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“Wild And Wacky Stuff”: The Conspiracy Theories Of Ben Carson: A Brief Introduction

The world is now a-BuzzFeed with the discovery of a video from 1998, in which Dr. Ben Carson opined that the pyramids of Egypt were really built as grain houses — not as majestic tombs for the kings. Carson made his case by citing the Bible — specifically the story from Genesis of Joseph advising the Pharaoh of his day to store up grain in order to prepare for seven years of famine.

The alternative, Carson said, was to listen to all those scientists who say the pyramids were built by aliens. As if there were no middle ground there.

In recent days, Carson has reaffirmed these beliefs to a CBS reporter. (Is it possible that Carson was wary of discussing “pyramids” on the record, lest he give a subtle tipoff about his campaign’s very suspicious fundraising and spending operation?)

But this got us wondering: What other wild and wacky stuff does Ben Carson believe, which the wider electorate just hasn’t become totally aware yet? Here’s just a short introduction.

  1. Barack Obama Is Part Of The Communist Conspiracy To Bring Down America

In 2014, Carson declared that President Obama and then-Attorney General Eric Holder were acting out roles in a decades-long communist conspiracy to subvert America.

In doing so, he cited a book from the 1950s by fringe right-wing conspiracy theorist Cleon Skousen, The Naked Communist. (Skousen was also a major racist, even defending the honor of antebellum Southern slavery and the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision.)

  1. The Theory Of Evolution Came From The Devil

In a 2011 speech to a church group, Carson declared: “I personally believe that this theory, that Darwin came up with, was something that was encouraged by the Adversary.”

Carson elaborated on this point: “Now this whole creation vs. evolution controversy has been raging on, really since the beginning. Because what is Satan’s plan? To get rid of God — to disparage God, to mischaracterize God.”

About a month ago, Carson appeared with Bill O’Reilly and dismissed attacks on his beliefs regarding evolution as part of a pattern of liberals attacking African-American conservatives. As for the substance of things, well, he hedged — and asked what those scientists even know, anyway.

“People don’t realize, he’s God — if he wanted to create an Earth that was billions of years old, he could do it. They can’t do it — how come they’re always trying to put themselves in the same category as God?”

  1. Gay Rights Is A Communist Plot — And Men In Prison Prove That Homosexuality Is A Choice

In a 2014 speech to the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, Carson again referenced the aforementioned Cleon Skousen — and said that “neo-Marxists” had “systematically attacked” the family in order to bring down the United States.

In an appearance on CNN earlier this year, Carson argued that homosexuality is a choice — an argument, he said, was lent credence by the experience of some prisoners.

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

Yes — “something” did happen to them in there. In addition to sexual assault, which is rampant in prisons, there is also what is referred to as “situational homosexuality,” which occurs to men in prisons.

Anyway, clearly the good doctor does not favor a fact-based approach to answering life’s lingering questions. But he loves a good story.

 

By: By Eric Kleefeld, Featured Post, The National Memo, November 5, 2015

November 7, 2015 Posted by | Ben Carson, Conspiracy Theories, Evolution | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Walker Latest To Fall Into London Quicksand”: The British Just Don’t Know What To Make Of GOP Extremism In The 21st century

Eventually, Republicans are really going to have to stop going to London.

When Mitt Romney went to the British capital, it was a disaster. When Bobby Jindal went to London, he became a laughingstock. When Chris Christie crossed the pond, he managed to stumble on vaccinations, of all things.

And so, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) arrived in London yesterday, there was a lingering fear: how exactly would he manage to screw this up? Now we know.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday dodged a question about whether he believes in evolution. Speaking at the Chatham House foreign policy think tank London, Walker was asked: “Are you comfortable with the idea of evolution? Do you believe in it?”

“For me, I am going to punt on that one as well,” he said. “That’s a question politicians shouldn’t be involved in one way or another. I am going to leave that up to you.

If you watch the video of the exchange, note that the interviewer prefaces the question by saying the issue is of particular interest when posed to “senior Republicans when they come to London.” The subtle – or perhaps not so subtle – implication is that the British just don’t know what to make of GOP extremism in the 21st century.

Indeed, after Walker refused to answer the question about whether he’s comfortable with modern biology, the interviewer, clearly taken aback by the governor’s reticence, responded with genuine incredulity. “Really?” he said when Walker “punted” on the issue. The interviewer quickly added, “Any British politician, right- or left-wing, would laugh [at the question] and say, ‘Of course evolution’s true.’”

As well they should.

And while I can appreciate the British curiosity about American Republicans, it’s worth emphasizing that the UK simply doesn’t have a major political party as far to the right as today’s Republican Party. It’s no wonder they marvel at the oddity of the GOP’s extremism.

Closer to home, let’s not overlook the fact that the recent Republican track record on scientific issues has been quite woeful of late. Just over the last few months, we’ve seen prominent GOP officials balk at climate science, contraception, vaccinations, post-bathroom hand-washing, and now evolutionary biology.

I shudder to think what the party will come up with next, though if gravity becomes a partisan political issue, all bets are off.

Postscript: I’d just add that Walker’s response to today’s question is obviously unsustainable. If he and his staff aren’t working on a real answer for American journalists who’ll soon press the governor for a batter response, they should be.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 11, 2015

February 12, 2015 Posted by | Evolution, Science, Scott Walker | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“When Tribalism Takes Over”: Republicans Are Being Driven To Identify In All Ways With Their Tribe

Pollsters have found that in the Obama era, the number of self-identified Republican voters who believe in evolution has dropped sharply. Similarly, in recent years, GOP voters routinely tell pollsters that the federal budget deficit has gone up, even as it drops quickly.

What drives results like these? It’s probably the result of the same phenomenon that drives attitudes like these, as reported by Greg Sargent yesterday, about the Affordable Care Act.

My Post colleague Sean Sullivan … points to a Gallup poll this week finding that only 19 percent of Americans say the law has hurt them or their family, while 64 percent say it has had no effect, and another 13 percent say it has helped.

But who are those 19 percent? It turns out those telling Gallup the law has hurt them or their family are very disproportionately Republican and conservative.

Of course they are. Greg got in touch with Gallup, which offered him a closer look at the details of the poll results. In all, a small percentage of Democrats and independents said the health care law has hurt them or their family directly, while 60% of Republicans or Republican-leaning independents said the ACA is doing them direct harm.

Similar results were seen along ideological lines: most conservatives said “Obamacare” is hurting them or their family, most moderates and liberals said the opposite.

Now, I suppose it’s possible that an extraordinary coincidence is unfolding on a national scale. By sheer chance, the very people who oppose the law just so happen to be the exact same people who are adversely affected by it. What a truly remarkable fluke! Who could have guessed?

Or maybe, as Greg put it, “some who already dislike Obamacare are more likely to tell pollsters they’ve been negatively impacted by it.”

It’s amazing what tribalism can do to public perceptions.

Are Republican voters really turning against modern biology in greater numbers? Probably not. Do GOP voters actually believe the deficit has gotten bigger during the Obama era? Maybe, but I rather doubt it.

Do these same partisans and ideologues genuinely believe the Affordable Care Act has hurt them or their families? Maybe some had to change plans or see a new doctor, but odds are, most of these folks are giving the pollsters an ideologically satisfying answer.

It’s not about dishonesty or ignorance; it’s about political tribalism in a period of stark polarization.

When the Pew report came out last month showing Republicans rejecting evolution in large numbers, Paul Krugman had a good piece on the broader dynamic.

The point … is that Republicans are being driven to identify in all ways with their tribe – and the tribal belief system is dominated by anti-science fundamentalists. For some time now it has been impossible to be a good Republicans while believing in the reality of climate change; now it’s impossible to be a good Republican while believing in evolution.

And of course the same thing is happening in economics. As recently as 2004, the Economic Report of the President (pdf) of a Republican administration could espouse a strongly Keynesian view, declaring the virtues of “aggressive monetary policy” to fight recessions, and making the case for discretionary fiscal policy too. […]

Given that intellectual framework, the reemergence of a 30s-type economic situation, with prolonged shortfalls in aggregate demand, low inflation, and zero interest rates should have made many Republicans more Keynesian than before. Instead, at just the moment that demand-side economics became obviously critical, we saw Republicans – the rank and file, of course, but economists as well – declare their fealty to various forms of supply-side economics, whether Austrian or Lafferian or both. Compare that ERP chapter with the currency-debasement letter and you see a remarkable case of intellectual retrogression.

In all likelihood, many on the right are choosing to stick with their “team” and answer pollsters’ questions accordingly. It’s probably best to look at all of these polls accordingly.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 7, 2014

February 8, 2014 Posted by | Evolution, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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