Monday, October 10, 2005

How the Republican party morphed into the know-nothing party - the republican war on science

The GOP made a deal with two devils: regulated industries and religious fundamentalists. They shared an antipathy to science, and the GOP acquired that antipathy. From an author's comments:
TPMCafe || On the Origin of The Republican War on Science

...The modern conservative movement, which now dominates the Republican Party, has many key constituencies, but among those are religious conservatives and regulated industry. These two interest groups want very different things, but their desires frequently stray into scientific areas. For instance, religious conservatives want to challenge the way that evolution is taught in public schools, while business interests--ranging from tobacco to some fossil fuel companies--want to challenge the science demonstrating health or environmental dangers resulting from their products, or the way they go about doing business.

Catering to these constituencies, as the Republican Party has increasingly done, has inevitably led politicians and political appointees to humor what essentially amounts to their scientific lobbying. This has happened even as such lobbying has itself become state of the art, encompassing strategic, think tank driven campaigns designed to skew what's actually known on hot button scientific issues with big political ramifications, such as evolution and especially global warming. Both of these trends have converged under the Bush administration, a fact that goes a long way towards explaining the current crisis over the politicization of science.

There are other factors as well: Conservatives' distrust of government easily translates into a distrust of government-funded science or the science produced by federal agencies. Conservatives' distrust of academia easily translates into a willingness to dismiss cutting-edge science coming out of our leading institutions of higher learning. Roll it all up into a ball and I think you get precisely what we're seeing today: Repeated abuses and distortions of scientific information by the political right. That's not to say no one on the left has ever misused or distorted science. It's just that we now encounter a systematic problem from the GOP, one that's the combined result of history, ideology, politics, and the simple fact that Republicans are running the entire government (a situation that lends itself to abuses of power)...
I emphasized the comment on how lobbying has become so much more powerful than it once was. Evolution in action ...

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