Q&A: SUSAN JACOBY, Author
SUSAN JACOBY – “THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON”
American 15-year-olds rank 24th out of 29 countries in mathematical literacy.
Americans are as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution. Depending on how the questions are asked, roughly 30-…
SUSAN JACOBY – "THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON" American 15-year-olds rank 24th out of 29 countries in mathematical literacy. Americans are as likely to believe in flying saucers as in evolution. Depending on how the questions are asked, roughly 30-40 % of Americans believe in each. A 34-nation study found Americans less likely to believe in evolution than citizens of any of the countries polled except Turkey, and President George Bush says “the jury is still out.” in the summer of 2005 nearly two-thirds of Americans told pollsters that they believed creationism should be taught in schools alongside Darwinian evolution. Steve Colbert interviewed Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland on "The Colbert Report." Westmoreland co-sponsored a bill that would require the display of the Ten Commandments in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but, when asked, couldn't actually list the commandments. This stuff would be funny if it weren’t so tragic or dangerous. According to the Program on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, among Bush supporters in the 2004 election, nearly 70% believed the U.S. had "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda, a third believed weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, and more than a third that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion. We can assume they were similarly uninformed about who benefits from Bush tax cuts, and the success or meaning of No Child Left Behind, Clear Skies, Healthy Forests, the Medicare prescription benefit, etc.? I believe there has been a concerted effort on the part of political and cultural advocates to encourage misinformation and the ignoring of evidence. In addition, their labeling of “intelligent” and “informed” as “elite” and “effete” implies that ignorance is somehow both valuable and under attack. I also believe that to ignore evidence – scientific as well as simply factual -- is primitive, pathological, suicidal, and an unfit way to run the world. Susan Jacoby has written a book about this -- THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON. A former reporter for the Washington Post and program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, Susan Jacoby, is the author of five books, including WILD JUSTICE, a Pulitzer Prize finalist. and FREETHINKERS: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN SECULARISM. Her political blog, The Secularist’s Corner is on the Web site of The Washington Post. http://www.susanjacoby.com