Creationists — the New Luddites

This may not be a revolutionary idea, but it’s new to us and we think it’s worth considering. At the threshold, lets be sure we know who the original Luddites were. Wikipedia informs us:

The Luddites were a social movement of 19th-century English textile artisans who protested—often by destroying mechanized looms—against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, that replaced them with less-skilled, low-wage labour, leaving them without work and changing their way of life. … The movement was named after Ned Ludd, a youth who had allegedly smashed two stocking frames thirty years earlier, and whose name had become emblematic of machine destroyers.

[...]

The movement began in Nottingham in 1811 and spread rapidly throughout England in 1811 and 1812. Mills and pieces of factory machinery were burned by handloom weavers, and for a short time Luddites were so strong that they clashed in battles with the British Army. Many wool and cotton mills were destroyed before the British government suppressed the movement.

We know what you’re thinking: What does any of that have to do with creationism? The Luddites mindlessly attacked machinery — the symbol of what they believed was destroying what they thought was an ideal, pre-industrial world. The creationists of today don’t have that kind of misinformed, anti-industrial motive, but they too are mindlessly attacking what they see as the symbol of what is changing their world — and their target is science.

Of course it’s not a perfect analogy. The original Luddites were violent and physically destructive. Creationists aren’t — at least not yet. The leaders of the creationist movement probably aren’t ever likely to run around attacking science labs. They’re too busy making money off of their foolish flocks. But their followers — we think most of them are crazed enough to do almost anything.

Do you doubt that? We don’t. It’s true that there hasn’t yet been any creationist violence, at least none we’re aware of — but it certainly isn’t inconceivable. That’s especially true with the lies that are constantly being spewed about science — and evolution in particular — about being anti-God and pro-Hitler. Creationism’s leaders may be personally non-violent, but their teachings have a lot of potential for encouraging mass insanity.

There’s a contemporary movement described as Neo-Luddism. According to Wikipedia:

Neo-Luddism is a personal world view opposing many forms of modern technology. …[The original Luddites] along with modern Neo-Luddites are characterized by the practice of destroying private property as a means of protest. Neo-Luddism includes the critical examination of the effects technology has on individuals and communities.

[...]

Industrial Society and Its Future (1995) is a recent expression of Neo-Luddism by Theodore Kaczynski, also known as the Unabomber.

Isn’t that lovely — Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber! A little bit of technophobia goes a long way. Here’s a bit more from Wikipedia on Neo-Luddism:

Neo-Luddism expresses significant doubts about the nature of benefits from uncritically embracing new information technology. Neo-Luddism holds the belief that we were better off before its advent and is the opposite of technophilia, the belief that technological innovation will remedy all ills.

Okay, that’s enough. You can read more about the movement if you like. But although it’s not mentioned in Wikipedia’s article, we think the creationist movement, with it’s fanatical anti-science attitude, literally reeks of Neo-Luddism.

What’s our conclusion? We don’t have one, really; we’re just making observations. So far, the creationists haven’t been rushing out of their trailer parks waiving their torches and pitchforks, on their way to burn down universities and research facilities. But could it happen? Given all the crazy anti-science propaganda they’re always getting from creationist websites (you know which ones we mean), we’re virtually certain that it will happen — at least sporadically.

So we’re going to revise our customary description of the Discoveroids — the creationists who work for the Discovery Institute. We’ve been calling them neo-theocrats and cdesign proponentsists, but now we’re going to add neo-Luddites to that description.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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27 responses to “Creationists — the New Luddites

  1. The Luddites, in the past and present, were not against all technology. The movement was a reaction to job loss and a declining standard of living. Some elements within the Luddite movement were violent but not all Luddites were/are violent.
    Mindless worship at the altar of technology and progress continue to degrade the planet we live in and lower the standard of living for millions of people. We never seem to ask, not can we but should we?
    I wish people who want to rant about right wingers would not use trailer parks as part of their rant. It is demeaning to the many good, hard working poor people who live in trailers. My wife and I, along with our six children, lived in a trailer for many years.
    That said, I agree with your views on creationism.

  2. I have occasionally called myself a hi-tech luddite. It’s not that I go around smashing hi-tech. In fact, I love the stuff. It’s just that I don’t trust it. Some of hi-tech is very fragile, though that has been improving.

    I think of the Vietnam war, and the way that we bombed the s**t out of North Vietnam. If they had been as reliant on technology as we are, that would have seriously damaged them. But because they mostly depended on a more robust lo-tech, they were easily able to continue in spite of our bombing.

  3. retiredsciguy

    SC, you may wish to streamline this citation,

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/icr-nasa-photo-proves-noahs-flood/ ,

    but in a comment therein Doc Bill refers to those who are literal believers of Noah’s Flood as “Fluddites”. Same basic idea, no?

  4. Two words: Todd Akin.

    “Women can shut that whole thing down.”

    To me the neo-Luddites think their beliefs trump reality.

  5. En route. S of Le Mans.

    Difference between affluence and standard of living. Science and tech have made available clean water, sanitation, food, electricity to the entire planet. Lifespan is longer , birth mortality smaller, smallpox eradicated, and mostly polio and soon malaria. All from the Alter of Technology and NONE from creationism or religion. There Beaver Clever was a myth as are the Good Old Days.

  6. Ps. Posted live from an iPhone while a passenger in a car speeding down a motorway in France.

  7. Curmudgeon: “But their followers — we think most of them are crazed enough to do almost anything.”

    You did great up to that sentence. Time for the demographics lesson again. By “creationists” you obviously mean that tiny minority that I call “anti-evolution activists.” Most of whom are apparently not Biblical literalists, with even fewer that believe YEC nonsense, but all with a radical authoritarian agenda that relies on fooling the “masses.”

    The followers are 3 groups, roughly ¼ of the Adult population each. The first is committed evolution-deniers (mostly Biblical literalists, and ~1/2 YEC) who don’t need anti-evolution activists. The second is those with varying doubts of evolution that result from poor science literacy coupled with constant bombardment with misleading sound bites. The third claims to accept evolution “or something like it,” but thinks it’s fair to teach what the activists demand in science class.

    Certainly a few followers are “crazed” enough to become violent but far from most. In the meantime, we have a much bigger problem. And we’re not going to solve it by obsessing over the committed evolution-deniers, but rather by patiently educating the other 2 groups. We can, and must make them aware of the scams that have been perpetrated on them for a half century, starting with a pretense at “science,” and steadily degenerating into a paranoid rant that pretends that “Darwinists” are out to replace God with Hitler.

  8. The chicken coming home to roost will be us buying our American “exceptionalism” We’re #1 foam fingers from China because we can’t make them ourselves.

  9. @Bruce Gerencser: Millions of which people? I’d second docbill’s comment about the overall impact of technological and economic change globally. Nothing’s free, to be sure, and there are negative effects — a rising tide floats all boats but can also drown you if you’re not careful. But all other things being equal, we’re seeing enormous progress in living standards, life expectancy and basic measures of health around the world.

    On a small scale, if you’re looking at the U.S. or probably most other advanced economies, this is a great time if you’re educated and flexible. It’s an awful time if you think prosperity is an entitlement, haven’t invested in your skills, hate change, or aren’t ready to run really hard to keep up. Unfortunately, that’s not the economy’s fault, or a technology problem — that’s human nature. As docbill’s French hosts are learning, you can’t have just the good parts of globalization — you get the good, the bad and the ugly, or none of it.

  10. Violence is not required to be destructive, just look at the efforts to dismantle science education.

    @DocBill: I’m terrible jealous – Happy travels!

  11. docbill1351 says: “Posted live from an iPhone while a passenger in a car speeding down a motorway in France.”

    Beware! The rumor is that French women can tempt our lads into immoral ways. Things haven’t been the same since our boys went “over there” back in WWI. Control yourself and make your Curmudgeon proud.

  12. SC,
    Is the potential for violence part of a larger dynamic regarding
    miseducation with regards to science? It appears to me that those who are extreme in their views on creationism and science education, are likewise going to be part of the more unsavory aspects of ultra conservatism like
    foreign policy aggressive militancy, or social issues like gays in the military, gay rights, Wade vs Roe and other items. I know I’m opneing a big can of worms with that sentence, but I think there is a strong link there thyat can spill over into real bad stuff someday.
    Is Ken Ham on the right on those issues? You bet he is.maybe the potential for violence occurs at the intersection of all of those idealogies

    If you’re rolling west , head for Czechosavakia while you still can Doc.
    But bring a nice Bordeaux with you. :)

  13. will says: “It appears to me that those who are extreme in their views on creationism and science education, are likewise going to be part of the more unsavory aspects of ultra conservatism like foreign policy aggressive militancy, or social issues like gays in the military, gay rights, Wade vs Roe and other items.”

    That seems to be the collection of positions of the “social conservatives” in the US. But there’s not really any logical consistency in combining those issues (especially creationism) with the traditional limited government, free-enterprise, strong military positions of yesterday’s GOP. Those same “so-con” issues are (and always have been) a strong part of the Democrat party in places like Louisiana.

    I’ve explained before that I attribute the current (and incoherent) collection of GOP issues to the accidental (not inevitable) blending of the formerly Democrat-aligned followers of William Jennings Bryan into the present-day GOP. It’s often an uneasy alliance. Recall that Goldwater had contempt for the social conservatives, and the “so-cons” often had contempt (and still do) for what they called “country-club” Republicans.

    Other groupings of issues are certainly possible. In the former Soviet Union, for example, and in Cuba today, those regimes managed to combine leftist economics with aggressive militancy and intolerance of gays. Creationism is a position of aggressive ignorance, and it’ll fit in where it can, but I think it’s a mistake to say it naturally belongs anywhere in a left-right spectrum.

  14. I don’t buy the claim that Creationists are akin to Neo-Luddites. They’re not going to take steps towards damaging science labs and so forth.

    The vast majority of Creationists are not concerned with science. Rather, Creationist activists are concerned with what public schools teach in science classes. To them, evolutionary theory has nothing to do with actual scientific research; it’s just armchair philosophy AFATAC.

    Even the DI’s “wedge strategy” has nothing to do with damaging existing science facilities, other than through “re-programming” scientists to dispense with “materialist philosophies.” IMO such re-programming is damaging enough, but clearly not what you mean here.

  15. Curmudgeon: “But there’s not really any logical consistency in combining those issues (especially creationism) with the traditional limited government, free-enterprise, strong military positions of yesterday’s GOP.”

    Especially since it’s conservative idea to restrict science education to that which has earned the right to be taught as science, and to not give Johnny credit for wrong answers on the test. Whereas anti-evolution activists want to give taxpayer-funded “handouts” to the bedwedtters who whine about being “expelled” instead of doing the hard work of supporting their own alternate explanation on its own merits.

  16. The Creationists are Intellectual Luddites — instead of destroying laboratories, they are bent on destroying the ideas that underpin modern science, so as to open the door to supernatural causation as a legitimate scientific explanatory precept.

  17. rubble says: “I don’t buy the claim that Creationists are akin to Neo-Luddites. They’re not going to take steps towards damaging science labs and so forth.”

    I hope you’re right, but I fear that you’re wrong. We shall see.

  18. If I may:

    Longshadow: “The Creationists are Intellectual Luddites — instead of destroying laboratories, they are bent on destroying the ideas that underpin modern science, so as to open the door to supernatural causation as a legitimate scientific explanatory precept.” deprive people of the education which weakens their position of theocratic power.

    I don’t think the Creationist don’t give a damn about the science, they just want to support their own power structure.

  19. AlpsStranger@gmail.com

    “That seems to be the collection of positions of the “social conservatives” in the US. But there’s not really any logical consistency in combining those issues (especially creationism) with the traditional limited government, free-enterprise, strong military positions of yesterday’s GOP. Those same “so-con” issues are (and always have been) a strong part of the Democrat party in places like Louisiana.”

    I don’t think it’s wise for people who respect science to give the Republicans even the slightest consideration until they detach themselves from the SoCon radicals.

    If the SoCon radicals end up attached to the Democrats then I’ll become a Republican overnight. Wherever they go, I go the other direction. Full stop.

  20. AlpsStranger says: “I don’t think it’s wise for people who respect science to give the Republicans even the slightest consideration until they detach themselves from the SoCon radicals.”

    If that’s your sole issue, then it’s still not a clear choice, because there are so-cons in both parties. However, they’re far more prominent in today’s GOP. Nevertheless, most Dems are totally ignorant of science, as are Republicans. The Dems’ idea of “science” is mostly sociology. If they thought it was to their political advantage to abolish NASA and spend that money on food stamps, they’d do it. The appearance that the Dems support science is not because they understand or appreciate science — it’s strictly politics. They sense that they get support from academia so they tend to be generous. The unfortunate reality is that both parties are run by fools.

  21. AlpsStranger@gmail.com

    Perhaps, but I find it a little hard to be so even handed when Todd Akin was on a “science committee.”

  22. Curmie writes: “The Dems’ idea of “science” is mostly sociology.”

    Sociology, or Economics, right Curmie?

    {ducks under table} ;-)

  23. Curm: most Dems are totally ignorant of science, as are Republicans. …The appearance that the Dems support science is not because they understand or appreciate science — it’s strictly politics.

    This is false. Dem politicians might not know much about scientific facts and details, but they understand what the scientific method is. A lot of non-scientists are ignorant of scientific facts and details, but they don’t believe in creationism because they understand what the scientific method is, and they can smell bull that obviously subverts the scientific method.

    The appearance that the Dems support science is not because they understand or appreciate science — it’s strictly politics.

    Wrong. The Dems don’t feel a need to undermine scientific authority and replace it with religious or corporate authority. Politicians in general may be ignorant of scientific facts and details, but the Dems understand what the scientific method is and don’t want to undermine it.

    Anti-science nowadays is about the attempt to replace scientific authority, which ought to derive from the scientific method, and replace that with religious or corporate authority.

    The Dems don’t need to undermine scientific authority– the GOP feel they need to. It’s totally hypothetical as to what Dems would do if they did feel a need to undermine scientific authority.

    And now we get the total hypothetical:

    If they thought it was to their political advantage to abolish NASA and spend that money on food stamps, they’d do it.

    Totally hypothetical. But if their “base” is so ignorant, then why ISN’T it to their political advantage to “abolish NASA and spend that money on food stamps”? If it’s NOT to their political advantage, is that because: their base is pro-science, or because their base doesn’t want a handout?

    The Dems’ idea of “science” is mostly sociology.

    This is false– why did Dems not challenge the science on tobacco causing cancer, or AGW?

    Some flooty hippies oppose GMO crops. Why don’t the Dems grovel to them the way the GOP grovels to creationists and AGW conspiracy theorists?

    I don’t doubt that Pelosi and Reid couldn’t tell a protein from DNA. But do they believe in the Climategate conspiracy, like Paul Ryan?

  24. This whole post is bad.

    Curm, I hope you will not adopt the habit of calling creationists “neo-Luddites.” The Luddites were against technology that caused unemployment. Creationists undermine the scientific method. It’s not the same thing.

    Creationists usually claim that they’re pro-science. But, whenever they say this, they’re subtly re-defining both science and the scientific method.

    When creationists say they’re pro-science, they mean they’re pro-TECHNOLOGY– as you know, creationists define “operational science” to mean technology, which they’re for. (You know that– you’ve written all about their re-definitions of science.)

    This is a subtle redefinition of science which we have to expose and fight. But, if we call them “neo-Luddites”, then we’re accusing them of being against technology, and that allegation completely confuses our case.

    I feel we should be clear: given the evidence in favor of evolution, it is not possible to oppose evolution today without re-defining the scientific method. Creationist seek to subtly (or explicitly) redefine the scientific method, which is more insidious than smashing machines, which they certainly will not do.

    They want to re-define the scientific method because they want to replace scientific authority (which rightly should derive from the scientific method) with the religious and corporate authorities that they are loyal to.

    That’s why creationists spend so much time trying to make scientists look stupid and to make themselves look smart. That’s why creationists use SAFI arguments (Scientists are Freaking Idiots) like the “junk DNA is a myth” Hoax and “If human evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

    And when they are caught spouting factual falsehoods themselves, they never admit they are wrong, because they must make themselves look smart and never admit errors.

    They’ll say anything to make scientists look stupid and make themselves look smart, because the argument is all about authority and who has it and where it comes from. They want their religious and corporate authorities to control scientific evidence and hypotheses without doing experiments. The argument is not about them smashing machines, but about transferring earned authority to those who didn’t earn it.

  25. Diogenes says: “This whole post is bad.”

    I kinda like it.

  26. SC,
    Okay, I’ll buy those ideas regarding creationism not being in any particular political spectrum. Thanks for supplying some background context in particular. That helps.
    I seem to lump rather than split often.
    . Anyway, thats what my sequence stratigraphy prof said.So many parasequence boundaries, flooding surfaces and unconformities,
    lumping simplifies it all…………….a mindset it appears.

    Frank J, I focussed on your comments that conservatives value real science.
    I know I do. So maybe that makes me a conservative. I’m thinking my NY Times subscription may have to go though. Its informative in the extreme but ……………
    Cognitive processing assembly turned on here and trying to
    see my way forward without being a flamer. Time to read more about WJ Bryan for background.

  27. @Will:

    I hate to say it, but you’re using creationist “logic.” I did not say that “conservatives value real science.” Politicians and their fans (e.g. on talk radio) who call themselves “conservatives” (and IMO are mostly authoritarian lately) mostly do not value science. I don’t think liberal politicians value it much either, but that’s another debate for another time.

    What I said is that science itself is “conservative” in the (admittedly archaic) meaning, in that one must earn the right to have ones’ findings published and taught. Not to mention all that competition. Whereas “creationists” refuse to do the work and demand the equivalent of welfare. Liberals who strongly support science may be common on these boards, but they are as non-representative of liberals as a whole as Curmy and I are of conservatives.