Conservatives in our era have a lunatic relationship to empirical reality. The miserably pathetic struggle of the right wing of the GOP to shut out the offensive noises emitted by scientists has become one of the central themes of our time. But they are not alone.
I wish I could reproduce this Daily Beast post by Michael Schulson in its entirety. Better yet, I wish I’d written it:
You don’t have to schlep all the way to [the Creation Museum in] Kentucky in order to visit America’s greatest shrine to pseudoscience. In fact, that shrine is a 15-minute trip away from most American urbanites.
I’m talking, of course, about Whole Foods Market. From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort (more on that later), Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. And if you want a sense of how weird, and how fraught, the relationship between science, politics, and commerce is in our modern world, then there’s really no better place to go. Because anti-science isn’t just a religious, conservative phenomenon—and the way in which it crosses cultural lines can tell us a lot about why places like the Creation Museum inspire so much rage, while places like Whole Foods don’t.
If you want to hear a lefty take leave of all their pretensions about a superior scientific understanding of the world, change the subject to food.
If scientific accuracy in the public sphere is your jam, is there really that much of a difference between Creation Museum founder Ken Ham, who seems to have made a career marketing pseudoscience about the origins of the world, and John Mackey, a founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, who seems to have made a career, in part, out of marketing pseudoscience about health?
Well, no—there isn’t really much difference, if the promulgation of pseudoscience in the public sphere is, strictly speaking, the only issue at play. By the total lack of outrage over Whole Foods’ existence, and by the total saturation of outrage over the Creation Museum, it’s clear that strict scientific accuracy in the public sphere isn’t quite as important to many of us as we might believe. Just ask all those scientists in the aisles of my local Whole Foods.
The article is a gem. In summary, the attempt (it is always just an attempt) to live a life in consistent contact with the best measures of objective reality means near constant discomfort. None of us really like it, otherwise there would be no Disney World. Perhaps we should all be a little more patient with each other. Yes, I remember what I’ve written and I’m mindful of the pieces I’m planning to write as I make that statement. Will be thinking about it.