Sunday, September 15, 2013

Amanda Marcotte on Bizarre Christian Right Theories Influencing American Politics: More on Need for Conversation Between Religion and Science

Yet another indicator of the importance of fashioning our theological views in fruitful dialogue with science--with real science and not the junk science that increasingly passes for scientific truth in much of the American religious right: as Amanda Marcotte notes

The Bush administration in particular provided some strong examples of how Christian right folk beliefs and conspiracy theories can percolate up to the highest levels of government without ever putting those ideas out in the general public. The Bush administration appointed Eric Keroack to the deputy assistant secretary of population affairs within the Department of Health and Human Services despite, and probably because of, Keroack’s strong anti-choice beliefs. Keroack became famous for his presentation, prior to appointment, of his belief that women’s brains get flooded with oxytocin when they have premarital sex, which makes them less capable of falling in love. Prior to Keroack’s appointment, this bizarre theory, which has no scientific basis and is pure Christian right babble, wasn’t something you could find through Google, much less the mainstream media. But it not only was a guiding belief of Keroack’s, it has been a mainstay of the kind of abstinence-only programs that Bush administration policy mandated in so many schools across the country. It was a classic example of how a right-wing myth can become widely influential through PowerPoint presentations and pamphlets without ever touching the Internet, where prying eyes might see it.

Marcotte points out that bizarre right-wing Christian truthiness pervades American political life and culture far more than most people recognize, because most of us don't inhabit the circles of communication in which its tenets are taken for granted and passed around as gospel truth. By the time it reaches the highest circles of our government--as in the appointment of Eric Keroack by the second President Bush, such truthiness has flooded right-wing talk spaces and energized the communities that depend on those talk spaces for transmission of "truth," while the rest of us are oblivious to what's triggering such reactions on the part of the American religious right.

And then, of course, as a counterbalance to Keroack's scientific finding that premarital intercourse floods women's brains (it's the woman who's always the subject of these "scientific" studies, isn't it?) with oxytocin, there's the equally ludicrous and unfounded "scientific" finding of the Catholic right that women--married ones, of course--crave semen like chocolate, because it's a magic cure for female depression (and here and here). When it's deposited in the vagina, it goes without saying . . . . 

As I said yesterday, it's imperative that we look carefully at who's inventing many of the "scientific" theories designed to put women and LGBTI people in their places in the divine-natural scheme of things. And it's imperative that we ask why those who are shopping around this junk science are doing so, and whose self-interest the pseudo-science serves.

P.S. Speaking of fact, I notice that in yesterday's posting which mentioned Brown v. Topeka, I got the date of that ruling wrong. It was 1954 and not 1957. I tend, in my head, to conflate the Supreme Court ruling with the integration crisis that occurred in 1957 in my hometown of Little Rock. I'm sorry for the mistake, and have now corrected it in yesterday's posting.

The graphic is a cartoon by Stephanie McMillan and is at her Code Green website.

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