American evangelical Mark Noll’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, has one of the most memorable opening lines of any book I’ve ever read. That memorable line is: “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” The thesis of the book is not that American evangelical Christians are stupid, but rather the pervasive anti–intellectualism that permeates the movement. The result is that gut feelings and truthiness are trusted more than education; that “God did it” is always the best explanation; that the “man on the street” always knows better than the experts. Where independent thought is discouraged as Rushbo, Bam Bam, and the (likely hypocritical) pastor bleating from the pulpit do the thinking for you.
With this in mind, I believe that we have found the primary explanation for why students are leaving the United States Republican Party in droves (via). Nils August Andresen’s series of posts covers this. He considers it not to be due to students becoming more leftist. He also discounts the theory that it is due to indoctrination of students by liberal professors (correctly; there is no evidence that academic freedom is being threatened, and claims otherwise or of indoctrination are just whining by the alternate reality people). Rather, he attributes it to students being repelled by the anti–intellectualism and hostility to science that is within the GOP; that is, the rise of the Religious Right. It wasn’t always this way: in the 1950s, for example, academia was mostly Republican.
It doesn’t have to remain this way; a rational party serves as a necessary counterweight to the other party. When both parties are rational, everyone benefits, as the foolish excesses of both the left and right are avoided.
Clearly, the scandal of the Republican mind is that there is (no longer) much of a Republican mind.