There's a character on "The Big Bang Theory" named Zack. He's a big, lovable, not-very-bright oaf whom Penny dated during one of the off-again periods of her on-again/off-again romance with main character (and mega-nerd) Leonard. One time, Leonard and his fellow scientists were up on the roof of their apartment building, attempting to bounce a laser beam off a reflector that had been left on the moon by some Apollo astronauts. Zack and Penny were invited to join in the festivities (such as they were) and, at one point during the evening, Zack said, "That's what I love about science; there's no one right answer."
Zack represents the core constituency of the Mike Huckabee for President campaign, although I'm certain that the Zack faction would also be coveted by Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and several others in the race for the GOP nod.
You might remember, when Huckabee ran before, Bill Maher asked the former Arkansas governor if he truly believed that the Earth is only 6,000 years old. Recognizing a trap question, Huckabee hemmed and hawed and finally said, "No one knows for sure how old the Earth is."
Actually, governor (and Zack), there is just one right answer to that question and it damn sure isn't 6,000 years.
Here's a really scary thing: According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 40 percent of all Americans surveyed believe that the Earth is between 6,000 and 10,000 years old. Now, at first, one might think that that's just one of those fake things that goes around the Internet so many times that it becomes accepted as fact. But it's on the Gallup website.
Then, you think that maybe the Gallup people got lazy and only polled people in an area that stretched from southeast Mississippi to southwest Mississippi. But that turns out not to be the case, either. And these respondents didn't attend Jihadi Middle School in some remote village outside of Islamabad. They're Americans who grew up with freedom and Netflix and textbooks and Bill Nye, The Science Guy.
The stuff about the age of the Earth often can be traced to religion, so it's sorta forgivable. What isn't forgivable is the mindset that pervades the right wing in America today. Noted writer Isaac Asimov said it best with: "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'"
I was once working at a summer camp with one of the better-known local basketball coaches (no, it's not Sean Miller). I told the guy that I had read an alarming statistic that stated that 50 percent of all American adults would never read a book after their formal education came to an end. The guy chuckled and said, "Ha! Make that 51 percent."
So, not only would he not read a book, he also had no real concept of math, either.
That's an example of lazy ignorance. What's really troubling is the willful ignorance that Republican politicians are employing to connect with (and sometimes lead) their core constituencies. Preaching to the choir is a political tradition that dates back centuries. But what many in the Republican Party are doing these days goes well beyond all that. They believe that it's better to live in the dark rather than to face the harsh realities of the light. Seriously, why would anybody want to be a part of the Anti-Science Party?
Ted Cruz (which is Spanish for Joe McCarthy) is probably the worst because he doesn't even try to fall back on religion. His backers are always talking about how smart he is and his party made him chairman of the Senate Subcommittee of Space, Science, and Competitiveness. This, despite his claim that he looked at satellite data and concluded that there has been "no warming whatsoever" for the past 17 years. Real scientists looked at the same data and reported that nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.
In response, Cruz said, "Today, the global-warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers. It used to be accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier."
This is a double knee-slapper. First of all, Cruz is only a lawyer. Comparing himself to one of the great minds of all time is laughable. Also, there have probably been fewer than 100,000 physicists in the entire history of the world while there are 1.2 million lawyers in the United States today!
More importantly, Galileo had nothing to do with flat-Earthers. His beef was with people who thought that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Galileo argued the (correct) heliocentric model while the Catholic Church (and others) clung to the ridiculous Ptolemaic geocentric model. He wasn't called a denier; he was called a heretic, which is different and much worse.
Cruz draws raves from the anti-science crows when he attempts to paint himself as taking a heroic stand by defending the truth against a powerful and sinister enemy. Those of us with triple-digit IQs know better.
Benjamin Franklin said, "We are all born ignorant, but we must work hard to remain stupid." On that point, at least, Democrats are being seriously outworked by their Republican counterparts.