Archive - Apr 28, 2009

The Face Of The Enemy

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Memo to Joe Barton: YOU ARE DUMB.

After the better part of five-plus years chronicling the depravity of the insipid on this site, I'm no closer to any great revelation about how to stop them. Thank fuck I've only tasked myself with pointing and laughing, because if I somehow ended up as the commander in a cataclysmic final battle between the Smart and the Dumb, we'd be hosed.

About the best I've been able to manage is identifying the central flaw in our eternal battle of wits against the unarmed masses. And it's a doozy. You see, stupid people, by nature of their being stupid, are incapable of understanding that other people are smarter than they are. We smart people have at least had the experience of being smarter than stupid people. This gives us a handy frame of reference for those occasions when someone even smarter comes along.

Stupid people don't have this. Every stupid person on the planet is convinced that they are at the peak of human cognition. They can't even imagine that other people might be able to do things with their brain. This is how you end up with creationists thinking they can run a museum. Why not? They have ideas, and money to pay craftsmen to build dioramas of those ideas. Therefore, they're just as good as the Smithsonian! This is also how you end up with Chris Matthews discussing politics on the teevee, by the way.<?p>

The best example of this problem is Texas congressman Joe Barton, who is an idiot. Since being an idiot has never been an impediment in politics, he gets to represent the morons that voted for him by occasionally saying things on the floor of the House when it's his turn. Energy Secretary Steven Chu is not an idiot. He may, in fact, be my single favorite member of Obama's cabinet, because he pretty much stepped out of the lab and into the Department of Energy, a journey which is as far removed as you can get from Bush-era hiring practices. When Chu came to the House, Barton tried to catch him out on one of those fake science "controversies" that wingnuts forward to each other in e-mail. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Barton: You’re our scientist. I have one simple question for you in the last six seconds. How did all the oil and gas get to Alaska and under the Arctic Ocean? Chu: (laughs) This is a complicated story, but oil and gas is the result of hundreds of millions of years of geology, and in that time also the plates have moved around, and so, um, it’s the combination of where the sources of the oil and gas are– Barton: But, but wouldn’t it obvious that at one time it was a lot warmer in Alaska and on the North Pole. It wasn’t a big pipeline that we created in Texas and shipped it up there and then put it under ground so that we can now pump it out and ship it back. Chu: No. There are–there’s continental plates that have been drifting around throughout the geological ages– Barton: So it just drifted up there? Chu: That’s certainly what happened. And so it’s a result of things like that."

It's clear that Barton was trying to peddle some climate change denial bullshit he heard secondhand. And being not that bright, he assumed that his limited layman's understanding of the issue was equivalent to a Nobel Prize winning scientist's. Which is why, after the exchange, the sorry asshole whipped out his Twitter box and spewed this unto the world:

"I seemed to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question - Where does oil come from?"

You see the problem? A really smart person was taken slightly aback that a congressman from Texas was unaware that shit under the Earth's surface MOVES AROUND. The congressman sees this momentary confusion as Mister Smartypants Chu being unable to answer a simple question, and thus a victory for America's simpletons. Even though Chu answered his stupid question. And the question Barton tweeted wasn't the question Barton asked.

Ten years from now, Barton will still be telling his grandkids about the time he stumped the elitist scientist. Sure, the grandkids will be too busy trying to bail the Gulf Of Mexico out of the living room to pay much attention, but Barton won't care. He'll be secure in his lack of knowledge, and proud that he kept the damn socialists from taxing all the sweet, sweet Carbon God put under Alaska when, as part of the Garden of Eden, it was a balmy 72 degrees all year round.

You simply cannot educate people if they refuse to accept that you know something they don't. And with dumbfucks like Joe Barton free to tweet their ignorance with impunity to an audience of like-unminded who will carry him around on their virtual shoulders, there's no way to even shame the stupid into shutting up and letting the adults handle things. It's a hell of a conundrum, and I hope someone smarter than me has some good ideas for how to deal with it. Well, good and legal ideas not involving electric cattle prods, at least.

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