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Why don't my black brothers wise up?
Apr 29, 2008

Dr. Bob,

I'm an African-American HIV poz guy who used to be your patient before I moved to LA. Biggest mistake of my life. You can't believe how much I miss having you as my doc. Anyway, several of my friends here actually believe HIV was a government plot to wipe out blacks. They really believe it. What's up with that? They are as crazy as AIDS denialists! Seems like the whole country is a bit off it's axis lately. Any comments?

Rufus

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Why don't Blacks wise up? I'm not sure that's the real issue. Why don't Americans wise up would be more accurate. Yes, it's true some polls have shown 30% of African Americans believe that AIDS was a U.S. Government plot to kill blacks. Nicholas Kristof discussed this in a recent column in the New York Times. He pointed out that "conspiracy theories are a bane of the African-American community. Perhaps partly as a legacy of slavery, Tuskegee, and Jim Crow, many blacks are also convinced that crack cocaine was a government plot to harm African-Americans and that the levees in New Orleans were deliberately opened to destroy black neighborhoods." However he also points out conspiracy theories and irrationality aren't a black problem, but rather an American problem.

Here are a few prime examples:

An Ohio University poll in 2006 found that 36 percent of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the attacks on the twin towers or knowingly let them happen so the U.S. could go to war in the Middle East.

Americans are as likely to believe in flying saucers as they are in evolution (35% believe in each).

A 34-nation study found Americans less likely to believe in evolution than citizens of any of the other countries except Turkey.

Dubya is the only western leader who doesn't believe in evolution ("the jury is still out").

Only one American in 10 understands what radiation is.

Only one in three has any idea what DNA does.

One in five believes the sun orbits the earth.

Amazing, eh? Sociologist Susan Jacoby sums up the problem well in her book when she writes: "America is now ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism" We've been dumbed-down by Dubya and his cronies! Have you noticed how American politicians with an elite education actually have to pretend to be stupid and simple-minded to garner votes? Why wouldn't we want the smartest guy in the White House making decisions? We've seen what happens when we elect a mentally challenged Rodeo Clown to run the nation. So whether it be HIV/AIDS conspiracy theories or the belief that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church every Sunday, let's hope, as Nicholas Kristof writes, that ". . . maybe, just maybe, this cycle has run its course, for the last seven years perhaps have discredited the anti-intellectualism movement. President Bush, after all, is the movement's epitome and its fruit."

Is it November 2008 yet???

Dr. Bob



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