, for instance. I don't flush when I hear the shower running in the other bathroom. I don't accost people who've cut me off in traffic, if we both have the misfortune of simultaneously pulling up to a red light at an intersection. So, I'm honestly not wishing to be dramatic for drama's sake when I ask, rhetorically for the moment but also with the hopes that my query will be answered by thoughtful posters--when did we go from a nation that honored learning and that produced hundreds of thousands of scientists capable of putting us on the moon, to a nation of crack-addled dipshits?

Intro

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When did we go from people capable of holding dinnertime conversations on politics and basic science to a nation filled with people with the attention spans of a hyperactive terrier?

If you teach science, and you have a stomach capable of withstanding the sights and smells associated with a full autopsy of a drowning victim, wander over to Heidi Cullen's blog on the Weather Channel and observe what happens when the internet makes public communication possible for folks we never used to have to hear much from--the terminally stupid.

Read posts by people who are angry that Dr. Cullen has made the monumentally unremarkable statement that anti global-warming dogma is junk science and that meteorologists--who have as much right to offer authoritative opinions on climate change as Imams in Iran have to offer authoritative opinions on the Holocaust--should probably do everyone a favor and either read the literature on the subject of global warming or--my word's, not hers--shut the fuck up.

I'm a literature guy, not a science guy, but that just makes all of this even more troubling to me, because it isn't like I can say, "Well, I'm not a scientist, so I understand why all this is so complex for the deniers." Jesus. I'm not a scientist and I'm here to report that all this is exceedingly simple for a normal human being with a normal intelligence to be able to understand. It doesn't require calculus. It doesn't require an understanding of advanced statistics. It requires a basic belief that people who have doctoral specializations in a subject mostly know what they're talking about when they talk about those issues.

Sadly, as I pointed out earlier, the internet's one major flaw is that it gives the unredeemedly stupid a giant megaphone, so that people whose jobs involve hairnets can wander onto the blog page of a woman with a doctorate from Columbia University in Oceanographic and Atmospheric Dynamics (short version: climatology) and claim that she clearly doesn't know the most basic principles of science, like how stuff gets cold in the wintertime (take that, you global warming freaks!!), or how the poster knows that Cullen must be in the pocket of Big Business, because she supports global warming theory, and we all know how much of Big Business is driven by the very people who spend their vacations attacking whaling ships in little rubber dinghies, or driving nails into endangered old-growth forest trees.

I understand that right-wingers fill a niche for mentally-damaged people. I understand that people who don't have college degrees are mostly mystified by scientific method and by the rigors of peer-reviewed research. Being ignorant of scientific method doesn't make a person a dipshit. What makes a person a dipshit is the inability to post responses to a scientifically arrived-at position that doesn't rely on conspiracy theory (Big Eco-business-driven theory), clap-trap (global warming being caused by sun, which has become noticeably whiter, apparently, over the last 50 years), and an empirical foundation that takes "would you like to supersize that?" as it's first postulate and works--badly--from there.

Sorry there are no links. And I'm gonna warn you ahead of time that my tags on this are gonna suck. I don't really know how to add in links, and I'm old enough to where I can now freely admit that I don't even really want to know how to add in links. I just hit 41, which means I'm now done clickety-clacking up to the top of the roller-coaster and I'm about to begin the sickening descent into the Mine Tunnel. I'm praying to God that they were just joking about my needing to be below a certain height before this ride began.

So, o.k. Done with the rant. Do the following. Go to Cullen's blog. Be sickened by the many stupid posts. Return. Write a 500 word essay. On my desk for Monday morning. Again, just to clarify: Cullen. Read. Sickened. Essay. Desk. Monday. That is all.

Update: nightprowlkitty provides a link to an earlier call-to-arms on this that I missed before writing this. That one comes with links!! Second comment down here, if you're looking....
Jpdate II: Just to demonstrate old dogs are capable of surprising stuff,

http://www.dailykos.com/...
 

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Originally posted to steve davis on Fri Jan 19, 2007 at 04:56 PM PST.

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