December 01, 2008

Corrosion of the Enlightenment: One of Those Depressing Mornings

The Cincinnati Zoo is shilling for the Creation Museum Theme Park.

The Fundamentalist Faction within the US military is teaching soldiers, among other bizarre claims, that evolutionary biology leads to suicide, that Humanism is based on selfishness, and that Charles Darwin was the first leader of the Soviet Union. It's gibbering, drooling, Disenlightenment mental illness, and it's on the taxpayer's bill. The message is being delivered in mandatory indoctrination sessions, no less.

Even the erstwhile ScienceBlogs have been infected with anti-vaccinationist, anti-science nonsense. The source of the sickness in this case is Germany, and the anti-vaccinationist is joined by a second nutcase who insists that the heavy metals found in Ayurvedic woo-juice aren't harmful. This despite a recent investigation that noted numerous cased of lead and mercury poisoning tied to those same compounds.

Hyphal tips to The Austringer, Daily Kos and Respectful Insolence, respectively, for the heads-up on these three sad stories.

There are some mornings when the news from the front in the war against ignorance and disenlightenment are so depressing that I barely feel that it's worth my time to go into the lab. Heck, it's almost not worth my time to get out of bed. It seems that no matter what, the cancer is just going to keep on spreading. Just when things seem to be getting better, just when it looks like some progress is being made, the legions of lesions turn up somewhere else. That the forces of idiocy should find a home in ScienceBlogs, that institutions like the Cincinnati Zoo and the US military should be creating opportunities for the further corrosion of reason in favor of superstition and misinformation, are truly grievous situations.

It seems that not only sound, evidence-based science can be readily overturned by the machinations of mythologists, but even Constitutional law can be ignored with impunity.

On some days, that makes me want to stand up and push back hard. It's one of the reasons I decided to become a dues-paying member of Greater Worcester Humanists. It's one of the reasons that I want to teach sound science and engage in useful and revealing research.

On other days, though, the bad news seems so overwhelming that I just want to hibernate like a bear. It's tempting to get back into bed, leave a wake-up call for the time when knowledge is valued over blindly clinging to the ancient misunderstandings, and pull the covers over my head. It makes me want to have scotch for breakfast.

The latter is not an option, of course. I have primers to design, a report for the state DCR to complete (hopefully by the end of the week), phylogenies to infer. Until shariah is instituted in Massachusetts, I have work to do. Besides, we have 200 proof ethanol in the lab. That's even better than scotch... right?

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