Faith is a terrible thing when it blinds one to truth.
No better example can be found than the otherwise functional people who continue in the face of all evidence to believe that global climate change is a conspiracy. It doesn’t matter to them that some of the people who found the first evidence for global warming have been dead for decades, and would seem to have lost all motivation to conspire. It doesn’t matter to them that tens of thousands of scientists of all kinds from all over the world have independently come to the same conclusion. It doesn’t matter to them that the evidence is all around them, and in the news every day.
It doesn’t matter to them that there isn’t the slightest reason for all these scientists to conspire on reports of global warming; no payoff of any kind is remotely possible for the fabled conspirators. It doesn’t matter to them that it’s more than a little odd that this conspiracy is so airtight that, out of the tens of thousands of conspiring scientists worldwide from dozens of countries doing widely varied kinds of research, not a single one has spilled the beans about the conspiracy.
It doesn’t matter because they believe.
Faith is a terrible thing
that blinds one to truths
that cannot be rationally disputed.
It is distressing that significant numbers of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, something that was definitively settled five hundred years ago. At least a quarter of us deny the reality of evolution, in spite of annual evidence in the form of newly evolved flu viruses, and thousands upon thousands of other elements of evidence. Is it necessary to sit each of these people down and explain how science came to the indisputable conclusions it did? Maybe it is, because they haven’t learned about it from any of the readily available books, articles, or TV shows, let alone their free public education. Maybe they watch Fox exclusively, and read nothing but the Bible.
Then there are the religious beliefs, such as the age of the earth being 4,000 years, that Noah literally built a boat that carried all the earth’s creatures, which amount to many millions. (Remember, this boat must be able to handle creatures like pairs of sixty-five foot dinosaurs that supposedly lived a few thousand years ago [this just in: the largest dinosaur, at 130 feet and 77 tons, was found in Patagonia], in the time of Moses and the Egyptian pyramids—curious that nobody who lived at the time mentioned them—two each of all the great pachyderms, not to mention the hundreds of millions of insects and other small creatures. Were tapeworms included? They must have been, along with nematodes, Guinea worm, and schistosomiasis.) It often seems to me that much of religion, particularly fundamentalist religion, is devoted to justifying hatred and mistreatment of others. Religion should be about how to live a moral life, to appreciate one’s place in the universe, nature, and community, to love beauty, truth, and other people, not to tell some people they don’t deserve to live.
Religion should be about
how to live a moral life,
to appreciate one’s place
in the universe and in nature.
Significant numbers of Americans believe in various conspiracy theories, including that a secret cabal, headed by Obama and his secret black army, will determine the New World Order of global repression. Where do they think this army of many millions is at the moment? Suburban Maryland? Bermuda? Kenya? Do they really think the nations of the world, that can hardly agree on anything at all, are simply going to go along with Obama’s dastardly plan that only conspiracy theorists know about?
Numerous nutcase theories abound, and are believed by small percentages of Americans. But even 5% of the population amounts to nearly sixteen million people. Sixteen million who believe that jet contrails are mind-control agents dispersed by the government. Do these people not know how moisture forms on a cold glass, or where rain comes from? How is it that nobody’s mind is controlled after some seventy years of mind controlling? They believe that mind-control signals are mixed with TV signals; that Osama bin Laden is still alive and Paul McCartney (who will appear in SF shortly) is dead; that the moon landing was faked—and so on and on.
Are all these people unusually gullible,
or just stupid?
Built on these are a whole series of impossible stupidities involving President Obama: he’s the Devil himself, the anti-Christ, he’s a Muslim, born in Kenya, he plans to take everyone’s guns away (isn’t it time he got started?)—on and on.
It’s distressing, not just that these stupidities exist, but that they have any following at all in a nation where education is both free and mandatory. Five percent believers equals nearly 16M people, but even 1% believers comes to more than 3M. Over one hundred of the world’s nations have populations under three million. Three million is a huge number of people to believe in such irrational nonsense.