Fox News is raising an entire generation of fools

Nobody has died as the result of a foreign terrorist attack in the United States since September 11th, 2001. We spend countless billions of dollars on unending wars in the middle east that routinely slaughter civilians and children in the name of keeping our own butts safe from The Terrorists, money desperately needed to combat a failing education system, a slowly improving health care crisis, and increasing poverty here at home.

There are threats to our society that far exceed what foreign terrorism presents these days and rather than combating these threats, we hide behind the first amendment and the right to dissent (more often the right to be stupid and hateful). I suppose that’s a price we pay, and given how things are in other parts of the world, it’s a small price indeed. But in the long run, these threats from inside our borders are the ones capable of destroying our society. Terrorists can kill us and that’s obviously pretty bad, but they can’t take away our constitutional rights, can’t make us stupid and weak, can’t blind us to threats that could eventually destroy the planet itself.

That’s what we have Fox News for.

The right-wing war on climate science is a microcosm of their war on intellectualism, personal integrity, and honesty, and it deserves analysis rather than bitching. But for now, can we all agree that the decades long conservative war on being smart has taken such a horrible toll that most of the people on Fox News are borderline retarded?

I know that a lot of people on Newsvine already have a low opinion of Fox News, and I know a lot of intelligent people that regularly watch Fox News as well. But any person regardless of ideology should be taken aback by the level of stupidity being achieved there today — literally arguing that global warming is a hoax because it’s cold outside today, demonstrating almost complete ignorance of what global warming is and what the consequences of it are. In fact, demonstrating a lack of common sense and higher brain function.

It shouldn’t have to be explained to to an adult that the result of global warming over the short term is first climatic instability, as the earth’s natural weather patterns changed from predictable within a range of norms to unstable and unpredictable extremes. Everything is amplified. A cold winter is even colder, a warm winter even warmer, a dry desert flooded with torrential downpours and other deserts dry out even more. Record high and low temperatures interwoven with unusually mild conditions.

Then later comes climate shift, when fundamental climate systems simply stop functioning. Undersea currents in the Atlantic that keep Britain warm and habitable (despite being as far north as Canada) will shut down as ocean temperatures and salinity change from melting ice. The ground in London will be frozen solid for two thirds of the year, and that’s not addressing but a tiny fraction of the horror to come, like flooding of coastal areas where hundreds of millions of people live and can’t just pick up and move away from on a whim.

The science behind all of that is sound. Every major country in the world, including the United States, has signed off on the research. There are virtually no peer reviewed papers in the world that support opposition to the consensus on climate science. Ever major scientific organization in the world is on the same page here. The largest population of human beings on earth that deny science when it comes to climate research are Republicans. It’s Republicans on one side, and the rest of humanity on the other. It’s not called a consensus for nothing.

I can understand some of the dumber conspiracy theories out there taking hold. The idea that global warming is a conspiracy to screw with businesses is childish, of course, but crazier ideas have been sold before. What really amazes me are the people that honestly believe “it’s cold outside today” is a complete rebuttal to decades of global research on the climate, and these are the same people that vanish whenever we have an unusually warm summer in the United States, too.

The business conspiracy theory folks are in the “I wouldn’t let you touch my finances” category, but the “it’s could outside” folks are well into “no, you can’t hold a plastic spoon because it’s far too dangerous for the rest of us”. This isn’t a political issue, it’s scientific illiteracy mixed with a propensity for anti-authority paranoia. Our current understanding of global warming predicts unusually cold winters just like this one. Global warming hasn’t been debunked, it’s being confirmed on a daily basis across the globe.

It’s not upsetting to me to see this, it’s depressing. It’s a generation of Americans failed by their country in education. Conservatives aren’t wrong that our education system is falling apart, in fact they are evidence of that failure in these two areas. They deny evolution and global warming not because they have a different opinion (as if an opinion were a legitimate alternative to facts), but because they don’t understand it. They don’t understand that the result of global warming are severe swings in temperature and unpredictably severe events. They don’t understand that evolution doesn’t say that human beings are descended from apes, rather that we both share common ancestors that developed along similar lines.

I argue with people about these topics on a regular basis and it’s always the same story. It’s as much about what they “know” that’s wrong as it is about what they don’t know at all.

These aren’t issues to be settled on a round table of pundits on Fox News that includes Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist Donald Trump. (Seriously, Fox? You brought on Donald Trump to talk about climate science? Fuck you.) This sort of ignorance of science probably can’t be fixed for adults. We need to improve our education system so that children stop growing up to be ignorant, stupid adults whose mental deficiencies qualify them only to work at Fox News or to clean floors at McDonalds.

I don’t hate these people, I feel sorry for them. More than that I feel sorry for their children who will grow up every bit as stupid as their parents are. I’m sorry if that all comes off as an empty personal attack on people that I don’t like, but at some point you have to stop the game and just accept the fact that some people are ignorant and close-minded and always will be. That’s Fox News. Exposing yourself to dissenting opinions is commendable, listening to someone literally wearing a tinfoil hat is not.

There was a time when Fox News occupied a position of “Fairly Unbalanced”, but these days it’s hard to tell the difference between the right-wing media and playful conspiracy theory programming like Coast to Coast AM. One day, Fox News might be spinning a story about global warming while Coast to Coast entertains a guest who is absolutely certain that every particle accelerator in the world is a government conspiracy to give us cancer. Tune in tomorrow and both Fox News and Coast to Coast are talking about United Nation plots to sterilize America so we can be invaded and controlled by a one-world government. When Fox News personalities and Coast to Coast guests are both wearing straight jackets, which one is the crazy person?

I’m all for dissent and debate, but enough is enough. Fox News execs may have honest intentions or they may not, but the fact is they are harming America far more than they are helping it, and it’s time for them to quietly retire to AM radio and stop making this country dumber by pretending to be anything other than lunatics on a soapbox.

About Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.