I’m reading an anti-intelligent design book currently, called Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design & the Easter Bunny. It’s meant to be an entertaining humorous book about the intelligent design debate, and sometimes it succeeds in doing so, but sometimes it just succeeds in being offensive. For example, Barrett Brown and Jon Alston, the authors, write that Senator Tom Coburn is

an Oklahoman who first gained national recognition after complaining about the rampant lesbianism that was allegedly occurring in his home state’s university bathrooms (yes, Oklahoma has both a university and bathrooms). (p. 30)

Later, in describing an 1928 anti-evolution law passed in Arkansas, they write:

In short: push evolution in a public capacity and you’ll never work in Arkansas again. This wasn’t much of a threat to anyone who’s ever had the opportunity to find themselves working in Arkansas… (p. 49-50)

I hope you agree that this is not particularly funny, and is based on all sorts of false stereotypes, and is pretty derogatory, discourteous, distasteful, and disrespectful (just to pick some “d” words). People in Oklahoma are about as educated as people from other states (see below for the statistics), and Oklahoma has some fine educational institutions. Arkansas is a beautiful state full of nice normal people. Perpetuating these stereotypes about Oklahoma and Arkansas just isn’t funny, and evidences the close-mindedness that many people accuse intelligent design opponents of having. And in addition to being prejudiced, it’s pragmatically stupid too — it’s not going to help get people from Oklahoma or Arkansas, or anyone who has reasonable opinions about Oklahoma and Arkansas, to be more sympathetic to the anti-intelligent design position that the authors are promulgating. 

The statistics:

According to page 3 of this 2000 US Census report, the percentage of the US population age 25 and over with at least a high school diploma is 80.4%, and the percentage of that population with at least a college diploma is 24.4%. For the Oklahoma population age 25 and over, those percentages are 80.6% and 20.3%. The state with the lowest percentage of college graduates is West Virginia, at 14.8%. (West Virginia, by the way, is one of my favorite states in the whole country — there’s more to a state than its percentage of college graduates.)

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