Here’s the charge, from Chris Mooney:
Political conservatives in the U.S. today have overwhelming problems with science. They reject, in large numbers, mainstream and accepted knowledge on fundamental things about humans and the planet”“evolution, global warming, to name a few. I also recently posted about how systematically conservatives undermine science with respect to reproductive health.
And this is still just the tip of the iceberg.
Ken Green says WTF?
Before firing off his own rebuttal at AEI, Green counterpunched in the comments section (which I don’t see any way to link to) of Mooney’s blog. Green’s rejoinder, to my mind, has merit and is concisely and cogently made in this particular comment:
Chris’ argument is that the right is more anti-science than the left. I agree that many on the right reject science regarding evolution, and (somewhat) on climate change, both of which are bad. I’ve written about that at AEI. However, I think that the left is FAR more prone to present things as being “scientific” that are mostly pseudo-scientific nonsense, and they are very half-hearted about retracting them when they’ve propagated and caused harm.
Thus, if I were adding up the ledger, I’d score two “anti-science” points to the right for evolution and climate change, but about 20 “anti-science” points to the left for exaggerating the dangers of pesticides, herbicides, chemicals in general, radiation, conventional agriculture, plastics, paper, artificial sweeteners, vaccines, GM organisms, aquaculture, etc.
This is a valid counter-argument. Green is essentially saying that the anti-science manifestation on the Left (masked as pseudo-science) is different than that on the Right (which is outright rejection of established science). And that the Left has more anti-science strikes against it than the Right.
What Green fails to address is that an anti-evolution pose and climate change rejectionism have become closely associated with the GOP, because of the influence of religious conservatives and the Tea Party. There are no similarly high profile anti-science stances associated with Democrat leaders or policymakers. For example, President Obama, as Mooney pointed out, is pro-nuclear. Here’s another: The Obama administration has made regulatory decisions on GMO foods that have upset the lefty, anti-GMO types at Grist and Mother Jones. And so on.
So when looked at this way, there is no equivalence in anti-science attitudes between establishment Republicans and Democrats–as reflected in the kinds of science-related issues that are now fixtures in the political landscape. It’s pretty clear which party is getting the anti-science reputation and why.
It’s also understandable that Green and other science-respecting conservatives don’t like this label, but their beef should be more with the direction the Republican party has chosen.
There’s a lot of teeth gnashing in green circles over the Solyndra fallout. Even if it wasn’t an election year, Republicans would be cynically milking the story for all it’s worth, and that spigot shows no sign of going dry anytime soon.
But let’s at least be honest and acknowledge that this scandal has its roots in a bipartisan culture that thrives inside the beltway.
Where do you think the actual story is headed?
This is the suggestion from a Columbia University researcher, whose work I discuss in a post at the Yale Forum on Climate Change & the Media.
If you have a nuanced response, give it to me over there.
any shale gas finds raise our exploitable reserves of fossil fuels, just as we should be reducing them. The world’s minerals companies have already found far greater reserves than we can afford to burn without triggering climate breakdown. What is the point of prospecting for new supplies?
I thought the point (speaking only of natural gas) was make coal go extinct and buy time for renewables to scale up and new generation nuclear to come on line?