An autocatalytic negative feedback loop in the Republican party

The Republican attitude towards education is taking an abrupt plunge, which is both unsurprising and unfortunate.

It’s unsurprising because Republicans have been the anti-education party for as long as I’ve been alive — this is what they do, hatin’ on those damned hippie elitists and their uppity airs, and also, as the Republican party fuses with the religious right, they figure going to college is the fast track to atheism and ultimately, hell fire. So they rail against education, and now it’s reached the point where it is going down faster than ever: They rage against education, so when they don’t do well in college they blame the institution, so they rage further, fueling more disaffection, leading to poorer performance, und so weiter. Students improve when they see a path to correcting their own deficiencies; they do more poorly when they find an irrelevant scapegoat. And Republicans are all about the scapegoating.

It’s unfortunate because this is the 21st century and a technological society that depends on maintaining an edge in their beloved capitalist competition with the rest of the world, and they’re going to throw it all away out of spite and ignorance. But then, the Republican have become the party of spite and ignorance ever since Saint Reagan. They’re going to tear it all down for the rest of us, too.


  1. unclefrogy says

    is this not ultimately the result of the self destructive impulses of conservative followers of authority.
    I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine about science education. He said you did not need to study any science yourself you could just hire some scientists instead.
    I pointed out to him if you did not study any science you would not know when you needed science nor be able to evaluate any science advice you received.
    he still stuck to his opinion even when I pointed out there was no reason that someone else would not hire the scientists or that they would not run their own businesses and just sell the results and there by keep all the profits themselves.
    The cost of education is becoming a negative drag on individuals while it still has a major positive impact on society as a whole. It is hard to know what the pole demonstrates but it is clear once again that the conservative knee-jerk reaction is not helpful nor is it meant to be.
    uncle frogy

  2. Rich Woods says

    They’re going to tear it all down for the rest of us, too.

    But don’t you see? As long as you suffer, it will all be worthwhile! Better a thousand go without education than one abuses it to attack the forces of Godliness and Righteousness.

    Can you give me a hallelujah, brother?

  3. multitool says

    That’s a positive feedback loop. Positive loops tend to have negative consequences, they go runaway.

    Negative loops create stability.

  4. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    He said you did not need to study any science yourself you could just hire some scientists instead.

    Reminds me of hearing of engineering students saying there would be secretaries to correct their grammar in the 80’s. Never mind the PC revolution had started, and departmental secretaries were on the way out, and any grammar mistakes would make it the food chain to their detriment.
    It has always been those know the the most on a variety of topics that do the best. Otherwise, they have to pay consultants like me, say $1000/hr for my expertise. Stupid, when you could have learned something back in college….

  5. gijoel says

    But all those prosperity gospel evangelists will get richer, and that wealth will all trickle down to us. Right, right?

  6. jrkrideau says

    Countries like China and India must be laughing their heads off as they open the champagne bottles.

    I would not worry about Russian interference with the election; worry about how the Chinese influenced Trump’s choice for Secretary of Eduction, or whatever the title is.

  7. grumpyoldfart says

    I have this vision of uneducated American children in the future, diving off the docks to retrieve coins thrown into the water by passengers on visiting tourist ships.

  8. secondtofirstworld says

    I hate to be that guy, but I disagree with pinning this solely on the religious right. Countless comments thriving on the “honorable distinction” of being anti-SJW recite colleges as hotbeds for people who “complain about everything instead of preparing for the real world. Many of them on atheistic and skeptical channels, as spoken by atheists.

    Personally it doesn’t surprise me, because the interpretation of religion always hinges on a preexisting culture. This is something you Mr. Myers confirmed by pointing out that missionaries asked to allow using beer instead of wine among Vikings. The ignorance, which does feed Evangelicals, comes from the American culture, not the other way around. Family Guy can joke around the NFL canceling out voices with spectacular shows to divert people’s attention from the dangers of concussions, and how smart helmets don’t really help much. It’s funny because it’s true, that not much will change. Conservatives decry any form of socialism, yet teams can blackmail cities into building stadiums on their own money, or they leave, and it’s not seen as a handout.

    When in the late 1920’s the trial on evolution was held, the verdict was pretty clear. This is why it’s the EU that specifies such ideas like creationism as pseudoscience, and thus are banned. Despite the trial having been in America, it’s legal in homeschooling to use a “liberal approach to facts”, so it’s no wonder, 3 out 4 home schooled kids are Evangelical who learn things based on the Bible. It’s legal to be a so called Christian scientist who can decide what a fact is based on deeply held (and untestable) beliefs.

    This is why I refuse to call America secular. If it were, laws could not be based on beliefs, nor derived from it. In my strict personal opinion, social media atheism became toxic (besides the obvious fame) is because they realized, talking about hard hitting issues affecting people does not sway them to act and stop it, so they joined the fray. If by a magical wand, every televangelist would become atheist tomorrow, not much would change, as helping the less fortunate is seen weak in the culture. Nikki Haley may say, that Russia can’t be trusted, but she’d be caught dead before she’d admit, the countries aren’t that much alike.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    secondtofirstworld @ # 10: When in the late 1920’s the trial on evolution was held, the verdict was pretty clear.

    As a matter of pedantic detail, the Scopes trial ended rather inconclusively.

    The jury found the defendant guilty of violating the law against teaching evolution – just as he and his defense team had hoped, so they could appeal to higher courts having authority to overturn that law.

    Then the judge assessed a fine – and that gave the Tennessee Supreme Court their opportunity, which they took, to throw out the whole case on the technicality that the jury had the responsibility of setting the penalty. So, the pro-science crew lost their chance to fight the law itself (it remained on the books for several decades more), the overwrought drama of the trial discouraged others from repeating the attempt, and the legal battle against creationism in public schools in the US didn’t revive until the 1960s.

  10. robro says

    Republicans aren’t anti-education. They firmly believe in the right of rich people to a private education at the finest institutions. For the rest of us, Bible school is sufficient which you can get at your local church. Maybe a trade school, if you can afford it.

  11. WhiteHatLurker says

    That’s okay, your new bestest friends in the Soviet Union, unh Russian Federation will help you with the difficult bits that you didn’t learn without an education, like Machiavelli and history and the details of running your country.

    “Yes, tovarishch, USA is good country, no, is great country! Trump has made US great again. Here, let me help you with that. It requires thinking.”


    Anyway, what’s reeeally scary about this is the faith that members of both parties put in churches. I think that shows more how screwed you folks really are.

  12. Pablo Campos says

    Of course republicans dislike education, they know that if you get intelligent you’re notice how stupid their policies and mind set are. Ignorance keeps them in business.

  13. emergence says

    As a college student in California, I can only hope that our comparatively progressive legislature shields our university systems from DeVos’s influence.

  14. numerobis says


    what’s reeeally scary about this is the faith that members of both parties put in churches

    That’s not so terrifying to me. A church is a social club, and reflects the attitudes of its members (which is self-reinforcing: members will switch churches if their attitudes are too far out of sync from those of their church). Liberals tend to more liberal churches, authoritarians to more authoritarian churches.

    You need to profess belief in a higher power to be really trusted as a member, but what that higher power wants strongly reflects what the members want.

  15. magistramarla says

    I remember being a bit surprised when I first encountered this attitude when we moved to Texas.
    The thing is, the people here (especially the public school administrations) are solidly against trade schools too.
    It seems to be an over-reaction to what happened in the past – brown and black kids were funneled into the trades classes in the high schools without being encouraged to try the college prep courses. Most of those trades classes were phased out and ALL students were put into college-bound classes.
    When I was teaching, I dealt with really smart and capable kids who were being told at home that college wasn’t necessary, as well as kids who weren’t interested in those college prep courses because their dreams were to take over Dad’s plumbing business or Tia’s bakery shop.

  16. zetopan says

    And that super dim bulb “I’m like a smart person” Trumpelstiltskin has publically stated that he loves the uneducated. The uneducated have a lot of trouble recognizing even an “obvious” grafter, could there be a causal link there?

  17. zetopan says

    “grafter” ==> “grifter”. Autocorrect even changed my correction, so I had to do it twice.