So I’ve had a couple of new comments on my evolution blog of last week (both on Xanga and WordPress), so I’ve been revisiting that thread (both here and there), and unfortunately I am no closer to understanding why so many people think evolution is THE litmus test for whether or not you are a reasonable person in general.  It is a premise that I find curious, but I suppose it is because I’ve never lived in the Bible Belt and been surrounded by religious righty kooks.  (The closest I’ve come is southern Virginia, which is pretty religious, but doesn’t really count.)  I live in the Pacific Northwest, where I’m surrounded by lefty secular kooks, and I can tell you, mes amis, that these cats don’t understand science any better than Sarah Palin’s pastor, or whoever the bogeyman is these days.

You don’t have to be religious to mistrust any scientific theory (or fact!) that collides with your personal worldview.  And I don’t buy that not buying into evolution makes you less likely to buy into other science-related stuff, like vaccines.  I know religious people who don’t believe in evolution or vaccines; I know religious people who don’t believe in evolution but think vaccines are extremely important; I know religious people who believe in evolution but don’t believe in vaccines.  I also know non-religious people who don’t believe in vaccines, but it’s never occurred to me to ask if they have problems with evolution–because if you don’t believe in God, why would you?–but that’s neither here nor there.

The fact is that evolution is a generally accepted scientific theory–I mean, so accepted that it’s considered a virtual fact in the scientific community–but it doesn’t really have any bearing on anyone’s life unless they want it to.  So not “believing” in it doesn’t really make you less likely to believe in other stuff that the scientific community pretty much agrees on.  I know plenty of people who claim not to believe in evolution; I don’t know anyone who doesn’t believe we went to the moon or that we can’t really take pictures of Mars.  And granted, I don’t live in the Bible Belt, so I can’t possibly understand what those lunatics are really like, but I think the fact that I know so many non-Bible Belt people who don’t give a flying fig about evolution but are perfectly reasonable about other scientific matters supports my theory that correlation is not necessarily causation.

I mean, for me the litmus test of someone’s intellectual seriousness is how they feel about math.  You may not realize this, but there are a ton of people out there who don’t like math–otherwise well-educated and even non-religious people who actually hate math and, further, don’t believe there is any point in studying anything more complicated that arithmetic unless you’re planning to be a rocket scientist or something.  These are the kind of people who say, “I have never had to use algebra in my entire life!”  I tell you, it is frightening, these people’s attitudes toward math.  If they hate algebra so much and think it is so useless, they might think it shouldn’t be required in school.  They probably want to outsource all our rocket science to India, where people can actually do math.  This is leaving aside the very real possibility that if they don’t understand calculus, the probably can’t understand the complexities of our economy.  “Us need jobs.  Me spend more.”  That’s all these Einsteins understand.  Ha!

I say that if we’re going to ask presidential candidates about evolution, we should also ask them how they feel about math–maybe even ask them to solve a problem or two (and show their work, obviously).

Of course, I would also ask them how they feel about shoes in the house.  If they don’t allow shoes in their house, they might not support my Constitutional right to wear shoes in my house–or my right to refuse to remove my shoes anywhere.  My body, my choice.  Do they respect that?  Well, do they?  And if they won’t defend my shoe rights, who’s to say what other rights they won’t defend?  Not to mention the implications their personal preference may have for our relations with other countries that don’t share our shoe-wearing norms.  There could be a host of diplomatic embarrassments in our future if we do not ascertain now whether a presidential candidate is a shoe-wearer or a shoe-hater.  Are they prepared to go barefoot in the Oval Office?  How will that reflect on the dignity of the office?  I want to know!

I have discovered a new theme for this blog.  From now on, everything will be analyzed in terms of what it means for the President of the United States.  At least until the election, and then I’ll stop.  (For four more years.)

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