Saturday, September 04, 2010

Political word of the day: Dogmatism

I've been spending some time tonight doing some reading before the semester starts (don't ask - I don't know where the motivation came from!).  In one of the books for my Political Psychology class the word dogmatism came up.  I realized that I had heard that word a lot, but I didn't really understand what it means.
dog-ma-tism (noun)
the tendency to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others
So in the arena of politics, can you think of a particular group of people who could be identified as dogmatists?  Hmmm.  Maybe I can conjure up some examples... 
  • We have scientific evidence that proves evolution is fact, but the Bible tells a different story, so we must ignore the evidence.  
  • We have a mountain of research that tells us sexual orientation is not a choice, but since there are Bible verses supposedly condemning sexual activity between members of the same sex, then we must continue to promote organizations that claim they can turn gay people straight.  We can "pray the gay away," despite what the American Psychological Association has published, stating that homosexuality is normal and attempts to change one's orientation have not proven to be successful.
  • We know that Barack Obama is an American citizen, born in Hawaii. There is documented proof.  But since he's 50% black then he must have been born in Kenya, and he must be a Muslim and a terrorist. And a socialist. And a communist. 
I saw a discussion on Hardball earlier this week on the topic of religious fundamentalism and the role it plays in politics. At the moment, religious-based dogmatism is at a fever pitch, and it's a little frightening.  It doesn't matter what evidence exists on a given topic, since the fundies are going to believe what they see as The Word of God, which in their minds is the only word to dictate law in this country.  The scary part is their interpretation of scripture, since they are free to basically come up with any bullshit they want and say "But it's the word of the lord!".  This tactic has been used to justify slavery, and is still used to treat women as subordinate to men and to classify gays as 2nd class citizens with a different set of rights.

So yeah, that's what dogmatism is. 

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