We Don’t Need None Of Yer Dumb Facts…

The current version of the GOP seems intent upon retreating to its roots in the the Know-Nothing Party.

In September, a Republican lawmaker from Tennessee made an impassioned plea to get rid of higher education. 

It seems that evil professors and other “elitists” are brainwashing students, presumably by introducing them to “facts” and “science” and other matter likely to wean them from the verities preferred by the lawmaker.

A Tennessee state GOP lawmaker has called for getting rid of the entire higher education system, asserting that such a move would “save America” and cut out “the liberal breeding ground.”

State Sen. Kerry Roberts made the remarks while speaking on his conservative talk radio show last week. He addressed his problems with the higher education system while discussing a recent legislative hearing focused on abortion legislation.

“If there’s one thing that we can do to save America today, it’s to get rid of our institutions of higher education right now and cut the liberal breeding ground off,” he said, before questioning why public colleges were funded by tax dollars.

If you saw this, and dismissed it as a bit of buffoonery representative of a fringe belief, allow me to enlighten you. Anti-intellectualism is the default policy preference of the Trump administration. Science, especially, is perceived as an enemy to be overcome, rather than a source of valuable information.

According to the New York Times,

The Trump administration is preparing to significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking.

A new draft of the Environmental Protection Agency proposal, titled Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study’s conclusions. E.P.A. officials called the plan a step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently.

Andrew Wheeler, the former fossil fuel lobbyist who is currently dismantling the EPA, has a soothing explanation: he says that good science that which can be replicated and independently validated, science that can hold up to scrutiny. Therefore, the new approach is simply an effort to ensure that the agency is using “good science.”

For people who don’t understand scientific research, that sounds eminently reasonable.For people who do understand research, not so much.

The measure would make it more difficult to enact new clean air and water rules because many studies detailing the links between pollution and disease rely on personal health information gathered under confidentiality agreements. And, unlike a version of the proposal that surfaced in early 2018, this one could apply retroactively to public health regulations already in place.

“This means the E.P.A. can justify rolling back rules or failing to update rules based on the best information to protect public health and the environment, which means more dirty air and more premature deaths,” said Paul Billings, senior vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association.

Public health experts warned that studies that have been used for decades — to show, for example, that mercury from power plants impairs brain development, or that lead in paint dust is tied to behavioral disorders in children — might be inadmissible when existing regulations come up for renewal.

For instance, a groundbreaking 1993 Harvard University project that definitively linked polluted air to premature deaths, currently the foundation of the nation’s air-quality laws, could become inadmissible. When gathering data for their research, known as the Six Cities study, scientists signed confidentiality agreements to track the private medical and occupational histories of more than 22,000 people in six cities.

As the Times reports, this is simply the latest in a stream of efforts to deny the negative effects of fossil fuels.

The change is part of a broader administration effort to weaken the scientific underpinnings of policymaking. Senior administration officials have tried to water down the testimony of government scientists, publicly chastised scientists who have dissented from President Trump’s positions and blocked government researchers from traveling to conferences to present their work.

The proposed rule is opposed by virtually every medical and scientific organization. Michael Halpern, deputy director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists describes it as a wholesale politicization of the process.

That politicization requires rejecting “elitism”–defined as reliance on facts, evidence, science, and belief in the value of knowledge.

Welcome to what has become of the Republican Party.

 

23 thoughts on “We Don’t Need None Of Yer Dumb Facts…

  1. Yes, we have to rid ourselves of those evil professors who taught the likes of Jonas Salk (infantile paralysis), Alexander Fleming (penicillin), and other such evil discoverers of compounds which have saved billions of lives and untold suffering. It’s hard to believe that these Know Nothing adherents are not joking in some sort of an SNL parody, but they aren’t. They really exist, and the fading Republican Party is using such abject ignorance to political advantage. What to do? What we’re doing – pounding away at truth telling day and night seven days a week.

  2. Copied and pasted from a Yahoo News item; William Cosovoy is one of Trump’s countless personal lawyers:
    “According to Cosovoy’s Kafkaesque syllogism, Congress is barred from investigating the president because that is a proper function of law enforcement, not Congress, and in turn, law enforcement may not investigate President Trump because he is immune from prosecution.

    Confused? That’s the point.”

    It appears with the above “legal” assessment the Republican party not only wants to limit scientific and medical research but higher education regarding the law. Do current law schools provide a required study of “buffoonery” to attain a law degree? This could easily and briefly be explained to law students using W.C. Fields’ quote: “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” This same technique can easily be applied to scientific and medical research as Republicans view it; once known as “The Flat Earth Society”. Evidence of rejecting facts and evidence was obvious during the Wednesday and Friday Ukraine hearings with the repeated interruptive tactics by Republican Representatives Jordan and Stefanik, dealt with tactfully by Chairman Adam Schiff.

    “That politicization requires rejecting “elitism”–defined as reliance on facts, evidence, science, and belief in the value of knowledge.”

  3. Gerald is correct on all counts. In George Lakoff’s great and insightful book, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, he spends significant time describing how the Republican agenda is centered around sheep-like obedience to the party and that God has ordained this. In Tennessee, a hot-bed (actually ice cold illogic) of evangelically driven nonsense, the “elected” official is basically parroting what he hears in church and has fostered among his constituents.

    These creatures of ignorance have never heard of Thomas Jefferson. They don’t know anything about Thomas Mann. But they will revere Albert Einstein, perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, for his work toward building the atomic bomb.

    As a retired science educator, ravings from lunatics like Kerry Roberts are an insult to humanity and the several millions of years of evolution that brought us to the place where we can actually make more lives better than making them worse. But no…. With Republicans like this, it’s party before people, party before country. Disgusting.

  4. How about we require complete transparency for all members of Congress? Require that they release to the public all personal physical and mental health records, all income and tax filing records, prior and current religious affiliations, all records of legal disputes or laws broken and complete records of their education? Did I leave anything out? Oh, yes I did – all records of political donations to their campaigns, including dollar amounts matched with the names of donors. No more dark money.

    This thorough information release would be required before running for any Congressional office and must also be released by all current members. The entire idea of this legislation is to meet the Republicans’ demand for complete transparency. Realizing the great benefits of this legislation the Republicans in Congress will most likely be scrambling to be the first one to author a Bill, all the while wondering why they never thought of this before.

  5. Mad as a hatter: Mercury was used to ‘block’ hats – the cause and effect was known in the 1800s.
    My father was told in the 1930s that he was suffering from lead poisoning and should find another occupation(was a house painter). Lead was known to be toxic 90+ years ago.

    Now to religion: Religious lessons from a Monk-1949. Held up the Holy Bible while announcing, “This is a book of Theology and Faith. It is not a book of science or history.”
    Somehow or other a Holy Man born in the 19th Century recognized the purpose of Christianity more than some modern day so-called religious followers.

  6. From Wikipedia “The sewer socialists fought to clean up what they saw as “the dirty and polluted legacy of the Industrial Revolution”,[3] cleaning up neighborhoods and factories with new sanitation systems, city-owned water and power systems and improved education. ” Obviously the Republicans want us to go back to using outhouses also and I oppose this because I have spent the 28 1/2 years teaching at that liberal breeding ground called the University of Indianapolis.

  7. “We don’t need none of your dumb facts”–until we need astute medical advice and treatment and can’t get it because we wiped out the undergraduate and medical schools that produce doctors and surgeons. Then let’s see what our mantra will be?!

  8. The Reactionary Republican Party attacks Science, since Science demands critical thinking, plus Scientific Proof. The Liberal Arts also teach critical thinking in particular philosophy. Philosophers through the ages have asked: How is it we are here?? Why are we here? Where do we go??

    The Evangelical Bible Thumper’s cannot countenance questions, or critical thinking. This anti-science or willful ignorance insures that among the “Flock” there will be no dissent, topping it off is a Male Authoritarian Leader.

    The Bronze Age Mythology of the bible has numerous contradictions that must be ignored. Bits and pieces can be used to maintain order in the flock. If events become to logically impossible – Well there is always the Supernatural to the rescue. I suppose this maybe one reason the Bible Thumper’s can ignore President Agent Orange’s and Pastor Pence’s numerous lies and contradictions, the bible they base their lives on is packed with deceit.

  9. When half of a country’s political landscape is intellectually, morally, and many times ethically bankrupt, said country is in serious trouble.

  10. Thinking back on my college education, I cannot remember a single incident where I might have been fed liberal propaganda. I attended evening classes with hard working students that wanted to make something better of themselves.

    I do remember learning critical thinking skills and being taught to research and verify information before I took it for fact. Some of the most surprising things I learned were about history and how hit or miss and white-washed my high school history lessons were.

    I don’t think higher education turns out liberal thinkers. I believe that higher education turns out people that can think and reason for themselves.

    I am sure Sen. Kerry Roberts is well educated, but he has turned that skill and experience to manipulating other people to meet his own ends. He has realized ignorant people are easier to manipulate.

  11. “Liberals’ are those who accept the current state of the world including all of the population, diversity, benefits and shortcomings, abilities and disabilities of the people who are part of our species. However we believe that each of us has a unique role to play based on what we have managed to accomplish over our lives,

    “Authoritarians” under the watchful eye of Putin and the Kremlin propose that we should deny all of that as it’s not in their best interests to accept it, wall the country off to people but not resources from around the world, as well as pretend that current knowledge can be forgotten and culture that was adapted to different times can be restored all so they can gather up power for themselves at the expense of others. Given enough power they can create a new world order that still entitles them supported by their common entitlement to define reality.

    The former is possible and necessary, the latter, neither.

    Reality vs dreams of power.

  12. To me one thing interesting about the current global business dynamics is that the goals of American liberals and China are merging as are the business goals of authoritarians and Putin.

    We have been rendered by the current administration to a role as pawns in the struggle for economic dominance between the global trade aspirations of Asia and the oligarchs of Russia.

  13. Perhaps what is going on is resolution of racial tensions by emphasizing skin color diversity that is the human race vs the Caucasian heritage that some Americans (Republicans) share with Russians.

  14. It’s almost as if these folks are stuck in a wormhole where Greek philosophy was mistaken for, and or used as science, religion, and influence.

    The Catholic belief that intimacy was just for procreation, came from the Greek philosophy of Stoicism. Not just this, but many other philosophical houses have had their imprint on religion.

    If you really study Scripture, it is not against science. In Proverbs 4:5-8, reads; “acquire wisdom, acquire understanding. Do not forget, and do not turn aside from what I say. Do not forsake it, and it will protect you. Love it, and it will safeguard you. Wisdom is the most important thing, so acquire wisdom, and with all you acquire, acquire understanding.”

    Sounds like King Solomon was on to something there!

    King Solomon also stated in Proverbs 15:14,; “the understanding heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of the stupid feeds on foolishness.”

    Church hierarchy had backed Aristotle’s theory that the Earth was the center of the universe. The Catholic priest Clavius disputed Galileo’s proof that the moon had mountains by saying that, the moon was encased in crystal and if you look through the crystal, you can see a perfectly round ball. Galileo was an admirer of Copernicus and was fascinated by his research. He agreed with it. The church used Copernicus views for setting holiday dates, but refused to adopt them officially.

    So those who consider themselves highly religious, or religiously informed, are the ones living in the age BEFORE enlightenment. They also ignore scriptural evidence that contradicts their own desired beliefs!

    They still put their faith ancient philosophies that were not rooted science. Sophism, Cynicism, Pluralism, Epicureanism, skepticism, Aristotelianisum, and Platonisum. You can recognize the influence Aristotle and Plato had on science and religion. The early church borrowed heavily from them. All the while ignoring Scripture and science. So, the hypocrisy runs deep, to try to point this out to those fervent followers of THOSE that spew ignorance, IS a fools errand.

    They seem bent on running through the forest with a can of gasoline and a box of matches!

  15. believe it, alot of people may have been through ,”higher ed” and never had a moments thought of it being significant. and they practice everyday,what they have learned(little).. i witness this everyday,with many who have that southern drawl.. so tenn,is the only earmark here? somewhere schools are not teaching the basics of civics,and structure in the American democracy. the epa is taking a branch from the suit tree.. sue em til they drop,or find a court that limits the amount to be paid out..like pharma,and the never ending commercials to suit someone because the FDA isnt requiring a 7 year study anymore. but the profits are so huge,that billion dollar settlemets (total limited amount) are the norm,rather than a resposability to the user,before its marketed…kinda like selling glycol based toothpaste..(i beleive the court had him hanged,in china) republicans only see money trails,and money movements. your health,education and welfare are not in their index of things to do, only remove…

  16. If we are going to compete in this world we’re in today, there is no possible way we can do it with lowering expectations and dumbing down everything. Children are going to suffer and families’ hearts are going to be broken that their kids won’t be able to get a job in the 21st Century.

    Jeb Bush

  17. Thank you Sheila, as always,

    It’s funny that you mentioned in your piece the “No Nothing Party” that was created in Indiana prior to the Civil War since, as a former staff member of the Indiana State Archives, I remember seeing documentation that we had on file in regard to it and read that information when I was and undergrad sophomore political science student at IUPUI now 40 years ago. I actually wrote a paper on it based on that information as well as other info from other sources for school. Fortunately for me, I’ve learned a great deal more since then on how our government is supposed to work and why. Right now, it seems to be in the bane of my existence since I’ve read way too much, written way too much, and engaged in too many round tables and climbs, such as this one, for my own good apparently.

    I liken what is happening now to a much overused analogy that I’ve made over the years regarding things both in government, our country’s social progress, or the lack thereof, and just daily life these days that still seems most unfortunately appropriate. It’s as if I am riding on a bus seated behind the bus driver and he or she has already left the road headed for a cliff and I’m very politely standing up and telling them “excuse me sir, or madam, but we’re headed over a cliff” while the other passengers on the bus are yelling at me to shut up and sit down.
    Watching AM Joy on MSNBC as I normally do I listened this morning to several regular commentators, including Joy Reid herself, talk about the difference between how the news is portrayed on MSNBC and other networks and the vast difference between what is conveyed by them which matches what I also read in major daily newspapers them across the country and what is pushed by Fox News. The case in point was the testimony of the various witnesses that appeared before the House Intel Committee this last week. I don’t watch Fox News because I’d like to try to preserve what’s left of my brain and my sense of the equilibrium in regard to critical thinking. What I saw a clip of this morning, which included the grand master of complete stupidity and propaganda, Sean Hannity, maybe me almost nauseous and wish that I could give him a big round house punch to is stupid looking face that contains this stupid uninformed brain. I am not, by nature, a violent person but someone at some point needs to do at this to this complete bozo.

    I know people who happen to be friends of mine that recite word for word what this highly paid fool says as well as that said by the other fools that also get paid big bucks by Rupert Murdoch to spread completely erroneous information that borders on being Russian governmental talking points each and every day and they just eat it up. If we are going to have any chance and all of changing the current trajectory of this country politically and socially fox news has to be exposed as the propaganda arm that it is. The fact that they push what amounts to Russian talking points every day and that people that would normally be mad as hell about them doing such a thing are actually listening to it and reciting it word for word without any knowledge or thinking about the efficacy of what they hear from Mr. Hannity and his colleagues is like something out of a latter day Rod Serling screenplay for a “Twilight Zone” episode also straight out of hell.

    Who needs to watch movies or read political-based fiction in order to get really scared when we have this crud and every day in our face and undermining everything that this country is supposed to stand for and even more importantly our national security policy, of all things, in the face of continual Russian attempts to undermine our political system and those of our Allies around the world and that we have a “President” who actually supports those efforts through his actions. End of rant.

  18. In addition to the general outrage about science and the abuse thereof, this would be a clear HIPPA violation. Which regulation should the scientists follow, the ridiculous EPA reg, or the HIPPA reg? Violation of HIPPA might get them sued by those whose information is released.

  19. Absolutely Peggy, it is a HIPAA violation. So I’m sure they will have documents that would allow them to have you sign away your right to privacy. This is just another hypocrisy throwing out there by this administration. When Donald Trump got nailed for intimidating the former ambassador to the Ukraine during her testimony. Trump’s threat, Via Twitter, he claimed he was just exercising his free speech. Of course Colin Kaepernick could not exercise his free speech and was basically blackballed out of the NFL because of Trump and his tweet storms.

    Didn’t Trump say that he preferred dumb people? Well, that sums it all up I guess.

  20. Higher education is a phrase with no major. You walk into an Attorney’s office and ask for help where you are. I want to have Science Abusers arrested. What MAJOR is that?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqomZQMZQCQ

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