Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Chalk up another topic beset by political polarization: Evolution

From the Los Angeles Times courtesy of a facebook friend:

In 2009, a majority of Democrats and Republicans took the evolution side of the argument, with 64% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans agreeing. In the latest survey, Democratic belief in evolution was about the same, 67%, but Republican support had fallen to 43%. A 10-point gap between supporters of the two parties had grown to a 24-point gulf.

What’s most striking is that the growing partisan gap seems to reflect politics, itself, rather than other factors. While Republican ranks include a high percentage of evangelical Christians and Democrats attract many secular voters, those religious differences didn’t explain the gap between the two parties. Even when Pew researchers factored out race, ethnicity and a person’s level of religious commitment, partisan differences on evolution remained, they found.

More here.

Yet more evidence that American conservatism has now devolved into tribalism.  That is, if religious attitudes cannot be blamed for such a stark difference in acceptance of evolution, then it MUST be partisan, which, of course, makes absolutely no sense at all.  

The science has nothing to do with political ideology.  It's either real, or it isn't; politics don't come into play.  But that's what we have here with American conservatives.  Reality itself is up for grabs, and choosing the correct reality has become a litmus test for inclusion in their tribe.  A big huge chunk, a majority maybe, of people who self-identify as conservative are simply not rational.  Instead, they're making decisions about how the world works based on deep emotion and identity.  So deep, in fact, that they have, in their minds, separated themselves from the rest of the nation, seeing their tribe as unique and special, the only "real" Americans in America.

In short, if you want to hang with the right wing, it would behoove you to embrace evolution denial, which will open doors, put you on the fast track to success within the tribe, and mark you for sure as one of them.  I would say this is ironic, given the right's longstanding grievance against "identity politics," but conservatives don't do irony, so I'd be wasting my breath.