Idiot America – not the book, but, rather, a state of mind – is based on what Pierce calls three "Great Premises":The problem is that these people are well-funded and their operations are well-staffed. Not a day goes by that there is not a story somewhere about the Discovery Institute and their relentless attacks on the teaching of evolutionary theory, attacks that a large section of the public is quite willing to accept as truth.
1. "Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings or otherwise moves units."
2. "Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough."
3. "Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it."
These premises, Pierce argues, are at work in absurdities such as the very loud, very public and very idiotic controversies over "intelligent design" (the story of Genesis dressed up as science), the fate of Terri Schiavo (a brain-dead woman who spent years being kept breathing in a Florida hospice thanks to the intervention of talkshow hosts and cynical politicians) and global warming (Pierce spends some time in Shishmaref, Alaska, a once-frozen village now literally melting into the Pacific Ocean).
Is the DI's principle spokesman a biologist? No, he's a lawyer with no training in biology. When they tout a list of scientists who dissent from evolution, does it matter that there are no field biologists on the list and only one palaeontologist? Not to the general public, many of who are quite willing to believe that the earth was created 6 000 years ago, despite the fact that there is as much evidence for that as there is that the earth is flat. P.T. Barnum once said that people have a tremendous "need" to be fooled. Sadly, that happens all too often here.
Now playing: Anthony Phillips - West Side Alice (1983)