Friday, September 10, 2010

Something Someone Else Said

"There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts — including regulation of environmental and other issues and stem-cell research. Take the surprise ousting last week of Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican senator for Alaska, by political unknown Joe Miller in the Republican primary for the 2 November midterm congressional elections. Miller, who is backed by the conservative ‘Tea Party movement’, called his opponent’s acknowledgement of the reality of global warming “exhibit ‘A’ for why she needs to go”.

The right-wing populism that is flourishing in the current climate of economic insecurity echoes many traditional conservative themes, such as opposition to taxes, regulation and immigration. But the Tea Party and its cheerleaders, who include Limbaugh, Fox News television host Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (who famously decried fruitfly research as a waste of public money), are also tapping an age-old US political impulse — a suspicion of elites and expertise.

Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the movement. Limbaugh, for instance, who has told his listeners that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”, has called climate-change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”. The Tea Party’s leanings encompass religious opposition to Darwinian evolution and to stem-cell and embryo research — which Beck has equated with eugenics. The movement is also averse to science-based regulation, which it sees as an excuse for intrusive government. Under the administration of George W. Bush, science in policy had already taken knocks from both neglect and ideology. Yet President Barack Obama’s promise to “restore science to its rightful place” seems to have linked science to liberal politics, making it even more of a target of the right," -editorial in the journal Nature.

There are some things that should exist outside of politics and I believe that science is one of them. Data is data; facts are facts. They're not up for debate and can't be shaped by focus groups. Government should obviously encourage scientific progress but the interpretations of that progress should be left to scientists and experts, not politicians and bureaucrats. It's extremely important that the intellectually dishonest not be allowed to pervert science or hijack the discipline to suit their political agenda. There's already enough superstition and ignorance in the world. America should be better than that.



Jonathan Urbach said...

Well yeah, the denial of science is, in my opinion, exhibit A as to why America needs to reject the increasingly conservative GOP.

But, in my mind, the denial of science is simply the most brazen example of self-interested and cynical dishonesty from the right. If they can simply dismiss something as significant as global climate change, something that will negatively impact hundreds of millions of lives, then clearly, they will lie about anything.

Leslie Parsley said...

I agree with JU. Facts threaten the right, so they ignore them and yes, lie abot them. Thanks for posting this.

JBW said...

I hear what you're both saying JU and Leslie, and I agree for the most part but I like to think of the political right in this country as more than just a block of ignorant science deniers. Just as it's important to distinguish the moderate Muslims and Christians from the zealots I also feel that it's important to separate the more level-headed Republicans from their core movement ideology. We shouldn't let the more ignorant amongst them deter us from listening to their ideas.

You can call it unfounded hope on my part and after reading what I just wrote I'm apt to agree with you but I still feel that way nonetheless. I think President Obama's bipartisanship might be rubbing off on me, or maybe I'm just listening to the more honest conservatives more than I used to.