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The Mannionville Dailly Gazette Book Club meets tonight at 9:15 Eastern. Please join us right here.
If you can’t be here tonight, feel free to leave a comment ahead of time or later. It’s really kind of an open thread.
We’ll be looking for a way to talk about Idiot America without getting sucked into hopelessness and rage and without spending a lot of time on the Tea Party or Sarah Palin.
How might that be done? By talking about the Texas State School Board, of course.
Here’s author Charles Pierce himself, writing before the cranks down in Texas decided to re-invent history as a conservative fractured fairy tale:
The rise of Idiot America, though, is essentially a war on expertise. It's not so much antimodernism or the distrust of the intellectual elites that Richard Hofstader teased out of the national DNA, although both of these things are part of it. The rise of Idiot America today reflects — for profit, mainly, but also and more cynically, for political advantage and in the pursuit of power — the breakdown of the consensus that the pursuit of knowledge is a good. It also represents the ascendancy of the notion that the people we should trust the least are the people who know the best what they're talking about. In the new media age, everybody is a historian, or a scientist, or a preacher, or a sage. And if everyone is an expert, then nobody is, and the worst thing you can be in a society where everybody is an expert is, well, an actual expert.
This is how Idiot America engages itself. It decides, en masse, with a million keystrokes and clicks of the remote control, that because there are two sides to every question, they both must be right, or at least not wrong. And the words of an obscure biologist carry no more weight on the subject of biology than do the thunderations of some turkeyneck preacher out of Christ's Own Parking Structure in DeLand, Florida. Less weight, in fact, because our scientist is an "expert" and therefore, an "elitist." Nobody buys his books. Nobody puts him on cable. He's brilliant, surely, but no different from the rest of us, poor fool.
And thus a dentist with delusions of grandeur can decide his version of history should be taught to schoolchildren in place of what every professional historian would have them taught.
And here’s PZ Myers’ review at Pharyngula.
Got a Kindle? Want to read Idiot America now? Buy the kindle edition at Amazon.
No Kindle and you don’t mind waiting a few days. Buy the paperback.