# What’s the matter with the United States?

This just isn’t right. The United Kingdom is this small little country way off in Europe, and the United States is this giant powerful country, and they managed to put creationists in their place while we debate about electing them to the presidency. It makes no sense.

Leading scientists and naturalists, including Professor Richard Dawkins and Sir David Attenborough, are claiming a victory over the creationist movement after the government ratified measures that will bar anti-evolution groups from teaching creationism in science classes.

The Department for Education has revised its model funding agreement, allowing the education secretary to withdraw cash from schools that fail to meet strict criteria relating to what they teach. Under the new agreement, funding will be withdrawn for any free school that teaches what it claims are "evidence-based views or theories" that run "contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations".

Which reminds me…where are the American Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough, huh? The world just isn’t fair. On the basis of the population difference alone, we ought to have 10 Dawkins/Attenborough equivalents here.

You don’t think…could there be a relationship between a compromised educational system and the shortage of outspoken advocates for science?

(Also on Sb)

1. robertjudge says

Sorry Mr Myers thats just the diference between a country with a rich history and culture and the USoA we are just more evolved, maybe when you have over a thousand years of history as a country you will have evolved enough to put away such childish thoughts as a nation.
Said tongue in cheek of course.
RobJ

2. says

It’s not the respective educational establishments, it’s cultural. The U.S. was founded by religious dissenters, many from what is now the U.K. Essentially they dumped their fundies and we got ‘em. Now thanks to geographic factors we are a bigger deal than the mother country, but as baggage we have to deal with the nutcase leftovers who are descended from their religious misfits.

3. says

I’m convinced that it’s because they gave us C of E assemblies every morning in school. That has probably produced more skepticism about religion in Britain than anything else.
I know I was there :-)

4. StevoR says

Which reminds me…where are the American Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough, huh? The world just isn’t fair. On the basis of the population difference alone, we ought to have 10 Dawkins/Attenborough equivalents here.

Well, in fairness you Amercians do have :

1) Isaac Asimov
2) Carl Sagan
3) Neil deGrasse Tyson
4) Phil Plait
5) Rebecca Watson
6) Laci Green
7) Greta Christina
8) Jessica Ahlquist
9) Stephen Jay Gould ..

Oh & last but not least :

10) PZ Myers

To boast of among others!

Plus the UK and US kinda shared Christopher Hitchens as well.

5. robertjudge says

Smart weren’t we to get rid of them way back then

6. mudpuddles says

Reading the public comments on that Guardian article, its clear that the UK still has its fair share of stupid to more than make up for the likes of Sir David and Richard Dawkins.

7. dianne says

Which reminds me…where are the American Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough, huh?

Not to be too much of a fangirl, but have you checked your mirror?

8. kreativekaos says

We do have some people: you(PZM), along with the likes of Barbara Forrest, Eugenie Scott, Harris, and others.

I think, in part, it’s a combo of many things here. We’ve gone so long (the past 30 plus years) without too much in the way of ‘in your face’, strong opposition to the snow-balling of right-wing, ‘EEEEEE-vangelicals’ during 2 terms of Reagan, 3 terms of Bush (I & II) and two terms of Clinton/Gore, who really did not stand up strongly for reason, or against censorship (Tipper Gore and her ‘crusade’ against certain kinds of music).

Because of the shifting focus of socio-political power over the past 3 decades, we’ve sort of dug ourselves a hole from which is difficult to extricate ourselves. ‘Our side’ just doesn’t have the leverage we used to have. ( That’s why The Reason Rally, the Occupy Movement and more, is so important now.)

9. says

I’ve often wondered if our having a state church has actually acted as a kind of brake on the more lunatic fringe. Not sure I could support such an argument, but it’s a thought.

10. Robert Judge:

…maybe when you have over a thousand years of history as a country you will have evolved enough to put away such childish thoughts as a nation.

Tongue-in-cheek as this may be, there’s a kernel of truth in it. The UK and Europe evolved more-secular tendencies after centuries of corrupt and brutal theocracy. I hope it doesn’t take falling to and living under a Dominionist reich to wake most Americans up, but we’re none too good at learning from history.

11. StevoR says

As for the “What’s the matter with the United States?” question itself :

I) The Puritans and their legacy -their influence ha scadts a big shadow and not a good one, methinks.

II) Anti-intellectualism seems stronger in the US for some reason(s) linked with frontier culture and excessive (in many folks eyes) individualism being stressed at the expense of collective co-operation and culture.

III) Poverty being a major factor for a lot of the US population combining with poor educational standards and system and deeply ingrained cultural religiousity ie. religion being a much larger part of most Americans lives than it is in Europe, over here in Oz, in New Zealand /Aotearoa etc ..

Plus no doubt a lot of other factors and general historical and socio-cultural circumstances and context.

Thing is, the USA covers a lot of ground and a lot of people -metaphorically as well as literally.

The United States is or at least was the leader in many scientific and intellectual fields for a long time it was the first to invent the nuclear bomb, the only nation ever to land humans (a dozen of them) on the Moon or fly a reusable spacecraft with people aboard – the now retired Space Shuttles and so much more.

So, whilst it may be slipping somewhat & imperfect, the US of A has a lot right with it as well.

—–

PS. I say all this as an Aussie who likes the USA & its culture and people and has briefly visited once years ago. FWIW.

12. AsqJames says

jamesheartney: The U.S. was founded by religious dissenters, many from what is now the U.K. Essentially they dumped their fundies and we got ‘em.

Reminds me that Stephen Fry (ooh, another one! Is there a US Stephen Fry?) once said essentially the same thing but on South Africa and The Netherlands – the Dutch are all liberal and cool about sex and stuff because they sent all they’re religious nutjobs to South Africa 400 years ago.

Strange how both the Dutch and us Brits seem to be growing a new crop of them lately though.

13. kreativekaos says

@ SteveoR, #4:

Exactly…. good list of more names.

14. StevoR says

D’oh! For clarity :

I) The Puritans and their legacy – their influence has cast a big shadow and not a good one, methinks.

For example the weird over-reaction to the indcident where Janet Jackson had a half-second exposure of part of one of her breasts at a sporting event many years ago – when her male partner ripped her clothing at the end of an act.

It had much the nation frothing at the mouth like she’d committed some bizarre and cruel sex act in public and I’ve never quite understood why. Newsflash : Yes, Virgina, women have breasts. Big deal.

15. This just isn’t right. The United Kingdom is this small little country way off in Europe, and the United States is this giant powerful country, and they managed to put creationists in their place while we debate about electing them to the presidency.

Meh – that’s hardly the case. First off: this is just a funding agreement for a particular brand of school. There are only about 20-30 of them in the UK. About a 1/1000th of the total number of schools.

Secondly, it would be very difficult for an American school to have Federal funding dependent on:

the Academy Trust shall ensure that provision is made for Religious Education to be given to all pupils at the Academy in accordance with the tenets of the specified religion or religious denomination of the Academy;

It also stipulates that the mandated daily worship should be specifically oriented towards the religious denomination of the Academy, if there is one.

Schools ‘of a religious character’ are increasing in number, and they are the perfect place for creationists: Science education is free to be undermined in unregulated RE classes (they can say and do anything there, they are immune from inspections of their work). This is presumably why Muslim schools have unsurprisingly anti-evolution pupils with serious misunderstandings of evolution (and that includes the teachers, as Dawkins’ documentary on faith schools showed).

16. says

Not to be too much of a fangirl, but have you checked your mirror?

PZ doesn’t have a reflection.

17. robertjudge says

Ms Daisy Cutter
I think all countries are like people they have to grow up at their own pace the USoA is a bit like a teenager right now full of ideals and ideas on how things should be and quite vocal in telling everyone( Iraq, Afghanistan etc) the civil war was it’s terrible two’s and the 60’s were it’s adolescence, what we need to learn is that we need to let countries grow up on their own

18. dianne says

The Netherlands – the Dutch are all liberal and cool about sex and stuff because they sent all they’re religious nutjobs to South Africa 400 years ago.

I’m not sure about that. Remember, one reason the Puritans went to the Americas is that in the Netherlands their kids were being exposed to all sorts of religious freedom and not growing up Puritan enough. So they were already a bit more into religious tolerance before they started colonizing S Africa.

Slightly off topic digression: The fact that the Dutch, who were, from all available accounts, reasonably open and tolerant people even “way back”*, were also utterly horrific colonizers (South Africa, Indonesia, etc) is one reason I think that colonization is, innately and inevitably a horror. If the Dutch can’t do it right, who can?

*To an American, the 17th century is a LOOONNNGGG time ago. Stop being snitty about it, Europeans and Asians.

19. StevoR says

Newsflash : Yes, Virgina, women have breasts. Big deal.

Course men do too actually..

That basic human biology /anatomy is made to seem like some huge horrible thing, is just so messed up.

Also the refusal to recognise ourselves as another species of animal.

20. robertjudge says

and just like kids it takes awhile to realise santa (god) doesn’t exist

21. says

Well, we had been fundajellical for many more years before the USA existed. We have been there, done that and got thoroughly bored of it.

There’s also been a certain complacency in the US that the constitution will take care of it. People surely wouldn’t break the law to get what they want after all. We never had that option and we also learned to spot the tactics from what did and didn’t work in the US.

22. dianne says

PZ doesn’t have a reflection.

In that case, he’d best stop playing around on the internet and gather the preliminary data for the study to explain how he manages to change the properties of light in his vicinity. And stop fishing for complements. PZ’s twice the rational atheist that Dawkins could ever hope to be.

23. Dick the Damned says

It ain’t all enlightenment & rationality over this side of the pond. The Government is going all out to encourage religious schools, including take-overs of secular schools.

I’ve been informed that a scandal regarding a school near me is about to hit the media … “a local community has been so badly let down by its sponsors which include the Church of England and also let down by the Tory Administration on Poole Council who would not agree to the Lib Dem stance that the local authority should keep a stake in the Academy.”

The Church of England is trying to become the biggest provider of education in England, but the fundamentalist creationists are also trying to set up more schools to indoctrinate kids with their stupid nonsense.

24. coldthinker says

Perhaps the American way would be taking the gloves off. Your rethuglicans aren’t reasonable, they are batshit crazy. So they should be counterbalanced by an equally crazy force. I think Bill Maher suggested something like that last year.

The middle road between reason and batshit crazy is still pretty crazy. So you go counter-crazy and never more let reason limit your political demands. Mandatory drive-in abortion clinics next to every post office. A warning “This book is a work of fiction and may damage your mental health” printed on the cover of every Bible. Criminalization of driving under the influence of religious delusions. The crucifix to be declared soft core porn. Janeane Garofalo’s face on the 5-dollar bill.

Perhaps after a while reason and sanity would start sounding like the middle road.

25. ltft says

“Where are the American Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough”

I’d argue that we’re a larger, more dispersed, and more isolated people, allowing ignorance space to flourish and organize. Also, many Skeptical/freethought leaders in the US (including, alas! PZ) seem to tend towards the flamboyant and away from the effective.

As others have noted in these comments, PZ is in many ways a Dawkins-equivalent here in the US. As much fun as it is to blame the sheep sometimes you have to look at the shepherd(s).

26. Brownian says

I think the US’ problem is too much sunshine and subtropical climate.

We should trade for a bit, see if that helps.

27. KG says

What’s the matter with the United States?

Excessive income inequality and a weak welfare system. The Christian right is quite correct to link what they call “socialism” – which of course is merely progressive taxation and a strong welfare safety net – and godlessness. Whether the decline in re;ligiosity is reversible when these are removed or weakened remains to be seen, although experience so far in Europe suggests not.

28. says

Didn’t creationism meet some sort of defeat somewhere in Pennsylvania?

I could have sworn that happened. Behe looking the fool, etc.

Well, maybe not.

Glen Davidson

29. says

this discussion is very strange to us scandinavians.
Saying evolution is untrue is like saying the earth is flat.

30. gvlgeologist says

Cross-posted from Scienceblogs:

The problem isn’t that we need a law barring the teaching of creationism in public schools. It’s already illegal to do that, as case after case has shown. The problem is that so many creationists (including teachers, administrators, and parents) here in the US are willing to break that law.

Britain, perhaps because of its small size, apparently has a large enough critical mass to put some teeth into the idea of good science education. Right now, especially as a result of the influence of churches and because of the recent ascendancy of the teaparty in the last election (which hopefully will be rectified in the next), no state or federal legislature has the interest or guts to put in a strong law like the Brits apparently just did.

There’s another point here – from what I glean from the small writeup above, educational money is national in the UK, whereas it is local in the US. This enables a national funding law to have a lot more teeth.

31. kreativekaos says

#24, coldthinker:

Interesting take on initiating action. :)
I’ve often thought of similar ideas as a tactic. Sometimes,… you just have to fight fire WITH fire, to get get real movement.

32. kreativekaos says

@oddbetten, #29:

We’ve got ‘em both here in the states: anti-eveolutinists AND flat-earthers (along with birthers, and a plethora of other ‘colorful’ ideologies)

33. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

Over here it’s kind of funny – bashing Richard Dawkins is something that we see a certain amount of, but if you did the same thing to David Attenborough you’d be practically burned at the stake. There’s a bit of discussion over his pro-climate change views but it’s interesting to see that the challenges have been fairly muted. You do not fuck with The Attenborough.
Thanks to the *ahem* publicly funded BBC, part of who’s remit is education, we have been very lucky to have such a public figure. Heck, I’m 40 and I grew up with David Attenborough on the screen. He has to take credit for the generally high standard of nature programming that we enjoy in the UK.
There’s also not a general perception that education is a bad thing. We have a lot of problems, that is true, but I have yet to see a “talking head” come out with bollocks in the same way as O’Really et al.

34. kreativekaos says

@Glen Davidson, #28:

Probably not defeat,… temporary retreat/regroup. Remember, fighting Creationism/ID is like playing ‘Whack-A-Mole’– knock one down here, and it pops up again over there.

35. Brownian says

Didn’t creationism meet some sort of defeat somewhere in Pennsylvania?

Glen, Glen, Glen—you’re talking history here. There’s probably no subject the American mind considers more useless and unworthy of study (except for maybe geography, languages other than English, and literature that isn’t penned by Stephen King or Danielle Steele).

It twenty years’ time you’ll have a presidential candidate campaigning on the platform that in Dover in 2005, Thomas Jefferson fought Charles Darwin on dinoback and soundly thumped the godless Briton by reading aloud the First Amendment of the Constitution “Thou Shalt Have No Gods Other Than Jesus” and pelting him with Liberty Muffins (formerly known as English Muffins), and therefore the US should nuke Iran again.

36. dianne says

Also, many Skeptical/freethought leaders in the US (including, alas! PZ) seem to tend towards the flamboyant and away from the effective.

As opposed to DAWKINS? Or Hitchens, for that matter?

37. says

In that case, he’d best stop playing around on the internet and gather the preliminary data for the study to explain how he manages to change the properties of light in his vicinity.

It was a joke at the expense of anti-atheist stereotypes. Oddly enough, it wasn’t meant literally.

And stop fishing for complements. PZ’s twice the rational atheist that Dawkins could ever hope to be.

I fail to see how either sentence relates in any way to what I wrote.

38. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

I wonder whether approximately a national curriculum and unionised teaching has something to do with the general lack of creation teaching in the UK…?

39. dianne says

It was a joke at the expense of anti-atheist stereotypes. Oddly enough, it wasn’t meant literally.

And you thought my response was? Maybe it was too much of an academic in joke. Or my ability to write humor sucks. Or both.

40. says

#24

I think I love you, and I don’t even care what gender you are.

41. chriskg says

PZ,

Who is the American Richard Dawkins? You, PZ. You are!

‘Nough said. Now get to work.

Chris

42. grumpyoldfart says

The basic problem remains: millions of children stuck in religious schools, getting thoroughly brainwashed and turned into good little tithe payers.

The children may no longer learn about Creationism, but they’ll still leave their religious schools thinking that Jesus walked on water and atheists are immoral bastards.

43. kreativekaos says

Brownian, @36:

Just to add to your comment; it’s not just disinterest or lack of knowledge of history (though you’re basically correct on that). It’s also media coverage and public awareness of current events, which gets filtered through the major news machines. With a subject like the Dover trial, if one wanted to get a good offering of info about it, you’d need to seek out and avail oneself or sources of good coverage. Our ‘nightly news’ coverage of certain subjects like the Dover trial, is usually lacking at best– like how the papers sometimes bury potentially important news items in the back pages, rather than making the front page.

44. dianne says

The crucifix to be declared soft core porn.

Soft core?

45. consciousness razor says

Could there be such a thing as being too exceptional? Because if anything, that’s what’s wrong with the United States.

46. donaldharris says

“Even Richard Dawkins one day will bow the knee to God. Let’s pray he bows the knee to God in this life.

Such reports as above just fire me up even more to defend the faith and equip ‘soldiers’ in this massive spiritual war going on around us as we proclaim the truth of God’s Word and the gospel.”

-Ken Ham’s Response to the above news.

I find this highly disturbing.

47. says

“Thou Shalt Have No Gods Other Than Jesus” and pelting him with Liberty Muffins (formerly known as English Muffins), and therefore the US should nuke Iran again.

Don’t forget those freedom fries that you built the Berlin wall out of and thats why stalin went into space.

48. Brownian says

It’s also media coverage and public awareness of current events, which gets filtered through the major news machines.

I’m not going to disagree with that, but the US isn’t the only country that has media coverage and news machines. Other nations seem to accept the existence of media outlets that don’t provide 100% Kardashian coverage.

Hell, the conservatrons tried to force us to have a Fox News-type channel up here that would be mandatory for digital cable and satellite subscribers. We said no, and now you gotta pay special if you want to hear the Canadian version of Billo rant about why minimum wage is a towelhead plot.

49. nooneinparticular says

Wait. Have I missed the repeal of a constitutional amendment or something? I knew I shouldn’t have slept in.

And “we” are not debating about electing one for president. Some of us are. Though having changed the constitution while I was asleep certainly makes their potential election a bit more troublesome.

50. Brownian says

Don’t forget those freedom fries that you built the Berlin wall out of and thats why stalin went into space.

Not me, man. If anything, we Canadians decided French fries weren’t French enough.

51. KG says

Heck, I’m 40 and I grew up with David Attenborough on the screen. – Hairy Chris

I’m 57 and I grew up with David Attenborough on the screen. I also grew up without a national curriculum (per your #39), and even attended (until I managed to escape) a school “for the sons of missionaries” (my parents were not missionaries), and still didn’t get any creationist bullshit.

52. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

Kardashian

I had to look this up… mind you, I never watch reality shows :D

53. Antiochus Epiphanes says

An American Richard Dawkins? I thought Dawkins was a British Stephen J. Gould ;)

Also, technically, Hitch was ours. If we have to claim Ham, we get Hitch too.

I think the more damning question, is who is the American Rolling Stones? Why didn’t we get like, 10 of those?

54. says

America still beats us in many respects, such as the excellent Jefferson/Madison constitution which guarantees separation of church and state. We might be stamping out creationism in our schools, but the faith schools menace remains, more open every year and right now it is a free-for-all between the Church of England, the Catholics and the Muslims.

Also we’ve got problems with Sharia law and the awful treatment of women. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16522447

55. w00dview says

Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc

You do not fuck with The Attenborough.

This is very true. Even the right wing hacks at the Daily Mail respect Attenborough despite their hatred for the BBC. Likewise whilst climate change deniers openly ridicule and spread lies and bullshit about Al Gore they would not be able to get away with that crap with Sir David. In fact, whenever I read comments about climate change and Attenborough, deniers merely express slight dissapointment for the most part rather than paranoid batshittery.

56. w00dview says

By the way how do you properly quote others? I can never figure out how to use the blockquotes properly.

57. says

I think the more damning question, is who is the American Rolling Stones?

Muddy Waters.

58. says

Remember, fighting Creationism/ID is like playing ‘Whack-A-Mole’– knock one down here, and it pops up again over there.

Given the creationists’ propensity for bringing up the same arguments repeatedly after they’ve been refuted, I’ve always thought that it’s more like playing “Whack-A-Mole” where the damn mole just pops up in the same place every time. Pop-whack-pop-whack-pop-whack. Boring.
Killed By Fish

59. says

w00dview

<blockquote>Quote goes here.</blockquote>

60. tomh says

@ #43

The basic problem remains: millions of children stuck in religious schools, getting thoroughly brainwashed and turned into good little tithe payers.

You can add to that total about 90% of the several million homeschooled kids in the US.

61. Brownian says

I had to look this up… mind you, I never watch reality shows :D

My GF™ keeps me abrest of such men and women of the people. My role is to be the one who recognises nobodies like Brian Greene and Jonathan Schmock (the snooty maître d’ from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) when they cameo on TBBT.

The closest I ever got to regularly watching reality television was Iron Chef (the overdubbed Japanese version). If I’m gonna watch somebody on the screen, they better be at least a semi-trained professional, dammit. If I wanted to watch ‘normal’ people make asses of themselves in public, I’d have spent more time with my folks. I did watch one episode of the first American Survivor, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread and foreboding (much like the feeling I got when Dad got the bill and I noticed the server forgot the Entertainment® Book coupon discount). I knew then and there that I didn’t believe in God, but I believed in Satan, and his name was Mark Burnett.

On occasion, I do enjoy watching Gordon Ramsay yell at somebody, though. It’s kind of like reading Pharyngula, where creationism has been replaced with overcooked risotto.

62. Brownian says

I think the more damning question, is who is the American Rolling Stones?

“Honky Tonk Women” is quite enough of that, thankyouverymuch.

63. iiandyiiii says

Already mentioned a bit, but one big difference is the role and stature with public educational television- there are lots of well funded public science programs in Britain, and they get lots of viewers- I imagine the percentage of British kids who know who Attenborough is (or at least recognize his face as the “biology guy” or “scientist guy” on tv) is a lot higher than the percentage of American kids who can identify and scientist on tv (who’s the most well known- Neill Degrasse Tyson, perhaps?).

If PBS were as big a part of American TV as the BBC is for British, perhaps we would be heading in the right direction.

64. says

I’m rather distressed that creationists have got enough of a foothold in parts of UK education that such a regulation is needed.

65. Brownian says

who’s the most well known- Neill Degrasse Tyson, perhaps?

Ron Popeil.

66. QueQuoiHuh says

@Brownian #36 & #67

Now I see why this damn queue is so long.

67. says

The American Rolling Stones? Easy: Neil Young, Rush, Bryan Adams, Nickelback, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Barenaked Ladies, and Arcade Fire.

68. Serendipitydawg (Physicists are such a pain sometimes) says

@pdurrant,

Sadly, there are more than you would think. The academies allowed carte blanche with the curriculum and when Reg bought his three, there were only about 20 or 30. There are a lot more now, though some maintain decent curricula and have just taken the route that the free schools are wanting (basically control of their own budgets.)

I am pleased to see that our local New Options school is geared towards ADHD and autistic support, at least according to their website… the last time I looked, it definitely had a fundie xian look and feel (though this was before it became part of the New Options group.)

69. chigau (同じ) says

PZ’s twice the rational atheist that Dawkins could ever hope to be.

Now I want to see them arm-wrestle.
Or mud.

70. jaranath says

I’m thrilled of course, but I can imagine some people having a field day with the idea that we want to ban “evidence-based views or theories” that run “contrary to established scientific and/or historical evidence and explanations”. I know what they mean, but that wording’s unfortunate.

71. Emrysmyrddin says

‘Nickleback’?!

*starts to involuntarily projectile-vomit*

No wonder you lot went crazy over the ‘British Invasion’. Wow-ee.

72. says

73. Gregory Greenwood says

The United Kingdom is this small little country way off in Europe, and the United States is this giant powerful country, and they managed to put creationists in their place while we debate about electing them to the presidency. It makes no sense.

For all our small size we still have a surprisingly large number of fundie morons running around, they just don’t hold any real political power like they do in the US. Over here, they are mostly pittied as being, to use the stereotypical British gift for understatement, ‘rather odd’.

Which reminds me…where are the American Richard Dawkins and David Attenborough, huh? The world just isn’t fair.

The US has plenty of highly capable advocates for rationalism such as (not wishing to be unduly sycophantic) yourself.

In any case, Sir David Attenborough and professor Richard Dawkins strike me as being ‘citizen of the world’ type of chaps – you can always borrow them if you want a bit of extra discursive firepower with which to blow creationists out of the metaphorical water.

Who knows, maybe the colonies the US will catch up with old Blighty and institute its own laws banning pseudoscience in the classroom at some point over the next few years (or maybe decades) if you can manage to keep the crazier Republicans out of the White House for a while.

74. says

Nobody caught my joke yet.

PZ you forgot “The Band”

The deputy Prime Minister in the UK is Nick Clegg who says the he does not believe in God (even though he sold his soul to the devil). There is no way that in the US a VP could be selected who did not believe in God.

76. w00dview says

Quote goes here.

Just previewed it and it works. Great! Thanks a million, Daz!

77. says

Doh!

w00dview

78. QueQuoiHuh says

PZ @76

79. w00dview says

Oh and as regards to who is the American Dawkins/Attenborough I would put Carl Sagan, E.O Wilson, Neil degrasse Tyson, Phil Plait and yourself, PZ. When I became an atheist, I read the God Delusion which was my gateway drug to atheism and skepticism. Then I shortly stumbled onto Pharyngula shortly after and have been a regular reader for over 5 years. So to say you and Dawkins were a influence on me is an understatement. Looking forward to the book when it comes out!

80. Brownian says

PZ you forgot “The Band”

And half of the original line-up of Steppenwolf.

81. says

I knew you guys would double-down on me.

I also forgot Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah Maclachlan, and Celine Dion.

82. says

And half of the original line-up of Steppenwolf.

Including the immortal Mars Bonfire.

Mars Bonfire!

83. ChasCPeterson says

…and Joni Mitchell, but the comparator was the Stones.
hmmmmm

84. Rey Fox says

That may be, but I still don’t get why Nickelback and The Arcade Fire are in the same sentence.

85. Ichthyic says

I’m rather distressed that creationists have got enough of a foothold in parts of UK education that such a regulation is needed.

*DING*

and that, my friends, is what should be the REAL story here.

…because the idjuts ain’t goin’ away, just because the gov’t says they can’t teach nonsense in public schools.

duh, that’s what the gov’t says even in the US.

don’t think for one second that the UK does not have a problem with creationists eroding away at science education, simply because of this latest ruling.

This is no cause for relaxing your vigil. These fuckers will gnaw away at your foundations while you celebrate.

86. Ichthyic says

I also forgot Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah Maclachlan, and Celine Dion.

??

don’t forget Donnie and Marie!

and how ’bout that Partridge Family!

87. interrobang says

I also forgot Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah Maclachlan, and Celine Dion.

If you’re going to include Celine Dion, at least include Mitsou too. And the Dayglo Abortions, DOA, and Front Line Assembly.

I thought the American analogue to the Rolling Stones was Aerosmith — both have lead singers who make your eyes bleed, both have been around basically forever and won’t retire already dammit, both record dudebro kind of hard rock…

Meh. Where’s Geeshie Wiley when you really need her?

88. nooneinparticular says

American “Rolling Stones”? That’s easy. The Ramones. Or the Beastie Boys. Take your pick.

89. says

This just isn’t right. The United Kingdom is this small little country way off in Europe, and the United States is this giant powerful country, and they managed to put creationists in their place while we debate about electing them to the presidency. It makes no sense.

Let me help you. More land = more people = more nuts = enough nuts to convince gullible and stupid people that there is something there worth listening to. That is all there is to it, unfortunately. Well, that and the fact that the same nuts have convinced way too many people that their wacko ideas need to be “respected”, or at least not laughed at in public, for fear that confused people, who think they believe something similar, might get offended.

90. Brownian says

And the Dayglo Abortions, DOA, and Front Line Assembly.

SNFU belongs in that list.

91. Brownian says

And the biggest Canadian band the US has never heard of, The Tragically Hip.

92. chriskg says

@Brownian

Or 54:40. Hootie and the Blowfish made the 54:40 song, I Go Blind, popular everywhere. The original is much, much better.

They are relatively unknown here.

C.

93. NitricAcid says

Brownian- not all Canadians decided that “French fries” weren’t French enough- in restaurants in Calgary, they were renamed Freedom Fries.

94. Pan says

The United Kingdom is this small little country way off in next to Europe

FTFY

[…]while we debate about electing them to the presidency. It makes no sense.

Exactly. I’m always taken aback that you can be a creationist and an accepted member of a discussion.
At least, our lunatics still have to veil their stupidity a little better. Can stay this way.

95. Ichthyic says

More land = more people = more nuts = enough nuts to convince gullible and stupid people that there is something there worth listening to. That is all there is to it, unfortunately.

agreed. I came to the same conclusion about 10 years ago.

…and finally decided to test that theory by moving to New Zealand.

Oh, there are nuts here too, and enough of a percentage to be significant, but the ABSOLUTE numbers of them are too small to have any impact on politics or legislation any more (they did, once upon a time when they were the majority).

so…

So far, seems to support the contention that absolute numbers matter.

self proclaimed extreme evangelicals are a minority in the US, like they are here.

…but there are still 30 MILLION of them in the US.

that’s over 7 times the entire population of this place.

It does seem to make a difference.

there is no sense of religious privilege here. Atheists are not a despised minority.

small is good.

96. says

At least, our lunatics still have to veil their stupidity a little better.

Have you not seen Christian Voice?

97. Emrysmyrddin says

Philip Greene. Now there’s a guy that should be seated in front of a never ending Nickleback performance with his eyes wired open…

98. Gregory Greenwood says

Daz @ 98;

Have you not seen Christian Voice?

Fortunately, those evangelical bigots don’t have the media profile or political power they pretend to possess anywhere outside their own, sick little christo-fascist fantasies.

99. says

Emrysmyrddin

You mean Stephen ‘Birdshit’ Green? I wouldn’t wish that, even on Nickleback…

Gregory Greenwood

True, though Birdshit does turn up as a talking head on slow news days now ‘n’ then.

100. Brownian says

The original is much, much better.

Yes, but strangely, it’s neither the best 54•40 nor H&tB song.

Brownian- not all Canadians decided that “French fries” weren’t French enough- in restaurants in Calgary, they were renamed Freedom Fries.

Are you shitting me? Is that because Calgary never saw an American asshole it didn’t want to get right up in there and lick?

I know you’re all rich and soft and high on oil money, but show some fucking backbone, Cowtown.

101. mrjonno says

If you fall on your luck in the US you had better hope god or the church will look after you as the welfare state won’t

UK education is far from perfect but what ever kid remembers is sex and violence. The state church was formed because Henry VIII wanted to get his leg over and while routine witch/catholic/protestant burning is very exciting just about everyone knows this is generally a very bad thing.

Geography ,its absolutely impossible to live with your ‘own kind’ in the UK due to our size. It doesnt matter where you live you will be within a couple of miles of rich/poor/muslims/christians/atheists. Having to live with people different to you forces compromise/moderation.

Church of England being a state church has to represent everyone and as we known from politics if you try to be everything to everyone you end up doing very little.

Social ettiquete in the UK is that is generally very rude to talk about religion in polite company. Down the pub of course is not so polite

102. donny5 says

@50

That Fox New North (called Sun TV) was so popular that it went bankrupt in the less than a year as is off the air. So much for Preston Manning.

And yeah, Calgary is high on oil money and it is about to get higher if the Consersatives get their way.

The way I think of this situation with the U.S. is that the fundies know that religion is slipping away. If they don’t take total control, they could lose out, which is why they are vehement about it. 30 years ago, did any politcian ever need to show that they were religious? American society is moving away from them, but they have a lot of money to push their fundamentalist ideology onto the public and are determined to keep people poor an ignorant.

103. Emrysmyrddin says

You mean Stephen ‘Birdshit’ Green? I wouldn’t wish that, even on Nickleback…

That’s the bleeder! Nasssty little goblin wife beater.

104. Ant Allan says

And we have Professor Brian Cox!

/@

105. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

Brownian:

think the US’ problem is too much sunshine and subtropical climate.

What? “Subtropical”? It was fucking -2 fucking ° when I woke up this morning!

Oh wait. The South. Yeah… I see what you’re saying.

106. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

I imagine the percentage of British kids who know who Attenborough is (or at least recognize his face as the “biology guy” or “scientist guy” on tv) is a lot higher than the percentage of American kids who can identify and scientist on tv (who’s the most well known- Neill Degrasse Tyson, perhaps?).

You know, it kind of saddens me that there’s no Bill Nye the Science Guy* for kids these days. Even though he was on PBS, every-fucking-one watched that show.

*I know he’s still around, but it’s not like he’s doing the show anymore.

107. Brownian says

It was fucking -2 fucking ° when I woke up this morning!

Pfft. Had that yesterday. I spent the day outside, roofing (more specifically, demolishing a roof.)

Practically a summer’s breeze.

108. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

Brownian:

So you’re to blame! *shakes fist!*

109. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

Me:

It was fucking -2 fucking ° when I woke up this morning!

Wait, I was talking about Fahrenheit– that would be -19°C. -2°C is nothing.

110. Ichthyic says

Practically a summer’s breeze

I was just walking downtown here in Hobbitton.

Beautiful sunny day.

18C.

slight breeze from the NW.

111. Ichthyic says

it kind of saddens me that there’s no Bill Nye the Science Guy

actually, thinking about DeGrasse Tyson, I’ve noticed he has his own series catering to kids and adults that’s a NOVA spinoff.

saw an episode the other day on developing long-range space tech and pulse rockets.

he’s great!

112. Brownian says

Wait, I was talking about Fahrenheit– that would be -19°C.

I know. Like I said, we had that yesterday—roofing weather.

113. Weed Monkey says

Damn the Fahrenheits! Most imperial units can be converted to SI with simple multiplication, but some weird stuff stays. I figured wind speed (mph) can be converted by multiplying with .45 (m/s) and it’s close enough (it’s not like those measurements are exact anyway), but temperatures and fuel consumption aren’t so easy. I know -40 is absomafuckinglutely cold in both scales.

114. Brownian says

Damn the Fahrenheits! Most imperial units can be converted to SI with simple multiplication, but some weird stuff stays.

$C=\frac{5(F-32)}{9}$

$F=32 + \frac{9C}{5}\$

</excuse to use LaTeX>

115. says

This was terrific news.

I would love to see the day when America does the same thing.

It would be a beacon of hope for the rest of the world.

Well the sane part anyway.

116. Weed Monkey says

Shiny. :)

117. Nemo says

UK population is ~60 million, US ~300 million. That’s 5:1, not 10:1.

118. crocswsocks says

The American Richard Dawkins… that would be you, PZ. As for Attenborough… Neil deGrasse Tyson, maybe?

119. wanstronian says

Don’t forget we’ve got an unelected f*cking idiot of a prime minister, who recently declared that Britain is “a Christian Nation,” thereby demonstrating that he hasn’t got a clue about his demographic (less than 5% of UK citizens attend church regularly, and less than 20% self-identify as Christians).

You may have the lion’s share of wingnut politicians, but at least you’ve got the First Amendment… for now at least.

120. roger says

We seem to be very lucky in the UK in that, though we do have our selection of Fundie nutters (Stephen ‘Birdshit’ Green stand up and be counted), they are seen as figuress of fun rather than authority. It helps, I think, that the vast majority of our comedians are atheistic, or at least secularists (I can only think of two comics who are openly religiious – Frank Skinner and Milton Jones – and they both keep their religion out of their comedy), so the fundementalists are readily shot down by comedy shows on a regular basis.

Add to that the fact that we do, as has alreday been alluded to here, have some of the great science advocates on our TVs (David Attenborough is seen as one of the great national treasures – Brian Cox is well on the way to that status too), and our mainstream TV is heavily, thought not toally, pro-rationalism. So although we do have a national religion, and a religious leader, Britain as a nation is more secular than anything else – thankfully. (all this is IMHO)

Rog

121. olangesh says

While the UK is lucky in this respect, we still have many anachronisms despite the majority of the population being non-religeous.

There are cumpuslory assemblies for our schools, as well as many church affiliated schools which use this time to preach. Furthermore we do not have a proper constitution, with an unelected Christian monarchy allowing unlimited legislative power, as well as an unelected 2nd chamber, which includes several bishops.

122. Hairy Chris, blah blah blah etc says

Another UK TV legend: Patrick Moore. Not as prevalent as Attenborough but he’s the longest serving host of a single programme on TV, The Sky At Night. So we have astrophysics & biology covered!
I definitely agree with the other posters that there are issues here. In a lot of ways the existence of a state religion (not that I am a fan, mind you) has pulled some of the teeth of the fundies as they’re an enforced minority. I still object to paying my taxes to support the CofE though.

123. pj says

Amazing that no one has chimed in with this yet: St. Bob

American Rolling Stones indeed…poopyheads, the lot of you!

124. Dr. Audley Z. Darkheart, liar and scoundrel says

Well, crap, Brownian. You are made of stronger stuff than I.

125. KG says

less than 5% of UK citizens attend church regularly, and less than 20% self-identify as Christians – wanstronian

The second of these claims is not remotely near the truth. In the 2001 census (results for the 2011 census have not yet been published), 72% self-identified as Christian. How can anyone get such a simple fact so wrong?

126. jimmaughan says

Maybe if you affected a plummy accent, strapped on an ascot and stopped calling assholes asshole…..

Fuck it.

127. jimmaughan says

BTW, there is no ‘Merkin Stones. The Stones fed lily-white American society the blues music it had been studiously avoiding. They allowed guys like Johnny Winter thrive and he was able to help bring actual black blues artists to the prominence they deserved.

I think a lot of this thread exposes the problem that the Gnus share with early feminist movement. Too white and too middle class.

128. DLC says

f= 9/5(c+32); solve for C.

129. Brownian says

Sorry Audley. We have to live in this shit; it’s the barest of consolations to be able to brag that it makes us tough.

It’s -30°C (-22°F) today and my manager has the audacity to say “Oh, it’s not that cold—if you’re dressed for it.” She always seems a bit disappointed in the younger generation that we’re not scaling mountains while simultaneously revising dissertations and baking soufflés.

130. Brownian says

Amazing that no one has chimed in with this yet: St. Bob

True. Who’s the British Dylan?

(Thomas of Swansea doesn’t count, smartasses.)

131. Daz #59 and Jimmaughan #135 FTW.

Some of the responses here remind me of music conversations with dudebros in which someone mentions the blues and there’s a roar of, “YEAAAHHH, STEVIE RAY!!!” Or Eric Clapton. Never Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Elmore James, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Alberta Hunter, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Memphis Minnie, Wynonie Harris, Pinetop Perkins, Big Joe Turner, Honeyboy Edwards, Albert King……….

Props to ‘Bang for mentioning Geeshie Wiley.

Donny5, #105: It’s not simply that atheism (and non-xtian religions too) have made gains. It’s also that the fundies never used to involve themselves in politics: They were “in this world but not of it.” The conservatives who began planning in the 1970s to retake political power in the U.S. deliberately courted fundies, who were both obedient to authority and appalled by the recent waves of civil rights activism and legislation. After more than three decades of tasting power they’re absolutely drunk on it.

Audley, #114: Indeed.

132. Matt Penfold says

True. Who’s the British Dylan?

Richard Thompson.

Easy one that!

133. says

Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, Elmore James, Skip James, Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Alberta Hunter, Big Bill Broonzy, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Memphis Minnie, Wynonie Harris, Pinetop Perkins, Big Joe Turner, Honeyboy Edwards, Albert King……….

Man, that could be my dream concert.

Washboard Sam, Wynonie Harris, Big Mama Thornton…

134. davem says

The second of these claims is not remotely near the truth. In the 2001 census (results for the 2011 census have not yet been published), 72% self-identified as Christian. How can anyone get such a simple fact so wrong?

Because it’s the (real) truth. Last time I was in a court, all the witnesses except me swore on the bible. I know that all of them are atheists. It’s just cultural baggage not yet left behind. What makes our nation ‘Christian’ is forced religion in schools – it makes atheists of most of us, even if we won’t admit it, and we still call ourselves ‘Christian’ when we aren’t. What people fill in on forms and what they actually believe, are two entirely different kettles of fish. If you ask us if we believe in God, you’ll get a ‘no’ much more often than a ‘yes’. A 5% church attendance seems way over the average to me; but then I don’t live in a big city, where the immigrant population is mostly based, and is far more religious.

135. dcg1 says