August 22, 2008

Whatever Happened to America?

There are days when it's hard to write anything, when I feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of dumbness that flows from my monitor to my brain. It's depressing. Perhaps my vision of the past is seen through rose-colored glasses, but I don't remember things always being this bad in this country.

A man who lacks the intellectual prowess to keep track of how many homes he owns is running for president and at least half the population is ready to vote him into office. Meanwhile, the present administration is doing everything possible in its remaining months to make access to birth control as difficult as possible. Belief in evil spirits is resurgent. A majority of Americans believe that grave illnesses can be prayed away. Outbreaks of easily preventable disease are occurring because people with an irrational fear of vaccines are finding a receptive audience for their message.

The idea that my country could be sliding into an era of superstition and primtivism, one in which the dominant force is belief in supernatural authority rather than reason, is a profoundly depressing one for me. America has always had its share of crackpots, as I imagine any nation does, but their ever-increasing influence on our culture is a frightening thing to behold as it erodes the shores of reason as steadily as an angry sea washes away a sandy beach. These are the people in our national government now. They're making the laws and steering the national dialog. Both of the persons likely to become the next president allow themselves to be called on the carpet for the first time together not by scientists, artists or thinkers, but by a preacher in a forum whose goal is to determine how religious they are.

Dude, where's my country?

I'm going to hole up in my lab today and do science. I may leave for lunch, but that's about it. I don't want to hear anymore for the next 24 hours about how religious Barack Obama is or whether or not John McCain has been "saved." I know, it's a quaint thing these days to actually conduct rational, empirical investigation into some question of how nature operates as opposed to simply whipping out the old ouija board or asking the village shaman or the earth mother or what have you, but I reserve the right to be old-fashioned today. I find much more joy in measuring the segments of a beetle's foot than I possibly can in listening to the various supernaturalists gabbling, particularly when that nattering becomes law or political speech.

Have an ooga-booga day, everybody.

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