US Politics

“Modern” Republicans and Reality

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Harper’s Magazine provides statistical proof that reasoned debate between the two parties inchristine-odonnell-e1347908043558-432x307 the United States may well be impossible:

  • Percentage of Canadians who believe in global warming: 98.
  • Percentage of Americans who do: 70.
  • Of Republicans: 48.
  • Percentage of Republicans who believe in demonic possession: 68.

When you’re dealing with a party comprised of more people who believe in demonic possession than scientific evidence, it makes a great deal of sense that our nation is headed in the direction it appears to be.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

8 Comments

  • Don, your intramural squabbles are far more revealing. http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2257

    The 20-year effort by environmentalists to establish climate science as the primary basis for far-reaching action to decarbonize the global energy economy today lies in ruins. Backlash in reaction to “Climategate” and recent controversies involving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 2007 assessment report are but the latest evidence that such efforts have evidently failed.

    While the urge to blame fossil-fuel-funded skeptics for this recent bad turn of events has proven irresistible for most environmental leaders and pundits, forward-looking greens wishing to ascertain what might be salvaged from the wreckage would be well advised to look closer to home. Climate science, even at its most uncontroversial, could never motivate the remaking of the entire global energy economy. Efforts to use climate science to threaten an apocalyptic future should we fail to embrace green proposals, and to characterize present-day natural disasters as terrifying previews of an impending day of reckoning, have only served to undermine the credibility of both climate science and progressive energy policy.

    Did you know, according to Pew, that 77% of Dems say they “never doubt the existence of God?”

    • The survey wasn’t about policy or even whether or not humans caused global warming. It merely asked if the planet was getting warmer.

      When the basic facts (which are not in dispute) are questioned, it’s hard to imagine much policy discussion emerging.

  • I expect that if we lived 150 years ago the dominant topic of the day would be some aspect of our existence that spelled doom. It’s always something. I think human-caused warming has strong evidence in its support, and that financial interests can easily turn on the PR machine to create enough doubt that nothing is done to stop it.

    I used to believe in peak oil. Turned out to be wrong. Our essential problem is thinking that we ever have enough data or understand complex interactions. We do not. Never have, but we have always presumed that our science is enough science. It is not.

  • Though I agree with the sentiment that the background probability of an individual being capable of rationality takes a serious hit when that individual also believes in demonic possession, I think it is a mistake to use these kinds of statistics to draw any conclusions about social groups due to the apparent ability of people to compartmentalize anything.

    The same study that showed 68% of Republicans buying into the possibility of demonic possession, showed that 48% of Democrats buy into the same thing. Is half the Democratic party hopeless?

    In Geographic knowledge we find similar disturbing statistics. In 2011, nearly 50% of Americans aged 18-34 could not find India on a map. Statistics like this really lend themselves to the hypothesis that we are all F#$@ed, but I don’t buy it.

    Strangely, the same poll that showed 68% of Republicans thinking demonic possession as a possibility, showed that a higher percentage of Democrats believe in Ghosts than their Republican counterparts. I can imagine a Republican pointing to this statistic and saying, “See. They’re all nuts.”

    Or even when look at the country as a whole we can word things in such a way as to be disturbed by the statistics. If we said that 77% of Americans believe that a maximally good disembodied cosmic mind sent an avatar of himself to the world, so that his magic blood could be spilled and sacrificed to himself, to satisfy a loophole in a set of rules he himself authored, to save us all from going to a place he himself made, we could easily find ourselves sinking into a nihilistic view when it comes to ever achieving any sort of progress. But hey, that’s the Christianity most Americans accept as the truth.

    Anecdotally, I’m opposed to using these sorts of statistics as arguments because though I think demonic possession, ghosts, and disembodied cosmic minds are all equally silly, people compartmentalize their beliefs and aliefs, and in other aspects excel at rationality. I know people in my life who I look toward for rational advice and leadership, who also buy into these outlandish things. I would most people do.

    Instead of ridiculing supposed Republican “beliefs”, we can simply look at the things they say as well as their voting record, and still come to the conclusions that yeah, “They’re Nuts”. This blog is excellent at doing just that.

    • Here’s an important distinction: I can’t remember the last time Democrats in office used their position to pass legislation regulating ghosts. The same can’t be said of Republicans, who use local, state, and national government to pass and restrict legislation about global warming.

      Sure, everyone has some views that are probably rationality-challenged. The difference is when one of the two major political parties in the United States makes policy based on those views.

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