ScienceBlogling Razib comments on Republican rising star Bobby Jindal‘s “very weak understanding of evolution, or, a purposeful misrepresentation” (bold Razib’s):
…the whole article [by Jindal] is an illustration of the reality that extremely intelligent people can also be very ignorant. I have no doubt that Bobby Jindal has a world class mind; and he certainly succeeds and excels at any task which catches his attention. It seems clear to me that when it comes to science & religion he is out of his depth. His characterization of those who disagree with his own religious views is laughable in terms of the inaccuracies in the broad brush pictures which he paints for the reader, and that is surely a good indication of the superficiality of his knowledge base. Jindal can think fast and with great analytic agility, but without a base of facts to manipulate and put through the analytic grinder you produce no value added end product. In short: garbage in, garbage out.
Razib, who is a far kinder soul than the Mad Biologist, accounts for Jindal’s ignorance thusly (bold Razib’s; underline mine):
At this point Jindal had already received his undergraduate degree (with honors) in biology from Brown, but the whole article implies a very weak understanding of evolution, or, a purposeful misrepresentation. “Even if we grant Dawkin’s assumption that human beings are the product of unassisted evolution, which is quite a generous gesture since there is much controversy over the fossil evidence for evolution.” This may speak to the reality that most people with undergraduate biology degrees don’t necessarily have a strong understanding of evolutionary theory; frankly, many are careerist pre-medical types who are more focused on getting the best marks in organic and biochemistry than they are on knowing even the most minimal details of population genetics (which will likely be introduced once or twice in an introductory course). Jindal applied to medical school so one can surmise where his focus lay.
Razib lets Jindal off far too easy. Why? Because Jindal and I both received degrees in biology with honors from Brown in the exact same year. Having gone through that program at the same time, there is no conceivable way that he received his degree not knowing that there is overwhelming evidence from the fossil record for evolution regardless of his focus (“the most minimal details of population genetics” have nothing to do with what Jindal erroneously claimed).
Like Razib, I’m willing to posit that Jindal is very bright. That leaves two possibilities: either Jindal was being willfully ignorant when he wrote the essay four years after he graduated, or he wasn’t paying attention in class. Razib rightly concludes:
I don’t doubt that Bobby Jindal is extremely intelligent, but if I had to guess what sort of person wrote the essay above I wouldn’t have felt embarrassed assuming that the author was an average student at a Christian high school! This doesn’t mean that Jindal isn’t an efficient technocrat, his record speaks for itself. But I think that this piece would suggest he is not truly broadly educated.
And that devalues my degree.
hehehehe Ivy Leaguers and their kooky grade inflation 😛
When I asked my fellow Louisianians how they could so readily support and vote for someone who so willfully ignores facts, they all bascially replied, “He probably doesn’t believe, he’s just saying that to get votes.”
Good one, ERV. That grade inflation will come home to roost!
Ouch. Did you know him?
Louisiana desperately needs someone who can address corruption in state government, and he appears to be that person. He appeals to all the people who voted for Bush, he is charismatic, and speaks much better English than Bush. He might end up as a tough-to-beat presidential candidate someday. 🙁
Unfortunately, he does believe that. He’s Bush Lite, ’04 vintage, with all the conservative, religious, and Young Republicanism that one could possibly have. He was elected by non-New Orleanian Louisianans, i.e., white people from small Southern towns.
It’s entirely possible that Razib’s explanation – all he cared about was grades – is exactly correct. I see plenty of med students here in Louisiana who make excellent grades in classes yet remain incapable of reasoning using their memorized facts. So I’m sure he was exposed to it, but that doesn’t mean he thought about it or even understands it. The man has been soaking in the political process since an early age, and only started to make inroads once he was picked by the Religious Right as part of their Operation “Get Christian Fundamentalists into Governmental Positions.” Unfortunately, his run for Governor came at a time when the power structures in New Orleans that normally would have diminished his chances were disrupted.
Reasonable people can disagree, and I’m sure he’s a nice guy in person, but I personally think that he’s going to be a bigger disaster than Michael Brown. I’m actually quite scared of what’s going to happen here as we’re remote-controlled by the catholic church.
Wow, Bobby gotz pwnd. Nicely done.
DOF – “Louisiana desperately needs someone who can address corruption in state government, and he appears to be that person.”
I’d be great if he was this shining beacon of moral fortitude that some people seem to think he is, but chances are we’re just trading one set of crooks for another, which makes the trade-off(allowing the catholic church to run the state) not really worth it.
Oh my gosh, Mr. Gunn, that is one depressing .pdf file. It just gets worse and worse as you go, and concludes:
I saw him on TV a couple weeks ago. The camera loves him, and so does Faux news. My best guess is he’s being groomed as the GOP answer to Obama. Damn.
you’re just jealous–you secretly wish you had turned out like Jindal….
DOF – Of course he is. He’s so like the year 2000 version of Bush. Just another puppet for the Religious Right.
Jindal is not a stupid man and probably is not really against scientific research. He is creating a certain image as a politician and thus can never admit that publicly. His comments were directed specifically at a constituency that is either anti science or hates anything Democratic. He wants to gain their support for a presidential run. Expect him to continue blasting away with his political rhetoric regardless of truth, accuracy or factual basis. He wants to leave a specific impression in the minds of that unique constituency, of which, sadly there are many. Many like me will reject him, but there are plenty of our fellow citizens that will delight in his attacks and become even more ardent in support of him.