In her article, Is the March for Science Bad for Scientists?, Emily Atkin made a point that is both dangerous and foolhardy:
If scientists are defensive in the first place, perhaps it’s because of conservative rhetoric portraying them as partisan hacks. That’s not likely to change. Regardless of whether there are anti-Trump signs at the march, outlets like Fox News and Breitbart will likely characterize it as further proof that scientists are hopelessly biased and untrustworthy. Their viewers might buy it, but most Americans do not. Public trust of scientists is high: 76 percent of Americans have “at least a fair amount of confidence” in scientists, the highest level of trust in any profession behind doctors and members of the military.
What Atkin doesn’t seem to realize is that the March for Science has the potential, depending on it’s success in terms of publicity, to change this. I explained this before, so let me simply summarize:
- Yes, it is true that 76 percent of Americans have “at least a fair amount of confidence” in scientists, the highest level of trust in any profession behind doctors and members of the military.
- I would argue this trust exists because most Americans view scientists as being non-partisan. That explains why they cluster with doctors and the military.
- Point 2 is also supported by the data – almost 65% of Americans don’t think of scientists as being politically liberal or conservative.
- Yet the perceptions of most Americans are false – 55% of scientists are liberal and 9% are conservative. The skew is even more extreme with party affiliations. 81% of scientists are Democrats or lean Democrat, yet only 12% are Republican or lean Republican.
Atkin seems to think that 76% trust figure is a fixed number and can be used by the March for Science partisans to leverage their politicized agenda. In reality, the 76% trust number is likely tied to faulty information about the skewed political leanings of the scientific community. If the March for Science is a publicity success, that faulty information is vulnerable to correction and thus we might expect the 76% number to dwindle over time.
The Friendly Atheist blog is excited about Netflix airing a new movie about Madalyn Murray O’Hair. O’Hair was the original New Atheist (Dawkins is just a polished version of O’Hair), so I always thought it strange that today’s New Atheists don’t pay her much attention. Anyway, what’s interesting is the way the Gnus are trying to rewrite history by turning her into a some victim of religion. The Friendly Atheist blog writes:
She was also murdered for having the audacity to not believe in a god and defend those who believed the same.
This could not be more wrong. O’Hair was murdered by another atheist, David Waters, she once employed as an office manager for American Atheists. And it looks like her murder was triggered by one of the those atheist fights that got out of hand. Waters apparently stole around $50,000 from Madalyn Murray O’Hair. She responded by writing this article for her magazine which publicized all kinds of dirt about Waters, including his past criminal history. This humiliated and enraged Waters, who then began to fantasize about gruesomely murdering O’Hair. With the help of two accomplices, Waters kidnapped O’Hair and her son and granddaughter. Although it wasn’t simply about killing O’Hair. As office manager, Waters believed the O’Hairs were able to embezzle money from their organization and figured he would be able to score all the hidden money. Anyway, the details of the whole kidnapping are strange, but as it ended, Waters killed all the O’Hairs and one of his accomplices and cut them up into pieces.
Why anyone would try to blame any of this on religion is beyond me.
New Atheists blogs love to trumpet the fact that millennials are the most secular generation. Apparently, this is supposed to mean that our culture will naturally become more secular, giving hope that eventually some sort of atheistic utopia is around the corner.
Yet the same New Atheist blogs don’t like to mention other concerning aspects of the millennials. For example, as I playfully noted earlier, millennials also have the distinction of being the generation that shows the greatest hostility toward free speech.
Another concerning aspect of the millennials is that they seem much more susceptible to mental illness:
Armstrong is one of more than 5 million college students struggling with mental health, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the country’s largest grassroots mental health organization. Rates of anxiety and depression in particular have skyrocketed in what many are calling a crisis of mental health on college campuses.
Like Armstrong, more students than ever come to college on medication or in treatment for mental health problems, according to a report by The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2015. More than 25 percent of college students have a diagnosable mental illness and have been treated in the past year, according to NAMI.
At MU, 61 percent of 1,010 college students who responded to an American College Health Association assessment in fall 2014 reported feeling overwhelming anxiety within the last year. And 35.5 percent said they “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function.”
Mental health problems don’t just start in college. According to Psychology Today, “the average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.”
You have to wonder is the millennial’s rejection of God and religion is connected to their increased levels of anxiety and depression. After all, there are many studies that have shown religion to have a positive impact on well-being. For example, consider one such study from 1994:
Over the last few years, I have noticed a common thread among the influential, prolific, and/or very public activists – they are unemployed. And because they are unemployed, they seek money through their activism in the form of speeches, books, donations, etc. That’s how they support themselves. Consider New Atheist activist Sam Harris. After getting his PhD in Neuroscience, he did not secure a teaching or research position. Instead, he devoted his full attention to his atheist activism as “CEO” of his own “Project Reason.” Or take atheist activist Hemant Mehta. He quit his job as a teacher to devote his full attention to his internet-related atheist activism. To make a living, he needs people to click on his blog and send him donations. Then there is atheist activist Richard Carrier, who is unemployed and had to sue other atheist activists because they made accusations that cut into his activist money-making abilities. There is no reason to think this theme is specific to atheist activists, for it would seem most of society’s influential, prolific, and/or very public activists are professional activists. Their job is their activism. And I think this poses a serious problem.
Those who have regular jobs producing products or providing services, along with those who own small businesses selling products, all have something in common – they have to interact daily with people who may not think like they do and who may not share their values. When your co-workers, customers, bosses, suppliers, etc. have very different religious, political, or metaphysical views, you have to nevertheless cooperate. You have to get along. And because of that, friendships can even occur. And even if they don’t, those who are politically and/or religiously different from you have a face. They are people you know and work with.
The activist is different. They are not in a position of having to get along with people who are different. They can have complete control over the people with whom they have to associate. And if they do work, it is often within an activist organization, such that the activist is surrounded by like-minded allies.