Categories
Humor Politics

Willful ignorance as a campaign platform

It’s depressing to think that after today people like this may well be running the House:

This year, willful ignorance is a campaign platform.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

41 replies on “Willful ignorance as a campaign platform”

Willful ignorance is now considered a virtue in this country, I’m afraid. The success of “Jersey Shore” was the final proof of that for me.

I always find it amazing that so many people can be convinced, on the dime of major corporate campaign donors – including the energy, insurance, and financial industries, to vote against their own self interest.

greatbear, I admit I am ignorant of “Jersey Shore.” I have no idea what it is, other than the coast of Jersey or New Jersey.

Interestingly, this is the first election where I’ve found endorsements really useful. There are multiple races where I’ve been able to say, “Ah, this fellow is endorsed by Sarah Palin. Guess I’m voting for the other guy…”

Scott,
I’m in complete agreement. I feel slightly warm and fuzzy hen the newspaper endorses a candidate but a Palin endorsement throws everything else in the trash. If Palin loves ya, you must have tapioca for brains. End of story.

Yep. Sad but true. These folks will believe some of the most gothic political fiction I’ve ever seen. But factual information?? Nah, facts are for sissies.

You mean that the willfully ignorant aren’t in charge of the house already? They certainly seem to be ignorant when it comes to understanding the long term effects of the crap they’ve been force feeding us for the past few years.

(the other) Chris posted:

greatbear, I admit I am ignorant of “Jersey Shore.” I have no idea what it is, other than the coast of Jersey or New Jersey.

As far as reality TV is concerned, ignorance is bliss; because I don’t have cable, I had no idea what The Hills was about despite the fact that it was hyped ad nauseum by people who should make every effort possible to get a real life.

Reality TV? Eww! I assume that is the same for The Hills, which I have also never heard of. Thank you for the warning.

Though I did catch the new Sherlock online. Which I enjoyed, but I have been a Holmes fan since 7th grade.

As a side note, using willful ignorance as a selling point seems to be Jay Gordon’s M.O., as well.

@Chris,

I too like the new Sherlock series on TV. It’s an interesting rewrite at least loosely based on some of the classic stories with a pretty good job of resetting them in modern London.

On the election, it seems a few key races are going to come down to the final precincts. I guess we’ll find out in the morning how things will shape up for next year.

It would be nice to see some people from both sides of the aisle supporting reason, practicality and the need to solve some real problems. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit very well into a 30 second commercial or an evening news sound bite. It’s much easier just to appeal to the extremes on both sides.

Certainly could have been worse – at least the worst of the worst still lost (and I’m keeping my fingers’ crossed that Miller is beaten in Alaska too).

Americans made a clear choice; they will be ruled by big business rather than by big government. Good luck guys, you are going to need it!

I admit I am ignorant of “Jersey Shore.”

I think it has something to do with dairy cows on the beach.

It would be nice to see some people from both sides of the aisle supporting reason, practicality and the need to solve some real problems. Unfortunately, that doesn’t fit very well into a 30 second commercial or an evening news sound bite. It’s much easier just to appeal to the extremes on both sides.

Gerrymandering is also key here. When the result of the general election in a district is a forgone conclusion, only the primary matters. And since so many primaries are closed, this very much favors the extremists – on both sides.

My personal wishlist of top political reforms would be:

1. An end to gerrymandering. District lines should be drawn based on rational geography, by commissions as impartial as may be found.

2. Reorder presidential primaries. Instead of letting Iowa and New Hampshire have such disproportionate power (the prevalence of corn-based ethanol and HFCS being two glaring examples of the distortions this causes), 5 states (chosen randomly each cycle) should hold early primaries on a single day, and the other 45 all have their primaries about a month later on another single day.

3. Adjust the electoral college to the model in Maine and Nebraska for all states.

4. A three-party system, broadly liberal-moderate-conservative. This one might actually happen if the Tea Partiers manage to split the Republicans.

Speaking of willful ignorance, political analyst Mike Adams weighs in on the election** ( NaturalNews; today): he discusses “health freedom” as a value among the Tea Partiers, the “Far Left”, and libertarians _and_ Rand Paul ( but not his hair).

**While I *am* drinking my usual tea, I’m happy to announce that the Tea Party didn’t have much effect on NJ congressional races( from nj.com); I have two liberal dem senators and a very liberal dem congressman, however, my very blue county ( even has “blue laws”/ didn’t vote for Chris Christie) appears to have elected GOP county officials.

Willful ignorance is nothing new in American politics – it is a logstanding part of American culture to distrust people with “booklarnin'”

@Scott #21: You don’t get three parties in a first-past-the-post system. You get two parties and, at best, some spoilers. That’s how the dynamics of a FPTP system works. For that matter, the same dynamic is present in a presidential proportional representation system. To get three or more viable parties you have to go full parliamentary PR.

– Jake

Britain uses FPTP and has three parties; while the Lib Dems admittedly aren’t as big they’re far more than a spoiler.

Presidential elections would be more problematic than congressional, certainly, but two big parties in Congress which are the contenders for president, plus a smaller one with significant congressional clout but no real shot at the presidency, would be feasible.

The way it has always worked in the past (US History) is two political parties & when one falters, you see the slow birth of a third party, which eventually either absorbs the weaker of the two parties or the weaker party just disappears (anyone remember the Whigs?).

Since our current two parties have so much money and control of things, they’d easily co-opt any viable third party long before it really became a threat (the Tea Party movement is just the fringe elements of the Republican Party).

Somewhat related — this is from a medical writing listserve:

Various people on Twitter reported seeing this sign at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear:
What do we want?
EVIDENCE-BASED CHANGE!
When do we want it?
AFTER PEER REVIEW!

@Scott #27: The current cabinet is the first time the LibDems have been in a government since Labour displaced them as the Tories’ main opponents. (And given the policies of the current government, it will likely be the last time the LibDems are in a government ever, but that’s an aside.)

I’ll leave it to the reader to judge whether that qualifies as a viable party.

– Jake

Speaking of Christine O’Donnell: she announced last night that she won the election even though she lost big time.
She then went on to present her list of demands to Chris Coons, the victor. She’s not a witch, she’s ME. but what if I’m a witch?

“I always find it amazing that so many people can be convinced, on the dime of major corporate campaign donors – including the energy, insurance, and financial industries, to vote against their own self interest.”

The key here is the assumption that they are voting “against their self interest”. You sound just like the Marxists, always claiming that people did not support them against their own interest because of “false consciousness” (basically the same thing).

Get a grip. The people you are railing against aren’t voting against their self-interest. They merely have different values from yours.

As it happens, I think they are wrong, for the most part.

But I do give them the decency to assume that they aren’t doing it because “of the dime of major corporate campaign donors”. As if the Left doesn’t have major donors, or financial interests. How much money did Obama raise?

As long as the left in the US assumes it is not just correct, but the only moral position, it is no better than the tea party.

Amusingly, many of the woo-meisters regularly railed against on this blog – true friends of ignorance – are Democrats. Arianna Huffington springs to mind. Maher’s position is erratic, like the man, but not Republican.

I read that Obama might be willing to repeal some of the health care reforms in exchange for Republican cooperation. What do you guys think about this? I think it would be a tragedy…

@Mark – there are plenty of cases where people, one both sides (and throwing around the “Marxist” card isn’t helpful in today’s political discussions) vote for candidates or support positions that aren’t in line with their own personal situation.

For example, if you support candidates that want to repeal the entire health care reform bill, but have a child with a pre-existing condition – you’re voting against your self-interest.

The exposure to the 24hr news cycle & the ease in which people can be overwhelmed with information (and opinions about what they should or should not be concerned about) has definitely skewed the political dialogue in this country.

I don’t happen to think that either side is doing the right thing & would be more than happy to finally see the rise of a “Common Sense” political party – but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

Most Americans seem to be very happy with “instant” gratification & knee-jerk reactions to real problems in this country (or overreactions to trival or made-up problems). There will come a time when our chickens will come home to roost & I only have that we have the fortitude to actually handle them.

And for the record, I’m a fiscally conservative, moderate on social issues guy – and neither party speaks for me.

Willful ignorance, like Bill Maher’s? Or at a higher job description, like that displayed by President Obama, in his examples of the pediatrician who would take out a child’s tonsils when the child really just needed an allergy pill, or the surgeon who would prefer to be paid $50,000 to amputate a diabetic patient’s foot?

With all due respect, neither party has a stellar record with it comes to adhering to science. For example, Paul Offit pointed out in his book that anti-vaccine lunacy in Congress is truly bipartisan. For every “Dan Burton” there’s the likes of RFK Jr. and Joe Lieberman.

Also remember which party has a symbiotic relationship with trial lawyers, if you want to take about the importance of scientific truth.

Mark P: I like your point about not assuming exclusive moral righteousness, but my interest here isn’t your politics. I’m guessing that you would consider yourself a skeptic, in the formal sense of the word. If so, I’m surprised you’d reject the notion of large numbers of people acting against their interests based on misunderstandings and false models of reality.

Republicans/conservatives are the most gullable people in the world. They belive in God/Jesus and deny sicence. They just let Limbogh and Glenn Beck tell them everything to think. All “conservative” media should be SHUT DOWN right now! The First Amendent doesn’t allow you to shout fire in a crowded room, and it shouldn’t let you spread willful ignorence and stupitidiy to ignorent Americans.

Democrats/liberals are the most gullable people in the world. They belive in New Age woo and deny sicence. They just let Obama and Ariana Huffington tell them everything to think. All “liberal” media should be SHUT DOWN right now! The First Amendent doesn’t allow you to shout fire in a crowded room, and it shouldn’t let you spread willful ignorence and stupitidiy to ignorent Americans.

See, I can do it too. Neither side has a monopoly on the lack of insight or critical thinking. The extremists on BOTH sides are fracking idiots.

Thank you, Scott.

Not that I take Frank seriously, and don’t misunderstand my gratitude: I’m more or less a pinko socialistic-liberal, and I reject vapid claims of equivalence (“they’re both just as bad!”) made in an effort to claim the moderate high ground and/or to make friends stop fighting. But your point is spot-on.

Scott, I agree with you. However, when alleged skeptics one-sidedly ignore that what’s also depressing is the ignorant platforms folks who HAVE been controlling the House and Senate for almost a decade continue to run on, we’re talking 296.33.

Comments are closed.