I’m usually one of the first people to criticize Richard Dawkins when he says something silly, but I really appreciated his remarks on Ben Carson’s support for creationism in a recent interview. When asked about Carson promoting creationism, Dawkins replied:
“This is not something you believe in or not. I mean, this is a fact. It is a fact. It’s just as much of a fact as the Earth goes around the Sun. You can’t not believe it unless you’re ignorant.”
“You just told me all the Republican candidates except one don’t believe in evolution” “I mean, that’s a disgrace. But for a very senior eminent distinguished doctor as he is to say that is even worse. Because of course, evolution is the bedrock of biology and biology is the bedrock of medicine.”
“He clearly doesn’t understand the fundamental theorem of his own subject”
Dawkins makes an important point here. Not “believing” in evolution is depressing by itself, but it’s much worse when someone who studied biology rejects basic biological science. It is great that Dawkins didn’t just call out the ignorance of Carson and the other Republican politicians, but acknowledged that they are likely saying these anti-science things to appeal to their base.
“I believe what they’re doing is they think that they’ve got to say that in order to appeal to their constituency” “And if that’s true, it’s deeply depressing.”
As I’ve noted before, I don’t think Republican politicians are “stupid” as they are cleverly manipulating their base to get elected. Importantly, it may not even be that all Republican politicians are pandering to their base as research has shown that well-educated people will still not “believe” science that conflicts with their social identity (i.e. creationism and climate change). Scientists are looking at how we can disentangle social identity from beliefs so people can correct their biases without threatening how they see themselves. The quicker we figure this out, the better as society cannot afford to continue to let anti-science views not only be tolerated, but celebrated.
Featured image from Wikipedia