In a beautifully written post on Climate Crocks, former skeptic D.R. Tucker illuminates the way that far-right climate change denialism encourages and feeds off of science-phobia. Tucker is clearly far from stupid, but he wonders if stupidity is a required characteristic for climate change denial — not because there's really an IQ requirement, but because denialists glorify ignorance and roll their eyes at complexity. That's appealing to dumb people, surely. But it's also appealing to people who lack for good science education or who think they're dumb at science, and who feel disadvantaged and judged because of it. Climate deniers like Rush Limbaugh make them feel like that's an asset, not a flaw.
It was quite easy for me to buy into Rush Limbaugh’s denigration of science; it was a contempt I already shared. Limbaugh—who often talked of how much he hated school—promoted the idea that scientists didn’t really know what they were talking about, that they were just making up mumbo-jumbo with no relevance to the real world. That’s how I felt. What did my science teachers know, anyway?
Having accepted Limbaugh’s contention that scientists generally didn’t know what they were talking about, I readily bought his argument that climate scientists in particular were clueless. It never even occurred to me that a college dropout like Limbaugh would not be wiser than those who had studied the global climate for years. They studied science; I hated science; Rush hated science too; I agreed with Rush.
There's too much good stuff here to quote it all, but it's well worth a read. Oh okay, one more killer line:
Looking back, I realize that Limbaugh appealed to my scientific ignorance, my inability to understand the complexities of the natural world. One of Limbaugh’s signature lines was, “Making the complex simple!” Of course, his way of making the complex simple was to declare the complex fictional.
Get Grist in your inbox