Brad Plumer writes that the GOP party-wide rush to denounce climate change is being driven by a small minority of fervent Tea Party types. While it’s an interesting read in its own right, there’s a larger subtext I find downright frightening. There’s no reason to suppose these findings are limited to their climate fantasies.
Two points struck me:
Researchers on cognitive social networks at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute recently found that “when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society.”
Tea Partiers are also by far the most confident in their beliefs — more likely to say they are “very well informed” and that they “do not need any more information about global warming.” Note that this dovetails with earlier research finding that when you give those dismissive of global warming more information, it only serves to harden their doubts.
Self-identified Tea Party types make up just 12 percent of the population. But that’s apparently enough to give them and their warped reality sway over public opinion and policy. And there’s apparently little the rest of us can do to induce any sanity on them either. The more we dump rational arguments and data on them, the further convinced they are about their delusions.
Are we doomed to the anti-science Christian theocracy they envision? A world where our money is tied to gold, the government is apathetic to your plight, education is relegated to kitchen tables and churches, corporations are free to pollute their way to profits, unions don’t exist, and medical care will only be available to those with enough chickens to trade for it?
I’m certainly not expecting the GOP debate tonight to dissuade my fears.