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June 6, 2010 - Ray Hall (Archive)

Historically truth, specifically scientific truth, has been met with skepticism and irrationality arising from fear and ignorance. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) is revered as the father of astronomy, physics and the father of modern science. Yet, when he said the earth was not the center of the universe and that the earth revolved around the sun he was criticized and condemned by his contemporaries. He was forced by the Catholic Church to recant but later reaffirmed his beliefs and was tried by the Inquisition. He was found guilty and placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life.

Looking backward almost all of us shudder to think how ignorant, even stupid Galileo’s critics were and we question their sanity not his. Sadly, we haven’t really emerged from the shadows of those who condemned the great thinkers. A United States Senator, James Inhofe (R-OK) claims that global warming is a hoax created by environmentalists and that God is cooling the earth. The Texas School Board wants Thomas Jefferson removed from school textbooks because he is too liberal and ungodly and they want more positive pages about President Ronald Reagan.

Many Americans believe that evolution and Darwin should be banned from text books and creationism taught in its place. Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University has a dinosaur fossil they insist is only five thousand years old and right wing Texas school board members want to focus on “significant contributions” of pro-slavery Confederate leaders and call the slave trade “Atlantic triangular trade.”

The Texas school board wing nuts removed Dolores Huerta who cofounded the United Farm Workers of America from the third grade texts because she was a socialist and “besides.” remarked one member “no one has ever heard of her.” The Huffington Post reported that they left Helen Keller in the same text standard not realizing she was a staunch socialist.

There is more: Fifty-six percent of Americans believe that God is a He.

One-third of Americans believe the Bible is literally true.

A Parade Magazine poll found that 1 in 5 Americans claim to have actually had contact with the dead.

Ten percent of Americans believe environmentalists created the oil spill in the Gulf.

Until recently I was angered whenever I read or heard of such ignorance, such stupidity and wondered how it could exist in the Twenty-first Century but, now I think I have a clue as to why people are the way they are.

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America recently reported that most people living outside Africa can trace up to 4% of their DNA to Neanderthals--a consequence of interbreeding between the two groups.

The article concludes that anthropologists have speculated for years that early humans mated with Neanderthals, but the latest study provides the strongest evidence so far, suggesting that the encounters took place around 60,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent Region of the Middle East.

Perhaps the scientists are wrong, perhaps they need to reexamine their work, because upon further examination they will likely find that some Americans have much more than 4% Neanderthal DNA; maybe as much as half. That could be a clue why so many people are so dumb when it comes to science.


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