Political divide on evolution grows

The political divide on evolution has grown over the last few years. Which, given the increasingly hard right turn of the GOP, where thigns like science or expertise are now held in contempt except when they pledge complete fealty to the party line, should not be a surprise:

USA Today — Do you “believe” in evolution? A new survey reveals that your answer can be predicted in large part by your political loyalties. The Pew Research Center finds that two-thirds of Democrats accept the validity of evolution, in contrast with the 43% of Republicans. The latter figure, remarkably, has shrunk by 11 percentage points since 2009, when Pew performed a similar survey. … As a progressive, I’m tempted to blame willful ignorance by those on the “other side” when I see the sharp rise in Republicans rejecting evolution, and the always-high percentage of white evangelical Protestants (64% in the Pew poll) who believe that humans were created by God in their present form; i.e. no evolution.

I actually think it’s simpler than that. People who care about science or who are well informed are leaving the GOP and landing as independents or democrats. And on an unrelated note, we’re no longer allowed to embed links on this site using the link widget.

I have no idea why, but there’s no point in complaining. Past experience on muiltiple sites and software packages has taught me that no ones knows the answer. If I bring it up, the inevitable response will be somewhere between “I don’t know” and “It’s working fine for me.” But it’s not working for me, I’m having trouble just putting images in, let alone using the link widget. Fortunately, being old school I can just use the old ‘a href’ tag.

A couple of times over the weekend I couldn’t post at all. Just another example of how mediocre our technology really is, how failure is accepted among some folks — and by folks I mean web developers, that industry gets away with fuck ups no other profession is allowed to get away with  — while the tiniest screw in other fields, especially among the lowest paid and least influential workers within them, is grounds for harsh penalties or dismissal, and how just trying to figure out who to go to and ask for it to be fixed has to be a giant mystery. And before anyone gets all defensive, you don’t have to convince me where the breakdown is, it involves money and your bosses who don’t want to pay what it actually costs for things to work when they can squeeze by with stuff that kinda works sometimes for so much less.

The way one developer explained it it to me was doing something very well costs more than doing it half ass, and in a network, where many things have to work together, it only takes one developer doing it half ass to make it look like everyone else is doing it half ass, so there’s no point in being the one who does it right and little penalty for being the one who does it lousy.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    So if we postulate that the “intelligent designer” is actually a network of developers, does that explain our physical anomalies better than Darwin does?

  2. Dunc says

    I often find myself evaluating other people’s code, and I’m pretty much always appalled. Not with my own colleagues you understand – we’ve developed an ethos of quality which has served us very well, thanks – but when clients say to us “we have this old system developed by [blank], but we’re not really happy with it / them, can you have a look at it?” then I know to brace myself for a combination of hilarity and horror. It’s absolutely shocking what people can apparently get away with, and more to the point, what they seem to be happy to put their names too. Apparently professional pride is very much out of fashion these days…

    The thing is, doing it half-assed is only cheap if you’re going to walk away once it’s done, and you don’t mind being bad-mouthed by your (former) client. If you’re going to have to keep supporting something, it’s very definitely a false economy – you’re going to end up spending far more time / money in maintenance, and you’re going to piss off your clients. On the other hand, if you take the trouble to do things properly, then your clients (who are acclimated to project failure, to the point where learned helplessness has usually set in long ago) are going to love you for it. They’ll come back again and again, and they’ll tell their friends.

  3. says

    Dunc, I know what you mean, years ago I worked at a contact center that used an ancient, DOS like system for generating shift reports. It looked like DOS looks, black screen, white text, very plain. There was one poor shmuck who’s entire job all day long was to put that info into spread sheets for accounting and management to dig through, this stuff wouldn’t import. We also used AMCAT, a slightly newer system for generating reports which had some advantages over the DOS thing but was still very basic.

    The thing is though both DOS and AMCAT were robust and consistent, they never crashed and comparing data from one team to another was easy. Along came a great salesman with a system that looked much prettier on the front end. But we soon found it crashed all the time, which was a real problem, if shift reports don’t get turned in on time we can’t bill the client or accurately pay the rep on schedule, work builds up, one week you have frantic time paying lots of OT trying to catch up, the next week you have people sitting at their desks twiddling their thumbs, just to name a few issues.

    We eventually hired a hi dollar analyst and when she got inside that code she was literally laughing out loud. It was as you say, a monstrosity, like something you would get if you assigned three college sophmores a project and they all came at it using different languages in between shots of tequila and bong hits. Her recommendation was something along the lines of “you’d be better off for now to just get rid of this and go back to the old system.” Between the cost of the new thing, loss of productivity and her fee, it was the better part of a hundred grand pissed right down the toilet.

  4. colnago80 says

    I have no idea what the link widget is but links automatically hot link, at least on Firefox and Chrome for OS6.

  5. lanir says

    I’d be curious to see numbers about how much extremism has hurt the GOP lately. Evolution and climate change are silly, random hills to stand and die on, especially when the data is not that difficult to parse. You’d think they would focus on quantum physics or something where they could invent things out of wholecloth and it would be much more difficult for a layman to spot the problem.

    About the software subtopic… I do system administration work which generally only involves light coding here and there. I’ve simply found I’m entirely too lazy to go back and fix things or be woken up at random times to address issues I’ve created. So I do it right the first time wherever possible. Which is not to say I never make mistakes, but they’re always honest mistakes not simple carelessness or poorly thought out logic.

  6. says

    With respect to programming with care:
    Highly worth reading everything Tom writes about software development. The issue nowadays is that the field has changed from one where people who are genuinely interested got involved to one populated with schlubs who only got into it because it’s got a high upside. It’s the difference between “people who care” and “people who are there” and it shows.

  7. dickspringer says

    I am 83 and a retired software developer. The bane of my existence was the phrase “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” It was used by every non-technical boss to force us to live with every minimally functional kludge.

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