6 Idiotic Right-Wing Moments This Week: War on Science and Knowledge Rages On

1. Elisabeth Hasselbeck demands that doctor panic about ebola because Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a parent.


Fox & Friends invited an actual doctor on this week to discuss the alarming news about the first case of ebola in America and then didn't listen to her expert opinion at all, and instead lectured her about what should be done. Infectious disease specialist Dalilah Restrepo was the lucky guest who got to be ignored and hectored into admitting that panic is the only reasonable response. The doctor held her ground admirably.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck asked: “How contagious is [ebola] in your mind?”

(The construction of the question is telling, because the only view that matters to Hasselbeck is the view that is already in her mind.)

Dr. Restrepo patiently explained that ebola is not contagious through the air like the flu or TB, but rather infectious, and only infectious through the bodily fluids of a person who is already symptomatic. Clearly, this distinction zoomed over everyone's head.

Steve Doocy and Eric Bolling talked about how everyone on the airplane should be quarantined, even though the doctor had just said the patient was not symptomatic on the airplane and therefore neither infectious nor contagious.

After not listening at all for a while, Hasselbeck insisted that she and everyone else has to panic irrationally because she’s a parent, and it’s important that parents panic irrationally. Also, all Americans have to panic and not be informed because, “It’s here!”

“You have a very calm tone,” Hasselbeck instructed. “It must come by nature with what you do professionally, doctor. The rest of us are saying, wait a minute, there’s a lot of panic when it comes to the flu, to lice. As a parent, I’m thinking, well, there should be a little bit of a justification for worry here."

Restrepo again tried to explain the difference between contagious diseases like the flu and ebola, but was interrrupted by suggestions that we ban people from West Africa from coming here. And people should be checked before they board and after they get off planes, shouldn't they? 

“But it’s here!” Hasselbeck insisted. 

2. Reality star Jessa Duggar blames Holocaust on Charles Darwin.

To be fair, no one expects reality stars to be geniuses. But Jessa Duggar, spawn of the evangelical Duggar family, produced a real headscratcher this week when she visited the Holocaust Museum and concluded that evolution was to blame. See, the idea that people are descended from apes has led directly to the racist idea that other people are “less than human” and the deaths of six million Jews. Because religious people who believe God made people in his image have never ever committed any atrocities against people of say, different faiths. Nope, can’t think of a single instance, Crusades.

Part of Duggar’s rambling post-Holocaust Museum-visit Instagram went: "Racism, stemming from the evolutionary idea that man came from something less than human; that some groups of people are ‘more evolved’ and others ‘less evolved.’”

As far as we know, Hitler did not compare Jewish people to apes, though he did think they were subhuman, but never mind. Curiously, Duggar did not mention the Nazi’s extermination campaign against homosexuals, probably because the Duggars are waging their own war on gay people. The all-life-is-sacred Duggar went on to talk about abortion, which the Holocaust reminds her of, because, well, everything reminds her and her 18 (and counting!) siblings of abortion.

3. Dr. Ben Carson: AP history leads straight to ISIS.

A conservative Colorado school board is waging a war on historical knowledge in its effort to change the AP history curriculum to be a little nicer to America. When high school students admirably raised hell about this blatant propagandistic move, the story went national, and the case became a cause celebre. You might say, this war on knowledge and the hope that knowledge will triumph could be one for the history books.

Among those paying attention to the controversy and feeling the need to comment inanely, was none other than Ben Carson, who at one time was an educated man, or at least went to medical school, but has traded that in for the chance to make idiotic commentary on Fox News.

This one is a doozy, even for a guy who called Obamacare worse than slavery. AP history, Carson opined, is a recruiting tool for ISIS.

Yah. He said that. Here it is verbatim:

"I am a little shocked quite frankly looking at the AP course in American history that's being taught in high schools across our country right now...There's only two paragraphs in there about George Washington. George Washington! Little or nothing about Dr. Martin Luther King...I think most people when they finish that course, they'd be ready to go sign up for ISIS. I mean, this is what we're doing to the young people in our nation...We have got to stop crucifying ourselves. Have we made mistakes as a nation? Of course we have. Why? Because we're people. And all people make mistakes."

And, well, might we add, that the last thing we’d ever want to do is learn from our mistakes, like, slavery. Or segregation. Or Vietnam. It's not like people learn history in order not to repeat it. No one would ever say that.

4. Bobby Jindal continues his flight from knowledge and science—Stephen Colbert nails him for it. Jindal tries to fight Colbert with humor. Guess who wins.

After Mitt Romney lost the last presidential election, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave a rousing speech about how Republicans had to stop insulting people's intelligence, stop treating voters like know-nothing idiots, and how they had to “stop being the stupid party.” There is reason to suspect that Jindal, who graduated from Brown with a major in biology and was a Rhodes scholar, is not completely stupid, just intellectually bankrupt.

Lately, Jindal has been backing away from all that pro-knowledge stuff, because it just isn’t playing well with the base. When questioned recently about whether he believes in evolution, he responded that he is “not an evolutionary biologist,” despite his majoring in biology. In any case, whether or not one is a scientist is irrelevant—that's what we have scientists for. Then he said he thought local school districts should decide how they are going to teach science. In other words, they should be free to raise little ignoramuses. (Or is it ignorami? I don't know, I'm not a linguistic scientist.)

Or, in Stephen Colbert's rephrasing of Jindal's words: "Evolution should be established science only locally. Like, on one Galapagos Island the finches have developed longer beaks to poke holes in cactus fruits. On another, they have shorter beaks because Jesus." 

Evolution is not the only science Jindal backs away from; he also challenges climate science. He has said he thinks global warming is a “Trojan horse” for the Democrats, and despite his state actually experiencing the effects of rising sea level, his recently released “Energy Plan” only mentions that fighting forest fires might be a good idea, because they make things really hot. And there aren't any forest fires in Louisiana. Nothing about fossil fuels. He's not a climate scientist, after all.

Still, despite at least acting like a very stupid person whether or not he actually is one, Jindal thinks he is smart enough to battle the shellacking Colbert gave him on his show. This week, Jindal tweeted: “If evolution is true @stephenathome, then why is your humor so far behind @thedailyshow?”

Pretty funny.

Not nearly as funny as Colbert.

Watch Colbert’s hilarious segment featuring Jindal. 

5. Chris Cuomo says Reza Aslan's tone is why Muslims are so scary.

While some waged war on hard sciences, like biology and climate science, CNN’s Chris Cuomo waged a battle with a religious scholar. Though not strictly a right-winger, Cuomo is just as Islamophobic as the next guy, and so he became alarmed when a Muslim person got angry on CNN. It was religious scholar Reza Aslan, who discussed with several CNN hosts the media’s tendency to over-generalize about “the Muslim world.” Aslan raised his voice in frustration during this debate. This, according to Cuomo, is why everyone is afraid of Muslims.

“His tone was angry. He wound up kind of demonstrating what people are fearful about when they think of the faith in the first place, which is the hostility of it,” Cuomo said. Later Cuomo brilliantly pointed out: “It’s not a coincidence that ISIS begins with an I.”

So, just to review, Reza Aslan, a scholar who actually knows something about religion, expressed some frustration with the fact that the media does not seem to be capable of or willing to making distinctions among the approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. This includes sometimes seemingly liberal people like Bill Maher, who repeats the phrase “the Muslim world” like a mantra to mean scary people who oppress women and behead apostates.

Reza Aslan did his darndest to show the intellectually lazy and racist nature of lumping all these millions of people together. He mentioned the peaceful largely Muslim countries of Indonesia and Malaysia. He pointed out that some Muslim countries have had several women heads of state, something the U.S. has yet to do. When no one heard him, or seemed willing to attempt to draw any distinctions in “the Muslim world,” he became frustrated and called the inability to do so “stupid,” which it is.

But when he said it, because he has slightly darker skin and is a Muslim, it was scary. ISIS is probably using the scary video of Aslan talking angily to recruit fighters right now.

Seriously, this might be the stupidest thing Chris Cuomo has ever said.

6. Sarah Palin’s geography fail: The White House is at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, right?

Reasons to be relieved Sarah Palin never got close to the White House are legion, but a new one emerged last week when she told the Values Voter Summit audience that “truth is in short supply at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue.” 

The people standing in the plaza in front of the Willard Hotel were a bit perplexed. The people in the White House, at 1600 Pennsyvania Avenue, had no comment.

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