Called Anti-Science, Rightbloggers Reply That Science is a Liberal Plot

tomt200.jpgWith the ascension of Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, and other GOP candidates who don't cotton to this evolution or climate change stuff, people have begun to ask if Republicans and conservatives are actually becoming hostile to science. It doesn't help that one of those people is Republican Presidential candidate John Huntsman.

Rightbloggers leapt into this fray with a broad reinterpretation of the word "science" to mean whatever they wanted it to mean, which in most cases was "something liberals and scientists use to attack God and America."

A few weeks back Huntsman worried aloud that Republicans increasingly "find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position." He was seconded by such expected sources as Paul Krugman. But less ideologically-oriented publications jumped in as well: Last week the science magazine Discover, for example, wondered about "the increasingly antiscience Republican candidates."

Some people who are decidedly not liberals got nervous about it too. At libertarian magazine Reason, Steve Chapman wrote about "The Conservative Reversal on Science." Bernard Goldberg said this week, "Liberal Democrats may be nuts, but they're not nuts about this kind of thing. A conservative running for the GOP nomination for president may do quite well in Iowa believing in religious fairy tales - but it's not going to play well in other parts of the country, especially with independents who tend to be more moderate."

The brethren put on their thinking caps and came up some zingers to shut up them science-y liberal types.

"In no sense that the ordinary person would understand the term is Rick Perry 'anti-science,'" asserted National Review's Rich Lowry. "He hasn't criticized the scientific method, or sent the Texas Rangers to chase out from the state anyone in a white lab coat."

In fact, said Lowry, "Perry's website touts his Emerging Technology Fund as an effort to bring 'the best scientists and researchers to Texas.'" As if that weren't convincing enough, he also pointed out that Perry's home state "has a booming health-care sector," which proves Perry's devotion to science much as Texas' record drought might prove his devotion to dehydration.

Lowry admitted Perry has a "somewhat doubtful take on evolution," but explained that it "has more to do with a general impulse to preserve a role for God in creation than a careful evaluation of the work of, say, Stephen Jay Gould." Also, lots of Americans don't think man came from no monkey, neither. So Perry has great motives for his anti-evolution stand: God, and possible election to the Presidency.

Elite northern liberal persecutes God-fearing man of the people.
By contrast, said Lowry, liberals only believe in evolution because they hate God. "Science is often just an adjunct to the Left's faith commitments," he wrote. "A Richard Dawkins takes evolutionary science beyond its competence and argues that it dictates atheism... They are believers wrapping themselves in the rhetoric of science while lacking all the care and dispassionate reasoning we associate with the practice of it." Scientists, huh? Rich Lowry will tell them what science is!

Ridiculous as this is, Lowry's colleague Jonah Goldberg managed, as is his wont, to make it worse.

"You only struck a glancing blow at my biggest peeve about the whole anti-science thing," Goldberg told Lowry: "Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for 'science'?"

What? one is tempted to ask, but Goldberg went on: "Why can't the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain?"

Fetal pain is a term of art used in anti-abortion legislation; researchers say there's no evidence of it early in pregnancy, but each time they do anti-abortion groups dispute their findings ("RCOG is using a faulty definition of pain... The humanness of the unborn child is not contingent on its capacity for pain," etc). This is apparently Goldberg's idea of scientific inquiry.

Goldberg ran through many such cases and, while admitting "some of these examples are controversial, others tendentious," nonetheless maintained that "all are just as fair as the way the Left framed embryonic stem cell research and all are more relevant than questions about evolution." Plus, when Larry Summers suggested girls aren't as good as boys at science, "actual scientists got the vapors because he violated the principles not of science but of liberalism," proving to Goldberg that the liberals and the scientists are in cahoots -- sometimes even one and the same!

Thus, concluded Goldberg, "the idea that conservatives are anti-science is self-evident and self-pleasing liberal hogwash. I see no reason why conservatives should even argue the issue on their terms when it's so clearly offered in bad faith in the first place." That's settled science, buddy -- political science!

At the Washington Times, Amanda Read (who describes herself as an "unconventional scholar") lamented the tyranny of a "Darwinocracy" that seeks to impose its atheistic conceits on good American creationists.

"On the Origin of Species had not been written when the American system was being crafted," she wrote, "so the American founders didn't have to kiss the ring of the British theology-student-turned-naturalist who wrote it." Living Americans have not the Founders' advantage, but they still don't accept evolution, which Read applauded: "I don't find it too surprising coming from an American society that descends from revolutionaries who were skeptical of establishments," she said. "We could easily be wary of scientific or academic as well as political and religious establishments, if any start looking authoritarian enough."

What's authoritarian about evolutionists? Read cited a joke made by a Chinese paleontologist and quotes from the author of God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, neither of whom described creationists being sent to concentration camps or anything like that. But as long acquaintance with conservatives has taught us, for them merely being challenged on their beliefs, even their daffier ones, qualifies as persecution.

The topic of climate change is fresher and more controversial than evolution, which gave rightbloggers an opportunity to portray themselves as at least opportunistically interested in science. Scientists, they observed, sometimes obtain evidence that does not directly confirm predominant climate change theories, which proved in their eyes that the whole science thing was a cock-up and nobody really knows anything except global warming is bullshit. For example:

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