Friday, November 23, 2012

Krugman, Rubio And The Age Of The Earth

Paul Krugman points out that Marco Rubio's evasiveness when asked how old the Earth is is more than just a gesture to appeal to religious fundamentalists in the GOP's base: it is a direct, full-fledged abnegation of science in pursuit of the truth... and an indirect rejection of the economic prosperity that can only be based on Americans' widespread knowledge of the sciences. Krugman is right; indeed, he could scarcely be more right. Conservative biblio-babble notwithstanding, in these days, without science, the American economy... any human economy... is nothing.

The Earth? It is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years old. Some Bible-bangers... Rubio, perhaps? will tell you figures in the vicinity of 6000 to 7500 years; others give longer spans from 12000 to 20000 years. A mere 6000 years? I had a great‑grandmother who was older than that... [/snark]

The point is this: science is not necessarily always right, but it is always rooted in physical reality as best researchers can determine that reality. Religion may occasionally be factually right, but it is always mythology, with no obligation to factual accuracy. As mythology, it may have some moral instructive value (or not); but as myth rather than fact, it is a poor basis for formulating public policy... let alone teaching science.


  1. To think that America will continue exist as any kind of empire based on stunning ignorance is according to Marl Twain: "In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing."

    1. karmanot, the thing that gets to me is that, in science, my beliefs and convictions (to the extent those words apply) are also secondhand. But I got them from someone who spent some time in a lab, or at a telescope or microscope, or at a dry-erase board, or involved with the nightmarish setups necessary to preserve quantum entanglements through "gates" of a sort suitable for quantum computing to come to the conclusion that 15 has factors 3 and 5... with the computation taking place literally across multiple universes. I'll take those "alien" colleagues I'll never meet any day, over the hardshell preachers who want to "share the good news" with me.

      I'm hurting quite a bit today, and I've covered it up with alcohol at the moment. Sometimes you've got to take the comfort available to you, and I don't begrudge the fundies their religious comfort, as long as they don't insist on sharing it with me.

    2. When I'm in pain I prefer chaos theory, because it affords the possibility of a non-sustaining continimum. However, Scots/Irish genetics predisposes me toward begrudging fundies religious comfort anywhere at anytime, because (ironically) the chaotic nature of a wrathful sky god, always pisses me off--- a theorem with a constant outcome. :)

    3. Can't spell for s**t today----must be the Percoset.

    4. "... must be the Percoset."

      I've never been on Percoset, but I know the phenomenon from other times on other meds. When I was a kid, I was literally the highest-placing Houstonian in the county spelling bee. How things do change with time and age!

      I begrudge the fundies nothing, none of their comforts, as long as they keep their hands off me and my kin. Some people take a gentle "no" for an answer to their proselytizing; I do just fine with such folks. Others... well, you know.

  2. Fundamentalists talk abut seven days. Clearly Republicans would deny even God his day off!

    1. LOL, jams! No free lunch, even if you're the One who grew the wheat!



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