This morning, Andrea Seabrook of National Public Radio cast
Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry as “against science.” Seabrook’s report cites their support for creationism being taught alongside evolution in schools, and their skepticism about anthropogenic global warming, as evidence of their “skepticism.”
Seabrook’s story sets the stage for tonight’s Republican presidential debate, hosted by NBC and Politico at the Reagan presidential library, by portraying the GOP primary race as being dominated by “socially conservative, religious Republicans.” She paints Perry and Bachmann as particularly extreme in their views, using laggard John Huntsman as a foil to demonstrate that “[t]here are many in the GOP who strongly support scientific research and evidence-based policy making”--as if Bachmann and Perry do not.
One episode Seabrook uses to illustrate Perry’s supposed lack of support for science is a campaign stop where, she says, “a child asked Perry what he thinks about evolution.”
Seabrook neglects to mention that the child was being used as a political prop
by his mother, whom Perry politely ignored as she prompted her son with questions: “Ask him why he doesn’t believe in science.” Seabrook replicates the mother’s bias exactly.
The sleight of hand in Seabrook’s story is evident in her attempt to describe “skepticism” of a scientific theory as hostility to science itself. In fact, skepticism is the very essence of science.
The theory of anthropogenic global warming is increasingly vulnerable to skepticism because of the emergence of new scientific data about how climate works--and new evidence that past data sets used to establish the theory had been fudged.
The test of whether someone is hostile to science is whether they would continue to hold a particular view of the world no matter how much credible evidence they were presented to the contrary. By that standard, it is Democrats who are hostile to science, as they cling to the most radical “climate change” theories against mounting evidence, because of their ideological commitment to government intervention in the economy.
On evolution, believers of all faiths--including many scientists--continue to profess the idea that God created the world. That does not mean creationism should be taught alongside evolution. But if belief in creation and evolution are mutually exclusive, as Seabrook seems to think they are, then why are Democrats who claim to believe in the latter never asked if they exclude God from their thinking about the nature of the world?
[The majority of] Democrats who answered that question honestly would demonstrate that they, like the vast majority of human beings, have not completely resolved the centuries-old dilemma between scientific inquiry and religious faith. Regardless, the questions politicians are elected to answer are those of cost versus benefit, not God versus man. At the very least, belief in “science” ought not be a media litmus test for Republicans alone.