Julee Cruise, "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

>> Friday, July 27, 2012

I have been trying all morning to figure out what I should do about a Gallop poll showing nearly half of Americans surveyed believe "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so." More than half of the remaining half believe in God-guided evolution; I suppose they've seen 2001. I don't particularly care on that score--evolution without magic sky people, evolution with magic sky people, at least there's a large segment of the population who apparently have some notion of time scale and descent through common ancestry.

But nearly half of the Americans Gallop surveyed think the human species is less than 10,000 years old. Even if you quibble over the lousiness of the question--and I think it's pretty lousy, the way the question is phrased to start with--what the study is really showing more than how many people believe in Young Earth Creationism YEC) is how many Americans just have a basic ignorance of science. I realize those things overlap; but the thing is, someone could pick the "10,000 years" answer and not really even be a YECer, merely ignorant (e.g. some doofus might think the Earth is trillions and trillions of years old but God only got around to creating humans of whole cloth 3.6 million days ago give-or-take.

It isn't just the YECers fault. Partly, yeah. But we also just do a shitty job funding schools and providing for science education all around, y'know; someone could have picked the 10k option as a blind guess, for all we know, because they had shit for biology classes. And there's that whole endemic cultural thing we have going in America, where we mistrust elites--including scientists and educators and anyone who seems too nerdy; anyone can be an expert if they read enough books, so how dare you act like you're smarter than I am about climate, vaccinations or fossils? And a lot of that cultural mistrust, which goes back to the earliest days of the Republic when every gentleman or aspiring gentleman was a dilettante naturalist/general/statesman/philosopher/farmer/economist, has been amplified in the past twenty or thirty years by the political and media classes in various ways; the political classes love exploiting American paranoia, the media classes make their money by throwing fuel on it.

I get to wondering whether the Romans knew they were in decline. Or there's the Chinese example: the Qing just stuck their fingers in their ears and closed their eyes and made "Nuh" noises for their last hundred years until it was too late; they took a few half-assed stabs at reform and were washed beneath thirty years of civil wars, warlordism and foreign occupation until Maoism looked just swell (to be fair, up until the Cultural Revolution, I'm not sure it wasn't, but that's another topic). Did any of these civilizations that got too dumb, too complacent, too reliant on their military strength to keep getting them out of jams even while they were rotting from within, did any of them ever have any clue the tires were getting wobbly and were about to blow off just past the fail-safe point just around Dead Man's Curve?

I keep thinking about a line from Blade Runner, you know? Roy tells Pris they're on their own and Pris says--

Then we're stupid and we'll die.

--which sounds like an unfortunate summary of the status of American civilization right now. We are stupid, yeah. I think it's going to kill us.


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