April 23rd, 2014

American anti-science stupidity grows: Implications for ending workplace bullying

We at WBI, as co-facilitators of the U.S. Academy on Workplace Bullying, Mobbing and Abuse, value the contributions scientists make to the workplace bullying movement. The facts from the hundreds of studies produced by Academy scholars and researchers inform our teachings. Our own WBI studies often surprise us, but we accept them and abandon long-held, but wrong, assumptions about some aspect of the phenomenon.

One doesn’t have to be a former university professor like me to appreciate fact-based science. Lovers of technological advances and gadgets should be fond of science. But in the evolving America of the past 30 years, a new group of empiricists has arisen and gained credibility. They are people who feel that if they personally don’t touch, smell, feel, hear or in any way directly experience something, it doesn’t exist.

I call them Narcissistic Empiricists to acknowledge the simultaneous rise of narcissism. They are the anti-science freaks. Once it was ludicrous to mock science (the Inquisition being an exception) lest the person look stupid. Stupid entitles people to substitute facts with opinions and to forever confuse the two. Unfortunately, media coverage of denialists that fails to counter their stated opinions with facts that lazy reporters don’t choose to discover makes stupid almost cool, certainly uncritically acceptable. Science trumps opinions. But in the split-screen, simplistic two-sided media world we inhabit, opinions are granted equivalence, a false parity, with science. With constant exposure to this muddled and incorrect worldview, uncritical viewers who let the media decide reality for them.

The trouble with stupid people is when they are in positions to make policies that affect the rest of us (elected politicians or corporate owners) they can hurt. For instance, the CEO of Hobby Lobby, does not want women employees to have birth control paid by his employer-provided health insurance. His religious beliefs supposedly direct his choices. And he believes he has divine rights to govern others as CEO. The Supreme Court will probably agree with his deviant premise.

As for dumb policymakers, consider members of the U.S. Congress and Senate who proudly deny that catastrophic climate change is happening and the extinction of the human race is forthcoming if changes aren’t made. Or those who deny the biology of evolution of our species and proclaim the earth is only 6,000 years old.

A South Carolina 8th grade girl, very interested in science, led a successful campaign to have the state declare the woolly mammoth the state “fossil” because skeletal remains were found in S.C. long ago. The declaration required help from the state legislature. Two state senators were able to take the science out of fossils by demanding the following language:

The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the ‘Columbian Mammoth’, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field

You see, in the senators’ view, life before the creation of earth and the “other beasts of the field” did not exist. The existence of fossils, age determined by scientific carbon testing, are not reality. Even when the bones exist, these “christians,” insist on denying.

On a personal note, during my catechism years, I learned that Jesus said to pay Caesar his due, acknowledging that Jesus lived in the Roman empire and secular realities exist. Today’s stubborn “christians” show no such tolerance or understanding that Jesus had. Why not allow secular science to exist side-by-side? A close reading of Darwin shows he never attacked the existence of God or religious faith. One can live in both worlds. Most scientists can accept faith, but the grossly intolerant faithful are absolutists.

How intolerant and ignorant of science has America become?

The Associated Press commissioned a new survey of adult Americans asking questions about acceptance of scientific facts. Some of the findings are startling.

• Only 13% were extremely confident that “The average temperature of the world is rising, mostly because of man-made heat-trapping greenhouse gases” 37% were not too/not at all confident

• Only 14% were extremely confident that “Life on Earth, including human beings, evolved through a process of natural selection” 42% were not too/not at all confident

• Only 14% were extremely confident that “The universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang” 51% were not too/not at all confident

• Only 38% were extremely confident that “Inside our cells, there is a complex genetic code that helps determine who we are” 22% were not too/not at all confident

From the survey report:

Confidence in evolution, the Big Bang, the age of the Earth and climate change decline sharply as faith in a supreme being rises, according to the poll. Likewise, those who regularly attend religious services or are evangelical Christians express much greater doubts about scientific concepts they may see as contradictory to their faith.

The poll highlights “the iron triangle of science, religion and politics,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication.

Download the AP-GfK Survey.

Implications for Workplace Bullying

When Narcissistic Empiricists occupy the C-suite in your corporation or agency, they will likely not be persuaded by science.

The burgeoning science backing the workplace bullying movement is clear and convincing, but only to someone who trusts science over her or his personal experience.

Arguments made by anti-bullying proponents require a receptive rational person to which the persuasion attempts can be made. Narcissistic Empiricists resist rationality.

This presents problems for us trying to convince those with no direct experience being bullied at work (51% of adult Americans) that bullying must be stopped before it worsens the public health hazard it already is.

What are your thoughts?


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014 at 10:06 am and is filed under Bullying-Related Research, Fairness & Social Justice Denied, Social/Mgmt/Epid Sciences. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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