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.

inheritthewind.jpg
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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48 comments
quietlite50
quietlite50

It's a limitation of the conservative brain that it wants to; no, it needs to, have the facts follow its beliefs, and not vice-versa. Otherwise, they could be wrong, and more importantly, it would make a mess of things; they might even be forced to change their beliefs, and we couldn't have that.  No sir !  It's sad to say it, but the conservative mind will surely be a large part of the anchor which sinks mankind.

Carl
Carl

Very informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.  epm training

gorak
gorak

Like nuclear science? Do you simply lack the intellect to support the safest, cleanest form of power ever devised?

jim
jim

Rightbloggers are correct. Science has a known liberal bias.

Meanwhile, Texas has just cut its funding for firefighters by about a third ... SCIENCE!

The 300 pound elephant in the room = locating & replicating solid proof refuting the theory of evolution would be a scientist's wet dream come true. Exploding an existing theory is to a scientist what a 300 game is to a bowler. Fact is, evolution had already given us manifold benefits by the time we discovered DNA - whereas the boons of ID theory, phrenology, Hollow Earthism or astrology remain to be discovered. It is educational to note that the same can be said of trickle-down theory or the philosophical soap-bubbles of Ayn Rand.

mfcken
mfcken

Well, George Bush II demonstrated "that stupidity is not a drawback in a President", at least as far as many independent voters were concerned in 2000 and 2004.  

 

F_Randy_Hullabaloo
F_Randy_Hullabaloo

Rich Lowry keeps his bow tie too tight, it's cut off the blood supply to his brain and makes him ramble incoherently.

UnholyMoses
UnholyMoses

"The research powerhouse CERN 'has embarked on an experiment aimed at addressing whether or not comic rays from deep space might be seeding clouds in Earth's atmosphere, influencing climate change ... '"

Best. Typo. Ever. Though it should read:

"The research powerhouse CERN 'has embarked on an experiment aimed at addressing whether or not rightbloggers penchant for douchebaggery are influenced by being abused in their childhood by a Karl Marx look-alike, or if they're just raging assholes who would rather see millions die than admit they were wrong ... '"

Fixed for greatest justice!!

Curmudg
Curmudg

Both Left and Right have sacred cows that they will not permit science to tip without an outcry. Unfortunately, RW zinging of LW sacred-cow science denial does not magically make the RW correct on, say, global warming.

If we, as a society, insist on believing that all groups have equal average IQ, despite some contrary evidence, it's not going to be the end of the world. [And if we accept the evidence, it's not as though whites emerge on top.] If we persist in believing that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas, there will be hell to pay. As Texas burns, the payment begins to come due. And this is just the beginning.

Consumer Unit 5012
Consumer Unit 5012

"The Post compared this alleged finding to the discovery of "an ossuary - an ancient burial box - containing the skeletal remains of Jesus of Nazareth," which in their view would prove "that Jesus was God made man who ascended to Heaven whole - bones and all - after his crucifixion"

Wait, what?  They actually wrote that?  

(Checks)

Ah, you've got that backwards.  I was about to accuse them of failing logic forever, but their point was that finding those bones would DISprove that Jesus ascended bodily.  You might want to re-write that part.

Substance McGravitas
Substance McGravitas

In no sense that the ordinary person would understand the term is Rick Perry “anti-science.”

Get it?  Innocence!  Lowry you sly dog.

Scott Somerville
Scott Somerville

I went to Dartmouth College in order to become a research biochemist but wound up studying philosophy instead. Thirty years and a Harvard Law School degree later, I'm VERY unhappy with the politicized nature of "science" today. I have become convinced that Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" accurately describes the difference between our cherished myths of the purity of the scientific method and the messy reality of tax-funded research.

Post-modern philosophers like Paul Feyerabend argue that science has become the new "established religion," and I agree with SOME of his criticism. If Feyerabend is correct, one would predict that the chief opponents of the new religion would be the adherents of the old. The fundamentalist critique of modern science doesn't PROVE Feyerabend right, but it certainly sets out a hypothesis worth exploring.

We'll know whether the knuckle-dragging anti-science troglodytes are right or wrong in a few years as the global warming hypothesis continues to be explored. The right-wing critics of anthropogenic global warming argue that THEY are on the side of science while people like Al Gore have sold out to political group-think.  Give us a few more years of satellite data and basic research on subjects like cloud formation and we'll be able to tell whether Rick Perry or Al Gore is the better scientist.

MarkInOhio
MarkInOhio

I stopped reading when the author started quoting Jonah Goldberg. Nothing the Doughy Pantload has to say is of interest to me, ever.

Otisah
Otisah

Galileo was Marxist before Marxism was cool.

Hob
Hob

There's a possible typo: "comic rays from deep space" may be a plausible explanation for the origin of Jonah Goldberg, but they're probably not what CERN is studying.

McSalmon
McSalmon

It angers me that the fact that a major faction of our political world is devoted to not facts or analysis, but to 'stuff that appeases the clueless' is not worthy of debate in the general media.

I think my favorite is the Howard Portnoy: Why are we calling conservatives anti-science, when it's the liberals who have failed to discuss my burning questions on why the lesser peoples of the world should have my money? This seems to be where it all comes down to, for them. There is no problem so big that I should have to spend any of my money on it. It's the politics of spite, and damned be the nation that pries the tiniest dime from their death grip, so long as a black guy might gain the benefits? I suppose the post-apocalyptic wasteland they shall inherit will be marked 'Whites Only", and they shall have everything they ever wanted.

EndOfTheWorld
EndOfTheWorld

E pur si muove.

Conservatives have never been that comfortable around science, what with its aggressively democratic approach to the truth. Don't believe that Mr. Wizard can fit an egg into that glass bottle? Do it at home! Here's how. You can't make the Theory of Evolution go away just by water-boarding the National Science Foundation. You can spend every last dime of Richard Mellon Scaife's and the fortunes of both Koch brothers hiring Regent university grads to flood the airwaves with ads and editorials about how belief in a heliocentric solar system contributes to vagracy, homosexuality and atheism. You can do all that, but the universe isn't some Democratic politician who'll cave to your need to be the center of it.

Trademark Litigation
Trademark Litigation

Our definition of who is a human has been changing since the beginning of the rights era, which you could conservatively peg to the 17th century. That’s what I’m referring to, not what you outline (which seems to me to be the vexing issue of free-market social democracy more than human rights…)

McSalmon
McSalmon

I agree with this wholeheartedly, and without reservation. EXCEPT! to point out that elephants are typically much larger than 300 pounds. Maybe for that 7 inch elephant from the Chuck Jones cartoons.

edroso
edroso

Ah, it is different from what I saw. Here's the key part:

"Or, it would be if the remains didn't come under the control of some Christian organization whose leaders had a vested interest in suppressing reports about the discovery."

So the global-warmists are compared to Christian dead-enders trying to suppress the non-divinity of Christ. It's insane, in other words, but not in the way I thought. Will make a note.

Barry_D
Barry_D

". If Feyerabend is correct, one would predict that the chief opponents of the new religion would be the adherents of the old. The fundamentalist critique of modern science doesn't PROVE Feyerabend right, but it certainly sets out a hypothesis worth exploring."

Actually, no - your logic is really bad there.

Minstrel de Saussure
Minstrel de Saussure

Two problems with your post:

-Saying "If science had in fact become a religion, we'd expect the previous religion to attack it. And look, they are!" is about as solid a form of evidence as "If the United States was a terrorist state, we'd expect other terrorists to attack it. And look, they are!" The form "If X is Y, we'd expect to see other Y interact with them and they are" is such a vague and dilute argument as to be meaningless. Entities interact (whether friendly or hostile) for myriad reasons, so claiming it's de facto evidence of one's pet theory is beyond disingenuous.

-"We'll know if [the anti-science types] are right when anthropomorphic climate change is either more strongly supported or debunked" is also problematic, because simply making a contradiction ("X is wrong") is quite different from making a reasoned argument against something. Anyone can select a scientific theory and say "I think this is wrong." Even if that theory is eventually overthrown, that doesn't make that person "right," because they put forth no argument that can be deemed right. It means they (for whatever reason--political, faith, guess) took an unsubstantiated stand and ending up on the "right side" is no more meaningful than insisting that a fair coin will end up heads on the next toss and being "right."

Robert M.
Robert M.

"How to Defend Society Against Science" (reproduced here, for instance: http://www.galilean-library.or... contains, among other knee-slappers, claims that science has unfairly dismissed the eminently useful of telepathy and telekinesis.  Feyerabend was a crank.

commie atheist
commie atheist

Great idea.  Let's wait until any possibility of reversing the effects of what we're doing to the climate is gone.  Then we can utter a collective "my bad," and retire to our underground lairs.

Angrygeometer
Angrygeometer

If I felt as comfortable dispensing legal advice as you feel comfortable dispensing advice about science, I'd end up in prison.  Is it because the law is more real and more important than science?  Do you think it's a good idea when people do that with respect to the law?  Of course not.  So why on earth do you feel comfortable holding forth on subjects you know fuck-all about? 

"The man who represents himself on science has a fool for a scientist" doesn't have quite the same ring, but isn't it just as true?

McSalmon
McSalmon

Scientists and other theorists examine data to develop a model, but the conservatives already HAVE their model - humans aren't causing global warming, people didn't evolve from other life forms, it's a waste of money to subside programs that help minorities, etc etc etc. The conservatives aren't interested in seeking the truth, but to be proven right by hook or by crook. Rick Perry is not on the side of science, because he's more interested in being elected by telling people they are right just like him. People who actually study the matter, rather than sit on their asses at a desk all day, are politically beholden to some elite political class who hides the truth from the Good People who will vote for Rick Perry for telling 'Truth To Power'.

Jim McNary
Jim McNary

"I went to Dartmouth College in order to become a research biochemist but wound up studying philosophy instead. Thirty years and a Harvard Law School degree later, I'm VERY unhappy with the politicized nature of "science" today."

Translation: "I am a failed biochemist and also a CERTIFIED HARVARD GENIUS, a fact that I spam all over every single comment thread, e.g.:

'I'm a constitutional lawyer (went to Harvard Law School with Barack Obama and graduated with honors in 1992 and spent the next 14 years fighting for civil rights at a non-profit organization) and I agree with every point Perry makes here except for raising the debt ceiling... and I'm reconsidering that one.'

So believe me when I say that science sucks. And don't you dare call me a concern troll.

"Give us a few more years of satellite data and basic research on subjects like cloud formation and we'll be able to tell whether Rick Perry or Al Gore is the better scientist."

Here's an analogy.

There are two oncologists. The right-wing oncologist looks at every patient and says "He's gonna die, because God wills it." He's right 100% of the time. The left-wing oncologist uses radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery to prolong the life of his patients. He's successful 70% of the time.

Which is the better oncologist?

Jim McNary
Jim McNary

"I went to Dartmouth College in order to become a research biochemist but wound up studying philosophy instead. Thirty years and a Harvard Law School degree later, I'm VERY unhappy with the politicized nature of "science" today."Translation: "I am a failed biochemist and also a CERTIFIED HARVARD GENIUS, a fact that I spam all over every single comment thread, e.g.:http://www.ibtimes.com/article... a constitutional lawyer (went to Harvard Law School with Barack Obama and graduated with honors in 1992 and spent the next 14 years fighting for civil rights at a non-profit organization) and I agree with every point Perry makes here except for raising the debt ceiling... and I'm reconsidering that one.'So believe me when I say that science sucks. And don't you dare call me a concern troll."Give us a few more years of satellite data and basic research on subjects like cloud formation and we'll be able to tell whether Rick Perry or Al Gore is the better scientist."Here's an analogy. There are two oncologists. The right-wing oncologist looks at every patient and says "He's gonna die." He's right 100% of the time. The left-wing oncologist uses radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery to prolong the life of his patients. He's successful 70% of the time.Which is the better oncologist?

Angrygeometer
Angrygeometer

I was going to major in science, but those 8 AM biochemistry labs seriously cut into my binge drinking.  Therefore, liberals are stupid.

It's pathetic you think that any criticism of science you can cook up wouldn't also apply to the analytic philosophy you're basing it upon.  You should be flogged to death with a copy of the collected works of Karl Popper and Rudolf Carnap. 

Isaac Netwon
Isaac Netwon

Phillips Exeter, Dartmouth and Harvard Law. There's your problem, dude. If you'd been homeschooled, you'd already know the answer.

coozledad
coozledad

I went to Dartmouth to become a research biochemist whereupon I discovered Gong and methaqualone. My frat brothers called me "the seeker". Once my trust fund kicked in, I switched to a double major in philosophy and modern dance.

Jim McNary
Jim McNary

"I went to Dartmouth College in order to become a research biochemist but wound up studying philosophy instead. Thirty years and a Harvard Law School degree later, I'm VERY unhappy with the politicized nature of "science" today."Translation: 

"I am a failed biochemist and also a CERTIFIED HARVARD GENIUS, a fact that I spam all over every single comment thread, e.g.:

http://www.ibtimes.com/article... a constitutional lawyer (went to Harvard Law School with Barack Obama and graduated with honors in 1992 and spent the next 14 years fighting for civil rights at a non-profit organization) and I agree with every point Perry makes here except for raising the debt ceiling... and I'm reconsidering that one.'So believe me when I say that science sucks. And don't you dare call me a concern troll."Give us a few more years of satellite data and basic research on subjects like cloud formation and we'll be able to tell whether Rick Perry or Al Gore is the better scientist."Here's an analogy. There are two oncologists. The right-wing oncologist looks at every patient and says "He's gonna die." He's right 100% of the time. The left-wing oncologist uses radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery to prolong the life of his patients. He's successful 70% of the time.Which is the better oncologist?

anthony
anthony

That's the best you can come up with? Maybe the people who are wrong are right!

commie atheist
commie atheist

I believe that Jonah Goldberg was the end result of "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

McSalmon
McSalmon

Yeah, but it will make them feel better, knowing that they were right all along. They know they are wrong, and they know that any discussion on a fair and equal basis of the facts with experts in that field would show them to be wrong. If they thought they were right, they would have shown their cards and hashed it out. But, that is not the case, they know they're holding a pair of threes, and they're just going to bluff their way through by pushing a few million in ad buys into the pot and raising the stakes to intimidate everyone.

I forget who said it but 'You don't need to lie about good ideas'.

hell's littlest angel
hell's littlest angel

I remember a christian children's magazine that used the hard-boiled egg into a glass bottle trick to demonstrate that god can do anything.

Consumer Unit 5012
Consumer Unit 5012

Besides, we already know global climates are changing, just like the DFHs have been warning us since 1989.  Now the denialists are retreating to either "well, maybe it's happening, but it's NOT OUR FAULT" or "NAH NAH NAH I CAN'T HEAR YOU".

SFAW
SFAW

"My frat brothers called me "the seeker". "

'Cause you were searching low and hi-igh? Did you ask Timothy Leary? Or Bobby Dylan?

Roger Williams
Roger Williams

I went to Dartmouth and had a three-way with Dinesh D'Souza and Laura Ingraham. I blame myself for their breakup.

susanoftexas
susanoftexas

I studied synchronized swimming and textiles. They called me Aqua Velvet.

susanoftexas
susanoftexas

Perpetually learning by hindsight is easy but it leaves a trail of destruction behind it. Wouldn't it be nice if people had a way of gathering information and making decisions based on facts and reason? Because looking for an authority to follow and declaring that he is therefore an expert is frankly stupid.

Dartmouth and Harvard notwithstanding.

EndOfTheWorld
EndOfTheWorld

Ah yes, who can forget those extra verses in Job 40-41? "Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? ... Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? Canst thou summon an egg to the inside of a glass bottle, lo the diameter of the bottle's opening maketh the task seem impossible? I, your God, can totally do that shit all dayeth if I felt like it."

Tehanu
Tehanu

There's a seeker born every minute.... (h/t Firesign Theatre)

coozledad
coozledad

I'd forgotten that song. You know what's terrifying? I think a band I was in covered it.God damn you, recreational drugs!

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