Thursday, 9 October 2008

Explaining Sarah Palin

Peter Watts, author of the excellent Blindsight, has a lengthy post 'Understanding Sarah Palin: Or, God Is In The Wattles' on the mystery of the religious right and their current poster girl Sarah Palin. It's very entertaining and thought provoking and well worth a read. some highlights;

Here's a question for you. Why hasn't natural selection driven the religious right to extinction?


And yet, this obnoxious coterie of retards — people openly and explicitly contemptuous of "intellectuals" and "evilutionists" and, you know, anyone who actually spends their time learning stuff — they not only refuse to die, they appear to rule the world.

Now let's go back a ways, to a Cornell Study from 1999 called "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments". It's a depressing study, with depressing findings:
  • People tend to overestimate their own smarts.
  • Stupid people tend to overestimate their smarts more than the truly smart do.
  • Smart people tend to assume that everyone else is as smart as they are; they honestly can't understand why dumber people just don't "get it", because it doesn't occur to them that those people actually are dumb.
  • Stupid people, in contrast, tend to not only regard themselves as smarter than everyone else, they tend to regard truly smart people as especially stupid. This holds true even when these people are shown empirical proof that they are less competent than those they deride.
This study found not only that religious communes last longer than secular ones, but that even among religious communes the ones that last longest are those with the most onerous, repressive, authoritarian rules.