Conservatives Don’t Care About The Facts

Members of the reality based community frequently counter conservative arguments with the facts, but deep down we realize that it will not work. The conservatives don’t care about the facts. They typically start with their ideological position and then try to twist whatever facts they could to attempt to provide a justification. They will either deny evidence that their facts are incorrect, or simply invent new facts to argue with. Mike the Mad Biologist came to this recognition with regards to creationism, but the same argument applies to other differences we have with the right wing’s fantasy world. The full post is well worth reading, but here’s a selection:

I’ve been a biologist–an evolutionary biologist–for some time now. I also lived in Virginia during the cultural apogee of the theological conservatives (the late ’80s and early ’90s). So I’m quite familiar with the evolution-creationist conflict, and have even been a bit player in the whole kerfuffle.

When I started first dealing with creationism, I suffered from what I call the Halberstam fallacy. In his landmark book about Vietnam, The Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam describes how, once he realized the horrible mistake that war was, he would talk to various civilian and military officials. He earnestly believed that if he could just provide them with yet one more piece of evidence, one more story, that these men of intellectual honesty would come around to his opinion. What Halberstam ultimately realized is that these men were not intellectual honest, that they were not interested in rationally assessing the evidence, but instead, had decided that the war was the desired outcome, and that the facts must be altered or ignored to fit the ‘reality’ of the war (if this sounds in any way, shape, or form similar to contemporary events….).

Quite simply, they were not operating from a position of intellectual honesty. Words were as weapons to such men. So too, with the creationists.

It took me a while to realize that the ‘professional creationists’ were not intellectually honest either. I am not referring to those who follow them, or those who are simply not very knowledgable about evolution. I receive emails asking me about evolution and creationism (particularly issues related to microbiology), and, believe it or not, I answer them politely (if not always quickly…).

Everyone can be misinformed, ignorant, or simply have not thought things through correctly. What I will not tolerate is willful ignorance. Creationist leaders and spokesmen are willfully ignorant. How many times do they have to be told what scientists mean by a theory? How many times will they misstate the basics of evolutionary theory, such as claiming that natural selection is a tautology? The list goes on and on. These creationists have heard the evidence-based rebuttals of their false arguments many times.

And these rebuttals did not take. They never take. Creationist speakers continue to repeat these falsehoods even though they have heard the explanations over and over again, to the point where they could probably make the arguments themselves, were they so inclined. And they present themselves as an embattled minority, struggling for the truth. They are quite simply on the wrong side of the evidence, evidence gathered from disparate fields, such as biochemistry, genetics, geology, and physics.

Many of us who spend time blogging or otherwise arguing with the right realize that they will continue to repeat their falsehoods regardless of how much evidence there is contradicting them. That doesn’t mean that presenting the truth is futile. While we will not change the claims of the hard core right wingers and creationists, others may be persuaded by seeing factual rebuttals.

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