Thursday, November 11, 2004

Denouncing science

Even before they've seen the movie, the usual mullahs and flat-earthers are denouncing the forthcoming film "Kinsey." Back in the 1980s, when these guys were picketing movies like "The Last Tempation of Christ," I used to just shake my head and wonder why they would work to give a mediocre movie all the free publicity. But give these guys credit: they've made headway in promoting their reactionary creed: advertisers truly fear the wrath of angry Dobson.

If the integrity of the country weren't at stake, you'd have to just laugh at this line from Robert Knight, director of something called the Concerned Women of America's Culture & Family Institute: "Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele or your average Hollywood horror flick mad scientist." (Well, Bob, which is it? Was Kinsey really like the worst monster of the twentieth century... or was he more like a B-movie entertainer? Or has all that "moral clarity" obscured your ability to tell the difference?)

Like the nutters, I haven't seen the movie. Unlike them, I'll withhold judgment before I see the evidence. And that's an important difference.

In a theme we'll be returning to on a regular basis, what we see here is a typical example of (if you'll pardon my French) the epistemology of the Cultural Right. To put things just a little too bluntly, the denizens of the Cultural Right often opt not to base their judgments on facts and evidence; instead, they operate on the basis of "gut, "feel," or "principle" -- terms that, in the absence of facts, are synonymous with prejudice (or perhaps more accurately, superstition).

This story shows how the Cultural Right rejects the scientific method on two levels, both in its ad hominem (as opposed to evidence- or methodology-based) attack on Kinsey's science, and in its a priori (as opposed to evidence-based) attack on the movie representing Kinsey.

1 comment:

Kier said...

Kinsey's only sin is that of heavy handedness. The swelling music, the desperate hand outstretched towards the Oscar...

Other than that, it is thoroughly engaging. There's a nostalgic quality that is jarringly juxtaposed against the sudden realization of how far we HAVEN'T come since the 50's. To say that Kinsey was ahead of his time is an understatement.

And if the Christian Fascists are freaking out about the sexual liberation of women before they've even seen the film, wait until they see the hot man-on-man action. Hope I didn't give anything away!