I once mentioned that anyone concerned with protecting the scientific integrity of evolutionary theory would be at least as upset with X-Men stories as with Creationism. As this essay points out, it’s a difference in clientele: Creationism is promoted by those who are sufficiently and officially other, while my friends and I shop at Whole Foods (that’s the hypothetical ‘my friends and I’ – I think I’ve been in a Whole Foods once in my life) and catch X-Men: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Physics at the multiplex.
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.
So, why do many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently? The most common liberal answer to that question isn’t quite correct: namely, that creationists harm society in a way that homeopaths don’t. I’m not saying that homeopathy is especially harmful; I’m saying that creationism may be relatively harmless. In isolation, unless you’re a biologist, your thoughts on creation don’t matter terribly much to your fellow citizens; and unless you’re a physician, your reliance on Sacred Healing Food to cure all ills is your own business.
No has yet to explain why Creationists are a threat to all that is good and true, while the hemp-wearing, women-studies majoring consumers of probiotics are not. Creationists are very unlikely to sit on the local state university board making funding and hiring decisions, while people who think – and teach their students – that science is nothing more than a tool of patriarchal oppression most certainly do, and are not shy about using their power against any enemies – like, say, scientists with enough integrity to challenge their stupid fantasies.
So, to recap: Academics and their sycophants bravely go after Creationists, who have very little power to do much of anything to their lives and livelihoods, to the applause of their peers. These same people give a complete pass to those among their peers who promote even more egregious pseudoscience and anti-science in the various ‘studies’ departments and elsewhere on campus, but who do have the ability to damage their careers and livelihoods.
I’m unconvinced by claims such folks are motivated by a love of science.