Mike the Mad Biologist

Jindal Is Smart? Really?

In the commentary about LA Governor Bobby Jindal’s disastrous response to Obama’s speech Tuesday night, we keep hearing how smart he is. So what do we call a supposedly bright person who is a creationist and believes that an exorcism cast out cancer? And this is personal:

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.

Nonetheless, conservatives such as NY columnist David Brooks still don’t get it–this is Brooks’ immediate response to Jindal’s speech:

While I almost feel sorry for him, what the hell is Brooks thinking? “A promising politician?” Your guy is a creationist and believes in casting out demons. Sweet baby Intelligent Designer, I had to use the post tag of “Demonic Possession” to talk about the man. Jindal is a fucking loon. That’s your problem, not the delivery or the strategy.

Comments

  1. #1 Badger3k
    February 26, 2009

    Who was it who said that you don’t have to be smart to be a politician? Add in the ability to lie with a straight face and suck up to whoever will get you votes, and I think Mr Jindal is a “promising politician”.

    Or maybe he meant that as a politician, Jindal promises a lot of things. Same words, different emphasis.

  2. #2 clheiny
    February 26, 2009

    I think I’ve figured it out. Palin obviously wasn’t a success for the Republicans, so they’ve decided to turn the stupid dial up another notch.

  3. #3 jls
    February 26, 2009

    the key to success is sincerity. if you can fake that you will succeed.

  4. #4 T. Bruce McNeely
    February 26, 2009

    I have little doubt that Jindal is smart.

    I have somewhat more about his integrity.

  5. #5 BreakRoomLive
    February 26, 2009

    This is where Bobby Jindal got his talking point from:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0cpjhTRO28

  6. #6 abb3w
    February 26, 2009

    To give the devil his due, Jindal sounds (from tracking his quote about the fossil record to a more complete source) like he is not a Young-Earth Creationist, but an Old-Earth creationist or Theistic Evolutionist… who has been listening to far too many YEC talking points. This is marginally less stupid.

    It’s also worth noting the essay dates to 1995; his position may have evolved one way or another since. =)

  7. #7 D. C. Sessions
    February 26, 2009

    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.

    Fallacy of exclusion.

    It’s quite possible that he is bright and was paying attention in class — and that he has no problem at all bullshitting in pursuit of power.

  8. #8 Edward
    February 26, 2009

    There was a required class I took in College where I got an F on my first paper and the first mid-term. The subject was one I was interested in and familiar with. At first I was wondering WTF I was doing wrong. Then I had an idea – for the second paper, I looked over my notes from the class and put exactly what the professor said into my own words. I got an A on that paper and did very well on all the papers and tests for the rest of the class, winding up with a B in the class (because of those initial F’s). I was able to pull this off because I am smart. It disgusted me that someone so narrow minded could get a faculty position at a top university, but I needed the class to graduate, and a fight with the prof didn’t seem worth the risk.

    Anyone who has observed the republican party for the past quarter century knows that to succeed in the republican party, one needs to bow to the republican orthodoxy. I think that, from the point of view of that orthodoxy, Jindal is a promising politician. Furthermore, he has to be smart to pull it off. But I won’t be voting for him or any other promising Republicans any time soon.

  9. #9 Bruce E
    February 26, 2009

    I have little doubt that Jindal is smart.

    I have somewhat more about his integrity.

    What does that do to Hanlon’s razor? Do we need a corollary for dishonesty/integrity instead of malice that goes the other way (preferring dishonesty over stupidity)?

  10. #10 D. C. Sessions
    February 26, 2009

    What does that do to Hanlon’s razor?

    Hanlon’s Razor primarily applies to single events where brains are especially good at outsmarting the actor.

    The aphorism you’re looking for is something like, “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action.”

  11. #11 DarkSyde
    February 26, 2009

    Hahaha! That was a sweet little close man.

  12. #12 Martijn
    February 27, 2009

    Isaac Newton, Linus Pauling, Kurt Gödel, James Watson: geniuses who also happened to believe in very stupid things.

    So Jindal is in good company. His bigger problem is that based on his speech he not only believes in some weird stuff, but that he is just not a very good politician.

  13. #13 Patsymon
    February 27, 2009

    It is possible to be very smart and yet be held captive by a fallacious mindset of beliefs. There are “intelligent” people the world over who are able to write, read, and speak well, who can do math, who have successful occupations, etc., but who also believe in supernatural/religious dogma. Bobby Jindal can be counted as one among that hypnotized horde. Like far too many, he might be able to do long division on a napkin, speak in complete sentences, and navigate the complexities of government operations, but he also seems to have had his brain’s reality-cognition center co-opted by a cultic ideological washing. It’s these “smart” ones that historically have caused the most trouble in the world by leading more numerous, “less-smart,” credulous populations into one abyss or another.

  14. #14 SLC
    February 27, 2009

    Ken Miller and Joe Levine must want to wear bags over their heads every time Jindals’ name is brought up.

    Re Martijn

    I don’t think it is entirely fair to bracket Issac Newton with the others mentioned as having weird ideas. One must remember that the state of knowledge in the 17th century was quite primitive compared with the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, Newton believed in transmutation of elements through chemical processes. Such a hypothesis was not falsified until the discovery of the atomic nucleus so, in Newtons’ time, it was not an off the wall hypothesis, given the state of knowledge at the time.

  15. #15 Herod the Freemason
    February 27, 2009

    SLC:

    Ken Miller and Joe Levine must want to wear bags over their heads every time Jindals’ name is brought up.

    A missing link! You’ve just been over at Dispatches From the Culture Wars and you messed up a copy-and-paste.

  16. #16 BreakRoomLive
    February 27, 2009

    A hilarious moment from some hot GOP on GOP action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0CMgcCOoG8

  17. #17 D. C. Sessions
    February 27, 2009

    As long as we’re mentioning Robert Heinlein aphorisms (upthread) let’s recall that

    Man is not a rational animal, Man is a rationalizing animal.

  18. #18 SLC
    February 28, 2009

    Re Herod the Freemason

    Actualy, I didn’t do a copy/paste. I typed out the comment independently for both blogs.

  19. #19 eriq
    February 28, 2009

    the thing that irks me the most is why we dont see this on main stream news…i realize the dopes a faux arent quick to run a story like this, but what about credible news sources? is there anymore?
    most interesting is the fact that as americans the percentage of people who are atheist has grown a shit ton. i think its somewhere around 16%. thats huge given that 10 years ago it was like 5%.
    this is why extremist (republicans) are finding it difficult to control a majority of peeps. the old god fearing ways have come to an end. but i’d still let that jindal guy exorcise the peanuts outta my poop!

  20. #20 Graham Shevlin
    February 28, 2009

    Bobby Jindal is a politician. The only thing that matters to a politician is power. He will therefore do anything, say anything and adopt any position that he thinks will increase his chances of amassing more power. The ends justify the means, and if that means he gets to publicly forget his education and talk unscientific crap based on a monotheistic belief system, he will do so.

  21. #21 Helen
    February 28, 2009

    The theory of evolution is just a theory. Darwin states that everything came out of nothing. Anyone looking at a watch or a bacteria flagellum knows there’s a designer. Jindal isn’t my man though, we don’t need another muslim who claims to be a Christian now like BO. SARAH PALIN 2012!

  22. #22 ipu4me
    February 28, 2009

    Another cult follower. Helen is the other side of this story’s coin. She is not smart and is one of the follower sheep. Doesn’t know the difference between the colloquial use of theory and scientific theory, doesn’t know Evolution does not posit something from nothing, doesn’t know designer nonsense has been long debunked and has no basis in reality and thinks Obama is a Muslim. Reasonable, rational and logical Freethinkers can only hope the ReThugs run Palin in 2012. More Dem’s, enough to defeat any filibuster.

  23. #23 rrl
    March 1, 2009

    The problem with Jindal, independent of his evolution-denying-turned-prevaricator status (turns out he was NOT at Sheriff Lee’s office during Katrina–BIG LIE), is that he looks and speaks like an obsequious wimp. No one is going to take this guy seriously for president. He couldn’t look tough to save his life. All I see when I look at this dude is prune juice and orthopedic back-pillows.

  24. #24 What just happened
    March 22, 2009

    Oh my god, he was a Rhodes Scholar.

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    April 15, 2009

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