GOP is dogmatically anti-science. They reject the conclusions of manmade global warming, which has been accepted by virtually all scientists. And they deny the
overwhelming evidence of evolution. They are anti-science, anti-knowledge, and
anti-progress. The possibility of an
anti-science candidate getting elected to the White House is a terrifying
prospect for it would put our economic, environmental, and political state into
potential disaster. For the sake of the next generation, please don’t elect
such a candidate!
you believe this rendition, it’s likely you’ve been following the incessant
portrayal of the GOP in the media. Consider a few recent headlines: “Republicans Against Science,” “Why
Republicans Deny Science: The Quest for a Scientific Explanation,” and “Rick
Santorum is King of the GOP’s Anti-Science Presidential Candidates. ” The list
could go on. But the message is clear: the Republican Party is full of ignorant
science-deniers who are a threat to the future of America (of course, exception
is made for John Huntsman, who has tried to cast himself as the pro-science
Republican alternative by accepting evolution and manmade global warming).
more Republicans are skeptical of evolution and man-made global warming than
Democrats. But why does this make them “anti-science”? Interestingly, studies
show that anti-vaccine
is higher in progressive areas such as Washington, Vermont, and Oregon. Arguably,
the results of rejecting vaccines can be far more disastrous than rejecting
evolution. So, why doesn’t this make Democrats anti-science? Do I smell a double-standard?
me begin with a qualifier. My purpose in writing this is not specifically to
defend the GOP. I have not ever publicly endorsed a candidate for any party and
I probably never will. This is not a political blog, although it clearly has
political implications. My purpose is to challenge poor thinking about science.
If the GOP critiqued Democrats for being anti-science with the same arguments,
I would defend the Democrats. My purpose is to challenge the assumption that
rejecting a particular scientific theory is akin to being anti-science.
real question is why doubting evolution makes one anti-science in the first
place. Why can’t someone be pro-science yet skeptical of evolution? Maybe the
evolution-skeptic just thinks the evidence is lacking. It’s never been clear to
me why doubting evolution automatically disqualifies someone from being
pro-science. The skeptic may reject the consensus, but again, why does that
make one anti-science? After all, even Darwin rejected the scientific consensus
of his day. Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton said it best:
want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of
what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an
extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.
Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels;
it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.
Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something, reach for
your wallet, because you’re being had…The greatest scientists in history are
great precisely because they broke with consensus…If it’s consensus, it isn’t
science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”
makes a powerful point—consensus is often claimed to avoid debate. That’s why
the claim is incessantly made that the evidence for evolution is
“overwhelming.” You may be tempted to think that the debate over evolution has
been settled. But that may be premature. Yes, a majority of scientists do
accept evolution, but a growing number of Ph.D. scientists from leading
universities such as Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, and the University of
Moscow have come to doubt the efficacy of Darwinian evolution to account for
the variety and complexity of life on earth. Does this make them anti-science? Of
course not! Only someone blindly committed to a worldview would suggest so.
These scientists value science—they just understand the facts differently.
merits of evolution are actually irrelevant to my point. Maybe Darwin was right.
Maybe Darwin was wrong. But it certainly doesn’t follow that someone who doubts
his theory is automatically “anti-science.” In fact, such a claim is avowedly
anti-science, for scientists are supposed to challenge the status quo and
follow the evidence wherever it leads!
a New York Times column titled, “Republicans
Paul Krugman says, “Mr. Perry, the
governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as ‘just a
theory,’ one that has ‘got some gaps in it’ — an observation that will come as
news to the vast majority of biologists.” The majority of biologists do accept
evolution. But is truth determined by numbers? Suggesting so is only meant to
silence critics and avoid debate. Even if the majority of scientists would be
surprised that evolution has “some gaps in it,” as Krugman suggests, why would
that make skeptics anti-science?
Some Republicans may be anti-science. But so may
some Democrats. Alex Berezow made this point in his recent USA Today column, “GOP may be
anti-science, but so are Democrats.” To label
an entire party as “anti-science” is mistaken and simplistic. We
need to move beyond labels and actually engage the issues. But maybe I’m too
naïve. After all, it’s much easier (and effective) to label someone than
actually consider their point of view.