Beyond the war on science: Why the right embraces ignorance as a virtue

Beyond the war on science: Why the right embraces ignorance as a virtue

Spouting off about stuff you know nothing about is traditionally considered unwise. But as the Republican war on science intensifies, ignorance has started to become not only less of a handicap, but a point of pride. In the face of expertise and facts, being belligerently ignorant—and offended that anyone dare suggest ignorance is less desirable than knowledge—has become the go-to position for many conservative politicians and pundits. Sadly, it’s a strategy that’s working, making it harder every day for liberals to argue the value of evidence and reason over wishful thinking and unblinking prejudice.

The strategy of holding out ignorance to be the equivalent of expertise and simply daring your opponents to try to do anything about it was epitomized recently in the Ohio legislature. Republican state legislator John Becker introduced a bill that would ban all insurance plans in the state from covering abortion. It was a horribly misogynist and intrusive bill, but Becker didn’t stop at just trying to outlaw abortion coverage. He also insisted that IUDs, the most effective contraception available, be outlawed from insurance coverage. His reasoning was that he believes IUDs cause abortion, because he believes they work by killing fertilized eggs.

He is, of course, factually wrong in multiple ways.

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