Forbes Blogs may not really be the responsibility of Forbes.
An interesting piece there by Rick Ungar, says (in part)
A Bloomberg National Poll of adults 18 and over reveals that 40% of Tea Party supporters are 55 or older. It should, therefore, come as no big surprise that, according to an April 18th Marist Poll, 70% of Tea Party members strongly oppose the Paul Ryan plan to dismantle Medicare as we know it – a plan which received the overwhelming support of the GOP Congress when put to a vote.
The fog was lifting and the death rattle of the Tea Party movement suddenly grew audible.
As Tea Partiers took a look at their own bank accounts and realized that they were, sadly, not among the millionaires and billionaires who have funded their movement, yet another light bulb switched on. Why, they began to wonder, were they being so completely supportive of continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy when the wealthy were leaving it to the rank and file of the movement to actually pay the bill for smaller government while the rich squirreled away another 10% in tax reductions?
While Tea Party acolytes may have been misled, they aren’t stupid. Thus, the previously unthinkable began to appear all too true.
Could it be that it was never the government who was their enemy after all? Had they been used by their wealthy sponsors as some perverse investment in a scheme to lower taxes even further for those who need it the least at the cost of those who gave their loyalty to the cause?
Even worse, supporters had to wonder if the Tea Party had inadvertently -and ironically- created government as the enemy by electing people who would take away Medicare and other entitlements that are a part of our cultural and national covenant that the Tea Partiers rely on every bit as much as the rest of us – and all so that they could allow billionaires and others who can afford high-priced lobbyists to keep more of their money?
Meanwhile, Steven Lewandowsky makes the obvious connection between birthers and climate deniers.
What motivates people who, based on Republican demographics, likely earn a living in business or dentistry or some other well-paying job requiring at least a modicum of literacy, to take leave of their senses and to subscribe to patent absurdities instead?
On May 19 2010, the US National Academy of Sciences, America’s highest scientific body, summarised the current state of climate science particularly clearly: “Some scientific conclusions or theories have been so thoroughly examined and tested, and supported by so many independent observations and results, that their likelihood of subsequently being found to be wrong is vanishingly small. Such conclusions and theories are then regarded as settled facts. This is the case for the conclusions that the Earth system is warming and that much of this warming is very likely due to human activities.”
The late Stephen Jay Gould referred to a fact as something that it would be “perverse to withhold provisional assent.” Notwithstanding the Academy’s clear statement about the existence of global warming and its human-made causes, recent surveys reveal that the majority of US Republicans do not accept this scientific fact.
Indeed, tragically and paradoxically, among Republicans acceptance of the science decreases with their level of education as well as with their self-reported knowledge: Whereas Democrats who believe they understand global warming better also are more likely to believe that it poses a threat in their lifetimes, among Republicans increased belief in understanding global warming is associated with decreased perception of its severity. The more they think they know, the more ignorant they reveal themselves to be.
Will people eventually wake up to how badly their trust has been abused?
James Fallows thinks it will not be soon. On the birther episode (h/t Andrew Sullivan) and the recent release of the infamous “long form” birth certificate, he says:
“Here we have a wonderful real-world test: if ‘actual knowledge’ mattered, the number of people who thought Obama was foreign-born would approach zero by next week — with exceptions for illiterates, the mentally disabled, paranoid schizophrenics, etc. My guess is that the figures will barely change,”
Chris Mooney agrees.
Now it can’t escape our notice that Fallows’ sardonic prediction seems to align with the “facts don’t matter” school of communication; the idea that even if we have facts we ought to be communicating “narratives”. But I think we should leave the construction of narratives to fiction, and somehow get people to understand that “science communication” by definition is about what is most true, which is almost always interesting, and not about what is most interesting, which is almost always untrue.
Update: Some examples of the denialist mindset hard at work, denying.