Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks outside the Alpha Gamma Rho house during a campaign stop at Iowa State University on Oct. 24, 2015 in Ames, Iowa.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty

Ben Carson pushes the boundaries of post-knowledge politics

Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a top-tier contender, wrote on Facebook last night, “Are we sure political experience is what we need. [sic] Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.”
That’s not even close to being true; many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were experienced elected officials. Carson has no idea what he’s talking about, but he doesn’t see that as impediment to sharing claims with no basis in fact.
A few hours earlier, Carson said he believes archaeologists are wrong and Egyptian pyramids were built by the biblical Joseph to store grain. He first made the argument in 1998, when Carson also argued, in reference to the pyramids, “And various of scientists have said, ‘Well, you know there were alien beings that came down and they have special knowledge and that’s how-’ you know, it doesn’t require an alien being when God is with you.”
All of this followed a Carson event in Miami – a city where literally most of the population is of Cuban descent – where the Miami Herald discovered that the Republican candidate hadn’t done any homework at all.
In the Herald interview, Carson appeared stumped by questions about the so-called wet-foot, dry-foot policy, which allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to remain here, and about the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows Cubans who arrive in the U.S. to apply for legal residency after 366 days.
He was candid about not being up to speed.
Asked about the immigration policy towards Cuban immigrants, Carson conceded, “You’re going to have to explain to me exactly what you mean by that. I have to admit that I don’t know a great deal about that, and I don’t really like to comment until I’ve had a chance to study the issue from both sides.”
At the same event, the retired right-wing neurosurgeon insisted Medicare and Medicaid fraud is “huge – half a trillion dollars,” which really doesn’t make any sense at all.
Four years ago, Mitt Romney ran the first post-truth presidential campaign, regularly lying in such a way as to suggest he simply didn’t care what was true and what wasn’t.
In 2015, it appears Carson is pushing the boundaries of post-knowledge politics. It’s not that he’s lying, per se, because it’s quite likely that in Carson’s version of reality, his claims have real merit. This is more a situation in which a presidential hopeful has decided knowledge itself is unimportant.
In recent years, there’s been considerable discussion about the “war on women” and the “war on voting.” Perhaps it’s time to consider the effects of a “war on epistemology”?