Are Republicans Really Anti-Science?

In Mother Jones, Kevin Drum takes on Chris Mooney’s stance In The Republican Brain. The question both writers pose is “Who has been anti-science, and why?”

I know some people who are anti-science but they seem to come from all over the political spectrum. In fact, I know more liberals who support the false god of political science than conservatives who denounce the real thing. And that is the crux of the problem.

When Buster Door said to me, “You’re anti-science” he and his friends are mostly saying “You’re against what I oh-so-strongly believe.” They have no rigorous proof to back up either the claim or what they believe. NPR’s Ira Flatow who “barely grasped chemistry” is a good example of that.

“The science of climate change is fixed,” he says regularly on his weekly radio show, Science Friday. “Why can’t people just accept that [man causes it] and move on?”

I don’t think anyone would argue for a static climate. I don’t understand how anyone who has ever seen a 5-day weather forecast could argue that we know enough about climate to “fix the science” in Mr. Flatow’s favorite concrete.

Stephen Hawking wrote in A Brief History of Time, “A theory is a good theory if it satisfies two requirements: It must accurately describe a large class of observations on the basis of a model that contains only a few arbitrary elements, and it must make definite predictions about the results of future observations.

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis; you can never prove it. No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove a theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the predictions of the theory.”

The theory of anthropogenic climate change describes a smaller-and-smaller class of observations on the basis of a model that contains an increasing number of arbitrary elements. Many proponents ignore historically larger climate swings that do not fit the theory. Many proponents ignore solar influence that does not fit the theory. Many proponents ignore the inconvenient truth that new temperature data shows the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years which does not fit the theory.

Mr. Drum makes some good points but he overlooks the most obvious when he writes, “Doubt about climate change is obviously motivated by a dislike of the business regulation that would be necessary if we took climate change seriously…”

I just can’t see that.

I see that doubting anthropogenic climate change means we understand how science works.

And I see the political scientists of anthropogenic global weirding as worshipers of Ptolemy.

Pretty bright guy, our Ptolemy. His Harmonics defined music theory and the mathematics of music. His Geographia not only compiled world geography in the Roman Empire, but also used coordinates and established latitudes and longitudes. But he also believed the Earth was the center of the Universe. It took 1500 years before Copernicus could dispel that.

I know these pieces are always All About Me, but I also know I am not the center of the Universe.

If it takes us another 1500 years to understand that bankrupting ourselves on political science so we have nothing left to adapt to the looming colder or hotter lands and seas, we have indeed met the enemy.

He is us.

8 thoughts on “Are Republicans Really Anti-Science?

  1. As an aside, Chris Mooney’s stance on the goings on In The Republican Brain is a pretty typical liberal ploy: let’s take some observations and spin them up to support our beliefs. After all, no conservative could be that wrong without some unfortunate physical “challenge,” right?

    It intrigues me that in the Nature v. Nurture argument, the Liberal touchstone is always nurture but here Mr. Mooney presents brain scans, scientific polls, and psychological experiments to explain that nature causes conservatives to believe wrong things. I’m thinking it’s time to dust off my phrenology bust again.

  2. I agree about AGW but unfortunately the current crop of Republican poseurs does itself a great disservice by not repudiating Creationism and its faithful knuckleheads. Santorum’s supporters in particular make it clear there’s sometimes an interesting set of similarities between our South and Midwest and rural Iran. So the liberals are given a broad brush to paint with.

  3. Ah, I see Don has hunkered on the opposide side of the line from the faithful but hapless knuckleheads.

    That’s one thing that makes America so great: people are free to disbelieve as they wish. Yet, why is it that only disbelievers call their opposites *knuckleheads*?

    The answer is so obvious as to be rehetorical.

    — George

  4. Yeah, the Ayatollahs are winning.

    My grandfather was the quintessential scientist and believer. He was a PhD researcher who became a teacher; he was also a Presbyterian elder. He (and I) have had no trouble understanding faith and science can exist comfortably side-by-side and that a person of faith is better equipped to face the world than one without.

    He would have had little truck with false prophets like Al Gore who would subvert science for political gain or with false prophets like Rick Santorum who would subvert God for the same.

    @Don: The broad brush the Al Gores and Michael Moores use to paint the Rick Santorums and Pat Robertsons is double-headed, though. Their faith-based belief in facts that simply aren’t real leaves them just as whitewashed — and lonely — as a Creationist at a Hooters™.

    @George: He called them knuckleheads because they are. So are Mr. Gore and Mr. Moore. Creationism has the same scientific validity as anthropogenic global warming.

  5. I despair that so many of the crackpot believers (no disrespect to Mr. Polchicki intended) hew to the right. If only they’d concentrate on their syruptitious fornicatin’ and sinnin’ ‘n such and leave politics to the more rational among the right. They’re so fearful that God won’t be there to back them up that they try to force their weirdo beliefs into the very fabric of Man’s law. A shame God doesn’t bitch slap ’em and tell them to let Him do His job while they do theirs.

  6. “why is it that only disbelievers call their opposites *knuckleheads*?”

    Illustration of why we don’t do usenet anymore.

    I have even less use for Moore and Gore than for Santorum and Robertson. I only mentioned one of those people to refer to some of their followers, whose desire to see “god” returned to the White House distinguishes them little from the less sophisticated Iranians who allow themselves to be similarly fooled. There are of course such people in every country, sometimes in a majority. No wonder I’ve retreated into my weird post-hippie libertarianist antiestablishmentarianism full of dust and propane and strange clothing.

  7. I have some liberal relatives who just assert that “Republicans hate science.” As a conservative, it leaves me speechless when I consider the fraud being committed by leftists in climate science.

    In my experience, liberals are the least curious people on the planet. I have concluded this is because: Their agenda trumps science, so there is no need to be curious. They decide what they want to believe first and then if people question them, they either trash the messenger or make up data to try to prove they are right. That is one difference between the left and right: The left decides first what they want to believe while the right look at the data first and then comes to a conclusion about what to believe. Of course, the 80-20 rule probably applies to both sides, so we have to qualify it by saying, “as a general rule.”

    The situation is very troubling when you hear this stuff from college-educated people.

  8. The problem is that no one really knows and how could it be proved? Even the signature of an imaginary god wouldn’t mean anything. Wait, that’s kind of already happened

    Besides, were China to stop buying the vast amounts of Australian coal, we down underers would be living in tents lit by kerosene lamps (more green house gas emissions…). Australians aren’t ready to casually flip a coin at this point as there’s a lot at stake.

    I do not buy the idea of anthropogenic climate change and I think it’s a scam. GE would love the planet to ‘go green’ cuz they have plans which were developed a long time ago to make billions out of it. Think govt contracts, nuclear power; a who-knows-how-big bunch of related industries etc., and a finger in each pie. It’s only good business sense after all so you can’t actually blame them for doing anything wrong.

    An Australian environmentalist who was also a former recipient of the Australian of The Year Award, was ripped apart for the better part of a month, two or so years ago for going counter to the big heap ‘received wisdom’ kow-tow story. It was pitiful to watch. But ya’know it was an oh well public not interested and media goes bezerk spectacle that gave journalists and so-called analysts something to yap about for that particular month. So bloody irritating.


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