Rick Santorum: usually wrong, never in doubt

There is a joke expression about surgeons, “sometimes wrong, never in doubt.” Depending on how you feel about surgeons I’ve heard it begin “sometimes right” and “even when wrong.” Applied to Rick Santorum, I think it has to be “usually wrong” if not “always wrong” given the serious of ridiculous distortions, lies, and made up statistics in the last week.

Starting with his claim that 62% of people that go to college religious graduate without their faith. It seems plausible. College expands peoples experiences and exposes them to new ideas, and such experiences are not going to always mesh with fundamentalist writings of long dead priests. Well, while counterintuitive it actually turns out to be the opposite case. Those who do not attend college may be at higher risk of losing their religion.

“There is no statistical difference in the dropout rate among those who attended college and those that did not attend college,” said Thom Rainer, president of the Southern Baptists’ LifeWay Christian Resources research firm. “Going to college doesn’t make you a religious dropout.”

A 2007 LifeWay survey did find seven in 10 Protestants ages 18 to 30 who went to church regularly in high school said they quit attending by age 23.

The real causes: lack of “a robust faith,” strongly committed parents and an essential church connection, Rainer said.

“Higher education is not the villain,” said Catholic University sociologist William D’Antonio. Since 1986, D’Antonio’s surveys of American Catholics have asked about Mass attendance, the importance of religion in people’s lives and whether they have considered leaving Catholicism.

The percentage of Catholics who scored low on all three points hovers between 18 percent in 1993 and 14 percent in 2011. But the percentage of people who are highly committed fell from 27 percent to 19 percent.

“Blame mortality,” D’Antonio said, “The most highly committed Catholics are seniors, and they’re dying out.”

Do colleges indoctrinate the young to turn on their parents and reject religion? Salon argues they do a little bit, but the indoctrination that tends to be found on college campuses is on pretty universally accepted issues like rejecting racism and homophobia, both of which a majority of Americans now believe are repellent. But to politicians like Santorum, teaching tolerance is a major drawback to college attendance. The claim that colleges engage in indoctrination against religion is bogus, however, unless one is referring to religious beliefs in discrimination against other races and homosexuals.

If anything the opposite is the case as studies have shown higher rates of religious “drop out” among the less-educated. Politifact also challenges his statement that Obama wants everyone to go to college cause he’s a snob.

And how about all his other wacky claims? That prenatal screening causes abortion? Or that JFK believed religious people shouldn’t serve in government?
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A global warming conspiracy theorist has won 4 states, should we be worried?

The states in Green have gone for Rick Santorum, who besides having a a Google problem also believes in one of the wackiest conspiracy theories there is – the climate change hoax. That is, the belief that there is a shady group of Illuminati that have power over thousands of climate scientists from all over the world, and in their greed for sweet sweet grant money scientists uniformly falsify all their data to serve this power-hungry cabal. Is that an exaggeration? Nope, that’s what people who believe in the “hoax” ascribe to (see skeptical science’s thorough debunking of Evans here). This is a more severe form of the denial by Newt or Romney, who claim “insufficient evidence”, the more basic goalpost moving of half-hearted global warming denialism.

But now we have a full-blown global warming hoax-promoting conspiracy theorist picking up momentum to become a candidate for president. Should we be worried?

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