Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Facts Are Just an Opinion

I was drawn to the Pew Research Center's website because of their recent survey on public perception of science, but I stuck around to look at some of their other data and, as readers of science and freethinker blogs already know, conservative xians and political conservatives are, on average, less educated, less knowledgeable about science and less trusting of science data. Although I don't have hard data to back this up, it's been my observation that conservatives are also much more inclined toward information bias.

I base this last observation on the proliferation and avid following of right wing TV and radio programs and the greater inclination of conservatives to censor and suppress opposing views in comparison to liberals. This combination of ignorance and information bias makes them the ideal targets for propagandists who want to obscure the facts.

If Rush Limbo says that global warming is a liberal conspiracy to destroy America, then decades of observation and testing become irrelevant and if the pastor says the world is 6000 years old, well you know. What I'd like to know is why is this legal?

We have libel and slander laws to protect individuals from having lies told about them, but if corporations and "think" tanks spend millions of dollars to spread lies that injure scientists, teachers, learning institutions and museums, that's just a difference of opinion and it's protected by our free speech rights.

I suspect that ignorant, fundy politicians and politicians worried about losing fundy votes have a lot to do with this difference in legal protection, but I can't help wondering what would happen if university presidents and museum directors started bringing lawsuits against groups like the Despicable Institute claiming that the plaintiffs' reputation and business were damaged by anti-science propaganda. In a perfect world it would bankrupt the lying scum.

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