Skip to main content

It's official.  A Republican member of Congress has now officially stated in front of cameras that he believes evolution is not merely wrong but is a liberal conspiracy to lead people to hell.

A lot of people have talked recently about changes in the character of conservatism.  Some talk about how much angrier it is, some talk about the increasing religiousness of it.  But I think they've mostly missed the real core change that's happened, and why it's there.

Classically speaking, conservatives were people who viewed new ideas with skepticism, questioning changes to the ways things had always been done.  That's fine, I am by nature myself a skeptic, and when conservatives did that they were providing a necessary service.  Some changes are in fact a bad idea, and somebody should be around to question them.  That's actually a core value of science, as well as journalism.

What has happened lately is that conservatism is now at it's core driven by fanatacism, not skepticism.  A fanatic is the opposite of a skeptic.  He has a few ideas that he never questions at all, and he reacts against anything which threatens them.  There is no authority which can convince him to change his mind, and his core ideas effect how he responds to every new idea which he hears.

I honestly think that if you look at polling data, that extreme sounding statement is pretty provable.  A significant part of the Republican party thinks that the Earth is 6000-9000 years old.  That's an utterly ridiculous thing to say in the face of modern science, but they believe it to be true, and I do not believe anyone will ever change their mind.  Many Republicans fervently believe that birth control should never be taught in school and teenagers should never receive contraception.

Of course, we've known for a long time that countries which practice those things have lower rates of teenage pregnancy.  It's such a well known fact that so far as I know, no conservative even tries to counter the science.

They just don't care about those facts.

A lot has been made about a 'reality bubble' that Republican exist in.  There is a hard core of the base that watches FOX news and nothing else, and mainly chooses to associate only with other conservative Republicans.  They are essentially choosing to segregate themselves from a society which they no longer feel they are a part of.

Demonizing the media, science, and education is the new conservative opiate.  This 'opiate' is far more dangerous to the country than any drug we've produced.

The truth is, you can only deal with a problem once you admit it exists.  And furthermore, it is only possible to improve yourself after you've realized something is wrong.  The first thing you are told in any drug counseling program is that first, they have to admit that they have a problem.  Until they've done that, there is no hope of recovery.  

Conspiracy theories are popular precisely because they encourage you to believe that you haven't done anything wrong; it is all someone else's fault.  That's what makes them

And once you have convinced yourself that every bad thing which is said about you is merely the conspiracy of some outside group, you stop taking responsibility for anything.  And when that happens, the process of maturing and improving yourself simply stops.

As things stand today, Republicans are prepared to ignore scientists when they talk about the climate.  They feel similarly about journalists who report what scientists say, and of course any politician of any outside group is distrusted.  If a politician who they consider one of their own disagrees with them a little too strongly, today they are very likely to literally drive him right out of their own party.  Any Republican who too strongly questions the perceived reality will be quickly be driven from office.

So politicians, journalists, and scientists are out.  Teachers of course are perceived as liberal as well, and these days there seems to be a combative attitude towards even the idea of education in general.  And with that, all of the pillars of society are now fruit from a poisoned tree.

Lately, we have seen the conspiracy theories increase in scope and become more and more ridiculous.  Today, four years after his election, many Republicans are still convinced that Obama is a Muslim.  That isn't simply disproven, it's absurd.  It's such a stupid idea that most people would dismiss it immediately, but the idea lives on despite repeated attempts to stamp it out even by the party orthodoxy.

And if a poll gathered by the same means as the others which came before them tells them something they don't like?  Well that must be just another liberal conspiracy.

What we are looking at is the growth of a kind of subculture that accepts nothing that the rest of the country produces without first filtering it into it's own reality, and this is a dangerous thing.  I wish I knew how it would end, but I'm not sure that it will.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

    by martianexpatriate on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 08:32:38 AM PDT

  •  the same guy declared that he relied on the Bible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mookins, martianexpatriate

    for all of his information.  The problem is that the text is very ethnocentrally slanted, i.e. dealing with the mores and culture of the ancient Hebrews so that enormous empires are mentioned only to the extent they impacted ancient Israel.  Mention to these literalists that research indicates Israel was never a huge power in its own right but existed mostly as a de facto vassal or client state to the empires around it and watch their heads explode.

    I am amused that there is actually an entire branch of archeology entitled biblical archeology which is dedicated to finding historical proof that the OT is absolutely correct and from time to time, they "discover" various artifacts, ignoring the fact that there has been a healthy market in fakes in the ME since the time of Constantine (some of the fakes have become collectibles).  The latest conflict is over the "James ossiary" I think

  •  conservatism is a mental illness (2+ / 0-)

    Paranoia, delusions, disorganized speech and thinking, hallucinations ("How can you not see it?!", dissociation, etc.

    No, they can't help themselves.  People who have mental illnesses by definition cannot recognize themselves as abnormal.

    Conservatism is a well-defined cluster of abnormal thought, speech, and behavior that can manifest in a large and otherwise heterogeneous group of people, independent of environment, and is demonstratively harmful to its sufferers and those around them as it interferes with their ability to perceive reality and respond to it rationally and effectively.  And unlike other forms of mental illness, it's transmissible.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 09:40:43 AM PDT

    •  At this point (0+ / 0-)

      it's clustered very strongly in the strongwest, and some places like Pueblo, Colorado unfortunately.  I've noticed that when i ask people about their beliefs, they are generally aware of the FOX news take, and nothing else.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 09:57:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  CT types gravitate towards Southwest, Mtn West (0+ / 0-)

        I'd argue that this is a self-selection effect.  Conspiracy types move to these sparsely populated areas where they think they'll be safer from the "librul" police state, Al Qaeda nukes, the coming race war, the starving hordes post-economic collapse, or whatever they think is more likely to get them wherever there are lots of people around.

        To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

        by Visceral on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 10:55:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I suspect (0+ / 0-)

    ..that it is a conspiracy.

    If you didn't have any core beliefs - if to you there was never such a thing as enough money or power and you could create an army of mindless drones..

    You would have created the right-wing noise machine, spent money getting propaganda onto the airwaves and into print, and supported Dominionist preachers spewing nonsense, even if it meant burning the country to the ground.

    It's happened in the past. Probably too many times and in too many places to count.

    Perhaps one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Oct 10, 2012 at 10:32:35 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site