Monday, November 17, 2014

The anti intellectual Right

Pope Francis and the G.O.P.’s Bad Science - The New Yorker

... They have Inhofe, who, beginning in January, will possess the authority to interfere with nearly any scientific initiative that the Obama Administration introduces.  You can find the particulars of  his position on climate change, and scientific research generally, in his 2012 book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.” Inhofe frequently invokes Genesis in his battle against science because, well, he is a humble man: “My point is, God’s still up there,’’ he has said. “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous.”

So a man who believes that the international scientific consensus is a “hoax” will be in charge of the committee that approves funding for scientific programs in a nation desperately in need of  improving its scientific literacy. If anything, the appalling Cruz is worse; he won’t address evolution directly, but he is an energetic climate skeptic, an opponent of NASA funding, and, of course, the man who, last year, almost single-handedly shut down the government of the United States, which, as Scientific American has pointed out, caused serious and permanent damage to American science.
The article goes on to illustrate that this is a modern sickness of the Right of American politics:
Political leaders never used to care who scientists voted for or whether they believed in God. Scientists were not seen as Democrats or Republicans. (This change did not begin with Cruz and his Luddite colleagues.) In 2006, I wrote a piece for The New Yorker on the Bush Administration’s war on science. It noted that “Vannevar Bush was a conservative who opposed the New Deal, and not quietly. Yet President Roosevelt didn’t hesitate to appoint him, or to take his advice. In 1959, after Dwight Eisenhower created the position of science adviser, in the wake of Sputnik, the Harvard chemist George B. Kistiakowsky assumed the post. Jerome Wiesner, a Democrat who subsequently became president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sat on the Science Advisory Committee—which met each month with Kistiakowsky and often with the President. When John F. Kennedy took office, Kistiakowsky and Wiesner simply switched roles.” None of that would be conceivable today.

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