The US Republican Party Hates Science

Michele Bachmann's easily one of the GOP's most prominent candidates. She also has scientific views from the 15th century, claiming both earthquake '11 and Irene were divine warnings. That's insane. She's not alone. And that's absolutely terrifying.

Let me be clear up front. To be a Republican is not to be a philistine, or against science by default. There are conservatives across every field of every science, and I mean no indictment against them, because there's no grounds for one. There are plenty of doctors and scientists who also vote GOP. But as an institution, the Republican Party of today is determined to subvert the progress of science, to subordinate it to the interest of shareholders instead of the brilliance of researchers.

Bachmann's disaster bleating was frantic and crazy, yes:

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?'"

But it's also vehemently anti-scientific. Hurricanes and earthquakes are phenomena of the natural world. We don't always predict them correctly, but we sure as hell understand why they happen. And it isn't to terrify Congress.

Michele's anti-empirical claims — that's she'll magically make gas cost $US2 a gallon, that global warming is based on "manufactured science", "all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax", that "carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas", her Dark Ages, fingers-in-ears opposition to evolution — aren't the exception. Bachmann isn't a beastly deviant — she's just a well-pedicured emblem of Republican anti-scientism.

Bachmann's easy to eviscerate — and laugh off — on The Daily Show, but it's also the case, almost without exception, across the fleet of 2012 GOP contenders. fellow Republican contenders are just as dead set against science. Perry, Romney, Santorum, Bachmann, Gingrich, Paul, Cain — almost all denounce climate change, the existence of the EPA, and the veracity of evolution. Perry's described climate change as a fraud perpetrated by "a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data". Santorum says pinning warming on humankind is "patently absurd". Paul's stated he doesn't "accept evolution as a theory". Bachmann, Paul, and Santorum all openly support creationism in schools, with Romney and Gingrich taking ambiguous hybrid views on evolution. If one of them is elected president next year — and that could certainly happen, with much of the country soured on Obama — anti-scientific policies could make the hop from debate podiums to legislation.

One of the two viable political parties in the United States has an institutional agenda against scientific fact. That's very bad.

The GOP's refusal to believe the world's smartest people isn't accidental. It's smart strategy. As the party of business, the GOP has to oppose scientific findings that threaten business. That means denying climate change — because the reform to fix it would cost corporations money. That means pushing for the abolition of the EPA — because environmental regulations cost corporations money. In order to fight for a society in which smokestacks flow freely and all slimy shit in christendom can be dumped into lakes, the science that says these things are bad and dangerous has to be suppressed. Or at least opposed and dismissed. It's a typical tactic across the GOP gamut, to wave off science as silly, contrived, made-up, voodoo and various other demeaning adjectives. It's been this way for decades, but with the infiltration of Tea Party loons like Bachmann, the blinders are strapped on extra tight—and non-business worm-cans like creationism are popped open too.

By not having to take an issue seriously, the GOP can remain unengaged with the empirical world. It doesn't have to refute decades of research, scientific journals, virtually all of western academia, and other trivialities. It can just say, Oh whatever, that's a laugh! and move on.

The NYT's Paul Krugman notes that the problem's gotten so bad, even some Republicans are admitting it. Jon Huntsman doesn't have a chance in hell of being our next president, but he had the balls to not tow the GOP's oil-coated line of ignorance; he's not afraid to acknowledge that evolution is real, that global warming is scientific fact.

According to Gallup, he's now polling at 1 per cent.


Comments

    Americans need compulsory voting. Maybe then the 'normal' people would keep the 15th centurians to a minimum of influence.

      True Story. I am scared for the next 10-15 years in America... a lot of my friends are going to have a real hard time, regardless of the government, but especially if the nutcase that is Bachmann gets in.

    The sad thing is - we're seeing a rise of this sort of lunacy in Australia too.

      True, the Alan Jones' of the world have the general publics hearts and minds, and they drag intellectual debate to its lowest common denominator

        Alan Jones does not "drag intellectual debate" anywhere; the man is anti-intellectual and all his arguments occur in a fantasy land. A land where truth is lies and lies truth.

          Unfortunately people actually listen to him. You may not and I certainly don't (or I do when I want to hear some fiction and due for a laugh at his ignorance) but there are people out there who follow what he says as gospel.

    Good grief, I almost - /almost/ - want Bush back. And yet, I find myself overcome with bile fascination as to seeing just how things would pan out of one of these guys made President. I suspect it'd be quite amusing - probably crippling for everyone, but amusing nonetheless.

    You, sir, are a nincompoop! I mean that in the gentlest sense possible.If you do a little research, you'll realize her statement was a joke. People laughed! Facts will not stand in the way of your agenda. When I got to your claim that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas I read no further. You, sir, are anti-science. Oh, BTW I have a degree in Science.

      Thanks for clearing that up Ron. Member of the Australian Tea Party by any chance? With that kind of pseudo-science attitude I'm sure they'd love to have you!

      No, she didn't mean her remarks as a joke. Bachmann is one of the loonier Tea Party products, and yet a ridiculous number of people take her seriously.

      Just look up how she proposed to solve the US debt crisis (that the Tea Party was responsible for creating).

      Oh, and before any Republican excuseniks come out with the line about "Democrats always overspend", how about taxing your rich and looking at when overspending has occurred in the last 30 years. It started with Reagan, and Bush Jr was the most recent profligate.

    I'm officially terrified for the future of planet Earth. The stupid thing is these blind fundamentalist anti-science nutbags are quite happy to use science every day of their life. Whether its making calls on their iPhone, watching TV, sending an email, they accept science without thinking about it. However when it comes to analysing and studying the planet, bugger science! An ancient 2000 old book, written by men, clearly holds all the answers! #facepalm

    We need to invent a time weapon to shoot these people back to 1511, where they belong. See how well they'd get on without science then.

    A common lie about those of us on the right is that we hate science. This is far from the truth, we understand that science is imperfect and that known science today may be histories joke tomorrow. After all science once considered all of the following to be fact:

    World is flat
    Sun rotates around the earth
    It is impossible to break the sound barrier
    Lunar craft would sink into the lunar surface stranding the craft
    The 1Gig barrier in computer processing could not be beat
    The Earth is in a Global Cooling Crisis
    Eugenics is a good thing

    The list goes on.

    We cannot accurately predict the path of a hurricane, predict if there will be rain or sun this weekend. We do not understand the majority of the universe in which we live yet some think that the latest scientific ideas must be accepted without question... that doesn't sound very scientific to me considering that the very basis of science is to question everything.

    The close minded approach of the leftists who attack people like me without actually knowing what it is we believe in is the truly alarming trend of my lifetime. We are described as being extremists for believing in limited government and sound fiscal policy. We believe in listening to science but gathering both sides and coming to our own educated conclusions rather than simply accepting the dogma of the day.

    Yeah...... okay. So thats a nice association fallacy.. grouping numerous superstitious ideas together of yesteryear that were proven not to withstand the scientific method with something that is withstanding the scientific method in the hope they'll rub off on each other? So, gathering both sides... I guess lets have a look at our favourite Lord Christopher Monckton who offers a nice balanced "scientific" counter argument to anthropogenic climate change. Watch part 1 to 6 of these and then actually find some true claims of Monckton as the author invites: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfA1LpiYk2o I know it seems reasonable to gather both sides, the scientific one and the unscientific one, and then come to your own educated conclusion over which one to believe in.
    It's when limited government and fiscal policy places humans as incapable of environmental manipulation and degradation and fiscal growth at all costs (increase population indefinitely, abuse the environment, use up all non-renewable resources), even at the cost of damaging the planet we depend on for long term human survival. Oil will run out, so will coal, if you build a billions strong population for short term financial gain on the back of finite resources without some planning and small steps towards transitioning said population to 100% renewable resources then you're setting up future generations for a catastrophe.

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