Nicely done! Rebecca Watson rebuts a recent article by Michael Shermer that tried to claim there was a liberal war on science. It was a very silly article; it’s not that I would ever claim that the liberal side is flawless — antivaxxers and proponents of quackery are found on both sides of the aisle , we had Tom Harkin throwing money down the drain of ‘alternative medicine’, and there are New Age notions of ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ that defy reason — but the pathology isn’t usually a matter of policy on the left, where it is on the right.
And Shermer does such a poor job of supporting his claim! He repeatedly does a sneaky switch of throwing out statistics about the ignorance of the rank and file on science on both sides, and then pretending that these views reflect what the leadership is doing. In the US, we have a general problem of widespread ignorance of science; every party, every subgroup is going to be afflicted with a large number of clueless people. The real question is whether the ignorant people are effective in shaping policy. In the case of the Republicans, they are: the religious right and the Tea Party have had a profound influence on their representatives. Look at the House Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, for instance; it’s chaired by Republican John Shimkus, a born-again evangelical Christian who fervently believes that global climate change is a hoax. Can you name a comparably deluded Democrat who is undermining serious scientific concerns?
We liberals do not have a Broun, or an Inhofe, or an Akin, or a Jindal in our ranks. Republicans do, and even take them seriously as potential presidents.
Or look at the last roster of Republican presidential candidates. Fortunately, the least anti-science of the bunch, Mitt Romney, got the nomination…but look look at the rest of those bozos, evolution deniers and anti-environmentalists everywhere. Democrats tend to be almost as pro-corporate as Republicans, but you simply don’t see those fringe anti-science beliefs making as much headway among them. Furthermore, Democrats tend to favor pro-education policy more than Republicans — they at least do not express a desire to destroy public education.
Among the worst of the presidential candidates, though, was Ron Paul, who was one of those who does not accept evolution and also desires the elimination of the Department of Education.
Maybe Mr Shermer’s next article should be about the Libertarian war on science and reason? Now there’s a mob of delusional idiots who deserve a serious dressing down.