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Why are conservatives afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson


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#1 AnBr

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 01:20 PM

The right is getting tired of being called out on their antiscience rhetoric and are countering with the accusation that the left is just a bunch of ignorant nerds. I stumbled across this back and forth on the BBC. Charles C. W. Cooke threw a temper tantrum with this diatribe on the National Review. He refers to Tyson as

Quote

the fetish and totem of the extraordinarily puffed-up “nerd” culture that has of late started to bloom across the United States.

This nonsense was countered by Amanda Marcotte of Alternet. http://www.salon.com...ranoia_partner/

All of this was picked up by the LA Times oped piece Why are conservatives afraid of Neil deGrasse Tyson?

So the right would have us ignore when they refer to the earth as being 6,000 years old or when a member of the House Committee on Science preaches that evolution, Big Bang theory and embryology are lies from the "deepest pits of hell".
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#2 Rabiner's Sister

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 02:07 PM

Our good friend Neil represents, in some sense, conservatives' inability to come to terms with (and therefore attract) the pro-intellectual Millennials. He is Science Incarnate, and popular to boot. Their anti-Science rhetoric appeals to the traditional base, but it's losing the younger demographic, which they need to win. They simply don't know how to balance these two propositions, so they call anyone who is vocally pro-Science arrogant.

For fun, consider these stats from Dec 2013/March 2014 Pew Surveys:

In 2009, 54% of Republicans believed in evolution. That number dropped to 43% in 2013. Democrats, on the other hand, went from 64% to 67%. This generally matches what we see from Politicians.

Moreover, 68% of 18-29 y/o's believe in human evolution, and it starts dropping for each age group. We're also less likely to believe in God, and even if we do, we are less likely to consider ourselves religious.

http://www.pewsocial...s-in-adulthood/
http://www.pewforum....uman-evolution/

#3 D. R. Tucker

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 02:36 PM

"Tell me, what did Neil DeGrasse Tyson do to be targeted by the wingnuts at National Review?"

http://www.washingto...ckout051383.php

#4 baw1064

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 03:44 PM

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing! :)

BTW, when is this "nerd culture' going to take over in the U.S.? I've been waiting my whole life for that to happen.
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Posted 03 August 2014 - 04:52 PM

 baw1064, on 03 August 2014 - 03:44 PM, said:

BTW, when is this "nerd culture' going to take over in the U.S.? I've been waiting my whole life for that to happen.

It's not like yeast, you know -- the yeast in the bread I'm baking right now is doubling every few hours. My nerds have had more than thirty years and haven't doubled yet.
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#6 indy

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 07:55 PM

We are all born ignorant, but one must really work at it to remain stupid.---Benjamin Franklin

Sometimes the hard work of remaining stupid is writing hit pieces in which you lay bare all your insecurities.

#7 Progressive whisperer

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Posted 03 August 2014 - 08:50 PM

If the basis for scientific denial is religion, then the fewer people who are "religious" the less we should see. That might accelerate rapidly in the near future, barring "awakenings". The economic based denial such as global warming is probably different, lots if FUD from bought media etc. not sure how well it will work without the underlying religious skepticism.
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#8 J-CA

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 09:06 AM

I read the LA Times article. False equivalency alert!

Quote

The reason this status quo has been allowed to persist is that the general population isn’t much better. Conservatives continue to fight any attempts to combat climate change, while many liberals are refusing to vaccinate their children over fears of a nonexistent link to autism. It wouldn’t be hard to predict a liberal backlash against Tyson, similar to the one we’re seeing from conservatives, if he were to speak more prominently about his endorsement of genetically modified foods — one of the more scientifically unfounded banner arguments of the left.
On vaccines of course the split is fairly even, but unbeknownst to our dear author the lean is actually Republican/Conservative.
http://www.publicpol...ries_040213.pdf
(See page 11, but the verylib-to-verycon splits were 12%/18%/23%/19%/22%)

GMOs are certainly more of a lefty thing (70% Dems think them unsafe), but polling shows that Republicans themselves are split 50/50. Concern about them is essentially universal, 93% support for product labelling.
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#9 Traveler

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:06 AM

Typical MSM. Of course this being opinion, I guess you get what you paid for.
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#10 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:23 AM

 Progressive whisperer, on 03 August 2014 - 08:50 PM, said:

If the basis for scientific denial is religion, then the fewer people who are "religious" the less we should see.

Not really. The scare quotes are because the denialism stems from the same human traits, not from the doctrines themselves. I'm afraid we're stuck with this mishegas.
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
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These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
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#11 J-CA

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:40 AM

I made the mistake of actually reading the linked article in the National Review.
That thing was terrible and offensive in so many ways I find it difficult to quantify or express the feelings of disgust that overwhelmed me while I was reading it.
That kind and degree of resentment is difficult for me to understand.
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#12 indy

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:48 AM

I just imagine him typing up that piece on one of these:

Posted Image

And then I think, oh, I get it. 'Nerd' is a catchall that represents the way things have changed since then.

#13 Progressive whisperer

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:55 AM

 J-CA, on 04 August 2014 - 10:40 AM, said:

I made the mistake of actually reading the linked article in the National Review.
That thing was terrible and offensive in so many ways I find it difficult to quantify or express the feelings of disgust that overwhelmed me while I was reading it.
That kind and degree of resentment is difficult for me to understand.

I've skipped the full article for mental health reasons.

It's worth remembering that a segment of American culture has always been anti-intellectual. "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach". The lionization of the un-schooled tycoon or hero.

The 1960s saw a lot of "wonders if science", but I guess that died out with the popularity of the space program.

Edit:

I should have noted, one source if resentment is probably that the pols can no longer pander to the base one time and to the moderates the next. One way or the other, it tends to get reported or show up on youtube. They must really hate that loss if control on the message.
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#14 LFC

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 11:18 AM

I read the first page of the National Review article. The word "meltdown" comes to mind.
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#15 Traveler

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 12:01 PM

/dr, but a minute glancing at the best comments showed they were pretty much par for the course.
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#16 Joanna

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 03:44 PM

"if he were to speak more prominently about his endorsement of genetically modified foods"

He does speak openly about his endorsement of GMOs, one of his major arguments is that humans have been genetically modifiying food forever.

#17 Traveler

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 04:15 PM

GMOs are not the bane that most think in terms of being bad per se. It's their environmental implications that are disturbing. As J-CA and I discussed in another thread, they can be good, but only if you practice integrated farming management. Which most farmers don't do. So I still have my doubts about the costs being minimal, but the benefits are certainly worth it in very many ways.
"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened."-- Winston Churchill
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#18 indy

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:33 PM

Actually, I think it's the implications for intellectual property rights that are most disturbing. Monsanto leads the way on that regard, and I can only characterize some of the things they are trying to do as evil.

#19 D. C. Sessions

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 06:35 PM

Traveler and indy:

Neither of your points apply to golden rice. It's not modified for pest resistance but for nutritional enhancement, and it's totally public domain.

Which hasn't kept it from being introduced, at the cost of many, many lives and even more eyesight. (Low vitamin A reserves are a significant factor in the hundreds of thousands of measles deaths every year.)
The way a lot of catastrophes happen is that X doesn't occur because there are safeguards in place, therefore people assume X isn't a worry and they remove the safeguards. Then X happens.
— Nate Silver
"Robots aren't the problem. Capitalism is." -- Last words of Stephen Hawking.
These days, "libertarian" is just a euphemism for a Nazi who's afraid to commit.
"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." -- Heather Heyer
"I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." -- Her mother
"Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events." -- some RINO

#20 J-CA

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 07:10 PM

Most GMO complainery is based on the idea that something bad for humans is in the food itself because it is GMO, not based on complex arguments regarding ecosystems and intellectual property rights. The case that any current GMO food will kill people is pretty tough to make but that is fear that most of the great unwashed is actually concerned about.
Stuff like Monarch Butterfly extinction concerns me, IP law is simply a human construction, we can change it, screwing up the planet not so much.
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