Stand Up for Science this Tuesday

In a post entitled, “Where are They Now,” RedStateRabble points out a difference between the Kansas BOE creationist political message during the primary (when they were fighting for votes between Republicans) and their message during the runup to the general election. Take a look at it, then come back here, because there’s more below the fold…

Creationists bray about living by faith. Creationists publically decry any scientific conclusion that goes against their religious preconceptions. (Well, at least as regards evolution; they don’t seem to mind that opthamologists don’t use spit-mud eyedrops anymore.) Bear this pained trumpeting of their faith in mind as you consider the truth RedStateRabble has brought to light: these creationists haven’t made a peep about their creationism in this general election.

The reason the creationists have assiduously avoided talking about creationism in this general election is plain: creationism resonates only with Republican voters.

The reason this contrast between grandstanding for creationism and not making a peep about it is important is also plain: their advisors – who, in scientific fashion, used data to reach a conclusion that probably wasn’t favored or desired by the candidate, candidates who clearly would have liked to still be trumpeting creationism – have told those creationist BOE candidates to not mention it, lest they guarantee a loss.

Chris Mooney’s book, “The Republican War on Science,” certainly seemed to be a partisan book. But one can’t judge proverbial books by their covers, or actual ones for that matter: Mooney documented abuse after abuse of science by both parties, and so had a fairly non-partisan message to deliver in it. Reality being what it is, however, most of the examples in his book, of necessity, had to be examples of Republicans abusing science.

We here at the Thumb think science should be non-partisan. I’m sure I speak for all of the authors here in saying that it would be great if we lived in a world where one political party was not clearly associated with anti-science and both parties uniformly fielded candidates worth voting for. Indeed, we try to keep the Thumb as non-partisan and areligious as possible in deference to science’s pluralistic community: if there is no such thing as Christian or Muslim or Atheist science, surely there is no such thing as Republican or Democrat science.

But I suspect I write for many of our authors and readers when I endorse this excerpt from Mooney’s closing chapter and highlight its message in these days before the midterms:

Yet if [Republican moderates have attempted to prevent anti-science initiatives by the Republican party], we can detect no evidence of [their] effectiveness. Rather, we see the opposite… In this context, and considering its track record, we have no choice but to politically oppose the anti-science right wing of the Republican Party. This does not necessarily entail an outright partisan agenda. Encouraging the electoral success of Republican moderates with good credentials on science could politically have just as constructive an effect as backing Democrats.

But if we care about science and believe that it should play a crucial role in decisions about our future, we must steadfastly oppose further political gains by the modern Right. This political movement has patently demonstrated that it will not defend the integrity of science in any case in which science runs afoul of its core political constituencies. In so doing, it has ceded any right to govern a technologically advanced and sophisticated nation. Our future relies on our intelligence, but today’s Right – failing to grasp this fact in virtually every political situation in which it really matters, and nourishing disturbing anti-intellectual tendencies – cannot deliver us there successfully or safely. If it will not come to its senses, we must cast it aside.

There’s a lot riding on these elections next Tuesday, involving issues that make mention of, for example, the first NSF budget cut since Nixon or fighting BOE creationists in Kansas seem vulgar by comparison. But if for no other reason, remember science when you cast your votes this Tuesday. Look in your own districts, figure out which candidates are worth voting for (or worth voting against), and stand up for science (if nothing else) this Tuesday.