My grandmother who is an old Irish woman and lived all her life on a farm used to say to be when I had a reply for anything she told me to do that “The devil had all the best lines”.When I went over to the US last August for Yahoo!, I noticed how prominent the Christian fundamentalists had managed to raise the debate on Intelligent Design.
Intelligent Design is creationism in a new set of clothes. What would be considered to be a fringe, backward or crank view outside the US. In the UK and most European countries these people wouldn’t be given the oxygen of publicity and public debate that allows their ideas to flourish stateside. Key characters in the debate like Pat Robinson, who in the UK would be considered to be in the same fringe mould as David Icke, is actually taken seriously.
In fact, despite technological advances that show the commonalities in DNA material between species and people that support evolutionary theory only 40 per cent of Americans surveyed believe evolutionary theory, versus close on 75 per cent in the UK.
Historically, the problem in the US has come from structural elements in their education system, the divisive nature of politics practiced by the Republican Party who has positioned itself as a kind of fundamentalist Christian ‘Party of God’ (which is also what Hezbollah means).
Jeff Hecht writing in the New Scientist Why doesn’t America believe in evolution? (August 20, 2006) points out the deficiencies in education about genetics, but acknowledges a challenge in swinging the adult population.
That’s an ideal challenge that PR can play a major role in addressing how America can be helped back from the dark road that it has started on, but who is going to foot the bill?