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Monday, August 29, 2011

Calling the GOP "Anti-Science" is Being Generous

An angry Zeus casts thunderboltsAs a noted climatologist and expert on all things geological, Rep. Michele Bachmann can say with some degree of certainty that she knows what caused both Hurricane Irene and the earthquake that shook the east coast last week.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians," she told a crowd in Florida yesterday. "We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending." Let me just point out that the right is accusing President Obama of politicizing Irene, then move on.

Shelly's not politicizing Irene, though. She's just spelling out cold, hard facts. All this happened because God has an opinion on government spending in the US. Seems to me that a being capable of miracles would be able to be a lot more clear -- maybe writing "STOP SPENDING SO MUCH MONEY!" across the sky in fire. But never mind that; the guy who supposedly runs the entire cosmos has a problem with the ratio of revenues to expenditures in one of the world's two-hundred-fifty-some nations. Call him detail-oriented.

Of course, it pays to point out that Bachmann rejects climate science. "I don't think it has been established as a fact that global warming is the issue of the day," she said in 2010. "One thing we need to do is look at the science." Think about that for a second. The evidence isn't good enough for her to conclude that global warming in a man-made phenomenon, but the science is solid that an angry god causes earthquakes and hurricanes. Worse, it takes someone of great faith to decipher what these earthquakes and hurricanes actually mean. This is the sort of reasoning that gets virgins thrown into volcanoes.


Writing about GOP candidate John Huntsman's assertion that his party is the "anti-science party," Paul Krugman finds a great example of GOP flateartherism in Rick Perry.

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as "just a theory," one that has "got some gaps in it" -- an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples' attention was what he said about climate change: "I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change."

That's a remarkable statement -- or maybe the right adjective is "vile."

Perry is, of course, wrong and Krugman goes on to spell out why, but we've all seen this argument destroyed often enough to know how it comes apart. I won't bore you with it here. My point in bringing up Perry is that, while pretending there isn't enough evidence to support anthropogenic global warming, he's more than willing to promote prayer as the answer to everything. As his state suffered from drought and wildfires, Perry called on residents to pray for rain. Belief in a demonstrable greenhouse effect and the acknowledging of rising temperatures that are a matter of public record is bad science, while asking favors of your cosmic buddy (a buddy for whose existence there is no evidence, by the way) is simply level-headed logic.

This is the problem with Republicans across the entire range of issues; they aren't just wrong, they're stubbornly wrong in the face of history and evidence. And worse, they hypocritically attack the evidence, while promoting beliefs for which there is no evidence at all. They believe whatever it is that makes them happiest, then rationalize away any arguments -- no matter how solid -- that would dispel that blissful ignorance. When is proof not proof? When you're a Republican and you don't want to hear it.

Global warming? That's just God having a tantrum. Evolution? It's hogwash; the science is better explained by a story about a talking snake and a magic apple. It even exists in economic policy; with the Bush tax cuts failing to create jobs for a decade, the belief -- despite the evidence staring them right in the face -- is that tax cuts create jobs. And now God apparently is weighing in on that, too.

I'd go beyond Huntsman's claim that the GOP is the "anti-science party." They're the anti-progress party, the regress party. They're the magical thinking party. The "let's try sorcery" party. The "believe what you want to believe, because it feels good" party. The party that, when it finds itself heading straight for a cliff, guns the engine -- because God loves them so much that he'll turn the cliff into a bridge to paradise.

One thing you can't call them is the "rational party." Not even close.


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