The anti-intellectual face of the GOP in the run-up to the US elections may play well at home, but for those of us outside the US, a spectre of an anti-science Republican administration is worrying. In a technologic age the potential for damage when the most powerful Administration in the world is again guided by a President who either doesn’t even know what questions to ask, or at least deliberately pretends not to know in order to retain the support of a misinformed constituency is not as far- fetched as it might appear. Think George W Bush.
With 52% of republicans reported as not accepting evolution, a sizeable proportion thinking the world is less than 10,000 years old and a leadership hopelessly compromised on medical research, it is hardly surprising that a succession of presidential hopefuls from that party have paraded their distain for science. Over recent years the Republicans have blocked genetic research, particularly stem cell research. Sarah Palin demonstrated breathtaking ignorance of the whole science of genetics by mocking fruit fly research saying it had nothing to do the with public good. Other senators assisted some state school systems to rid themselves of those pesky text books which insisted on teaching the science of evolution and worse, excluded creation science and its off-spring, intelligent design. Similarly business interests have been allowed to lobby Republican delegates to block environmental measures to reduce damaging emissions.
When Jon Huntsman the only Republican Presidential hopeful who had talked openly of the implications of scientific research on climate change, genetics and evolution was forced to withdraw his nomination, it left the field open to Mitt Romney who withdrew his prior support for climate change and scientific implications of abortion, Newt Gingrich who was even more obvious in his renouncing of previous science based views to accommodate lobbyists, Rick Santorum who has publically declared his absolute opposition to evolution which he identified as an extreme liberal view and Rick Perry who dealt with a drought in Texas by leading public prayers for rain (unsuccessfully!).
Lest you think I am sounding off without evidence, might I recommend Googling Katrina vanden Heuvel and a piece she entitled “The Republican’s War on Science and Reason” she wrote to introduce her new book for the Washington Post. Alternately you might like to check out Chris Mooney’s work: “The Republican War on Science and Unscientific America”.
Your views please.