God Bless the USA (and Its Scientific Capacity)

By Chris Mooney | November 1, 2010 1:16 pm

Thanks to Sean Schmidt, I’ve been introduced to yet another pro-science musician: country music star Brad Paisley. I didn’t follow country before, so I’d never heard of him, but wow–Paisley’s song “Wecome to the Future” is just about the most stirring paean to American technological ingenuity and progress that I’ve ever heard or seen. And the whole message comes wrapped in a stars-and-stripes packaging that even a Tea Partier could love.

Watching Paisley’s video, I don’t see how anyone can question the fundamental premise of the Rock Stars of Science™ campaign--that musicians are some of our most powerful allies in spreading the good word about science and its importance to our lives, health, and national future.

Watching this puts me in mind of something about tomorrow’s election, by the way, and I wonder if others would agree.

Seeing those images of windmills, and hearing kids talking about how they want to be scientists while country rock jangles in the background–it all makes me think that even if we do elect a crop of know-nothing climate deniers tomorrow, the message about clean energy and keeping America ahead in technology is not something that can ultimately be kept down. It’s simply too resonant, and too powerful. Too groovy, and too infectious.

That’s the reason clean energy and tech innovators are expected to soundly defeat dirty out-of-state oil interests in the Prop 23 showdown in California. The clean energy and tech guys have got a much better message, because a) no one can question their fundamental contribution to America’s prosperity; and b) they have the future (“Welcome to the Future”) on their side to boot.

We’re very lucky that’s the case. And we’re very lucky to have musicians like Brad Paisley singing the same tune.

Comments (10)

  1. JMW

    Mmm…I’m more pessimistic. All it would take is 10-15 years of the country’s school boards being run by anti-science trolls to raise a generation of kids who have no clue what science is or how it works…and then it’ll be too late.

    What is hopeful is that the generation going through school now is the “boom echo” generation – the kids of the baby boomers, and by the time they are running North America, they will be much more numerous than the cohorts that both precede and succeed them.

  2. This is laudable, but I too am not very optimistic. It basically takes a critical mass of ignorant people to set the country back by decades. I am not saying they will destroy everything, but they will affect things badly enough so that it may not be possible to reclaim this country’s lost glory in scientific leadership. And of course, when it comes to climate legislation, there is definitely such a thing as it being too late. Plus, the current disgruntlement is a result of several co-dependent factors converging together; growing religious fundamentalism, worsening economic conditions, overpopulation, increasing resource scarcity, misguided views about increasing immigration and the fears that “foreigners are taking our jobs”. All these factors are going to be around for a long time, and they will keep contributing to fear which in turn will fuel anti-science and irrational mindsets. There will obviously be a small band of dedicated, reasoned people. The question is whether they will be enough to make a difference on the national level.

  3. Nullius in Verba

    “There will obviously be a small band of dedicated, reasoned people.”

    Obviously.

    It’s a bit like the final scene in a zombie movie, don’t you know? When the last lonely remnant of mankind, besieged and with dwindling supplies, stares out across the surrounding hundred million-strong army of hungry Republicans, their glowing red eyes fleetingly illuminated by the light of burning buildings. “Brains! Brains!” they groan. But firm of mien are the steely-eyed Democrats, standing erect on the battlements, waiting hopefully for the new dawn.

  4. Stanley

    Do you know that America is heading for another depression?

  5. @3: Well-said; a disaster movie analogy would also hold well. However, IMHO you are being a little unfair to Republicans by painting such a black and white picture. I would also add sensible, moderate Republicans to that all-Democrat band.

  6. FUAG

    I think the “fear” of evangelicals taking over the country is perpetuated by liberal media. Yes, they are a dangerous bunch in some regards, but their numbers are dwindling not growing. I know a few “Tea Partiers” and none of them are religious. There is no way this country will ever pass anti-science / pro religion laws. The polls show that those supporting such initiatives are in the minority.

    The “Church” is fighting for it’s life at this point. The old guard has a lot of money and a great belief in what they grew up with. Unfortunately for them, the newer generations have too much access to information to allow them to buy into what the Church is selling. (take it from a kid with two evangelical parents)

  7. Guy

    There was a time when the American people (especially conservatives) had a can-do attitude when it came to addressing our problems. Now, suddenly our problems are just too big to even worry about, or they deny that the problem even exists to begin with.

  8. Nullius in Verba

    #5,

    It wasn’t the Republicans I was being unfair to. :-)

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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