Friday, May 16, 2014

Yes, Republicans are Anti-Science

That is a statement that 20 years ago would have been laughed at, and that, if taken seriously, would have been pretty horrifying to most people.  Today it's nearly shrugged off as "so, what else is new" except among an ever-shrinking subset of "very serious people" and, frankly, somewhat deluded scientists...mostly people who like low taxes (or who dislike the blah people), and who very selectively ignore the evidence--these aren't very good scientists in a general sense, mind you, but they constitute a significantly non-zero fraction.

The GOP itself spends a good deal of time pretending that they are the ones being "scientific" about various issues (mostly global warming and evolution), and pointing out the crazy anti-science that is more common on the left--particularly nuclear power but also animal testing and vaccinations, though that last is actually pretty ideology neutral in terms of where the true believers lie.  Of course with respect to that first item, they are absolutely not being scientific.  They are abusing complicated scientific principles to undermine the real science being done.  On the second point they aren't necessarily wrong (except the vaccine thing, which tends to pick up rich fools more specifically than it does liberal or conservative fools), but the difference is one of influence: anti-science lefties, even when they have fairly popular positions (e.g. nuclear) that are understanable from a non-science perspective, have approaching zero influence in the party.

I would like to clarify a bit on nuclear energy.  Scientists tend to be pro- while liberals are more likely to be anti- but a lot of the anti-nuke can be justified by things like cost analysis, and risk management/containment.  Additionally, current nuclear technology is just not good enough to replace fossil fuels, while renewables like solar and wind have the potential to reach that point where they could, theoretically, provide enough power to replace fossil, and much, much more power than nuclear [fission] ever could.  So it is possible to be pro-science and anti-nuke.  The same really can't be said about evolution or the existence of anthropogenic climate change.

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