Nature Editorial Slams GOP For Anti-Science Tendencies

There is no getting around the fact that the U.S. Republican Party simply hates science.  It didn’t used to be that way.  But it is now, and the timing of a recent uptick in this phenomenon couldn’t be worse.  

The anti-science strain pervading the right wing in the United States is the last thing the country needs in a time of economic challenge.”

That is the subtitle of an excellent editorial today in the journal Nature, “Science Scorned,” which discusses how dangerous this trend is, pointing out that:

There is a growing anti-science streak on the American right that could have tangible societal and political impacts on many fronts — including regulation of environmental and other issues and stem-cell research.”

Nowhere is the right wing’s anti-science stance more starkly apparent than on the issue of climate change, as Nature notes:

Denialism over global warming has become a scientific cause célèbre within the movement. [Rush] Limbaugh, for instance, who has told his listeners that “science has become a home for displaced socialists and communists”, has called climate-change science “the biggest scam in the history of the world”.

Nature is a highly respected journal, and it is encouraging to see the editors take a strong stand against the GOP’s betrayal of science and reason. Science should never be confused with politics, but the recent antics of the Republican Party leave no alternative but to acknowledge that the Right’s attack on science must be addressed directly by the scientific community. 

Author Chris Mooney dove into this topic in great depth in his New York Times bestselling book “The Republican War On Science,” and other outlets have contributed more recent commentary on this scary trend as well.  

RL Miller posted an excellent blog recently on Grist titled “Stupid goes viral: The Climate Zombies of the new GOP.”  And Grist’s own David Roberts expanded on that piece to make abundantly clear the fact that the anti-science crusade launched by the GOP is not happening in isolation, but rather as part of a larger GOP effort to undermine public confidence in respected institutions, from academia to media, government to science. 

But GetEnergySmartNow! notes that, at least for now, the general public still holds science and scientists in high regard, referring to a 2009 Pew Research poll. 

That confidence must remain if the U.S. is ever going to address global warming in a meaningful way.

The Economist pointed out last week:

It is troubling that the contemporary state of American political discourse obliges people who know better to stifle themselves on this issue [climate change]. So long as segments of the American political elite feed voters cynical lines on global warming, and large numbers of voters believe them, America will continue to get the political leadership it deserves, and face the serious consequences of inaction.”

Unfortunately, the biggest loser in the 2010 elections might not be the Democratic Party, but science itself.


As I’ve commented on a few other blogs, the Democrats should be hammering the GOP with the climate change issue. Run ads exposing the denial PR industry, show who Monckon and others really are, and how they are invited as “experts” on climate, for Senate and House committee hearings. Rep. Joe (apologise to BP) Barton (R-Texas) introducing Monckton as “one of the most knowledgeabe if not the most knowledgeable on the skeptic side”. They recently had him as their ‘only’ expert climate witness at a House hearing.

Democrats could run ads displaying the long list of scientific organizations that agree with AGW.
Then the short list of 2 who don’t agree.- the Canadian and American Associations of Petroleum Geologists.
then say
“Republican only believe those groups on list #2. They are dead wrong on the most important issue in history.” or something like that.

I place comments like these all over the internet, major newspapers, CNN, AP, CBS,etc. I don’t even wait for an environmental story, anything politics is fair game.
And my answer to -vote out the incumbants or Dems, as tea baggers are chanting, is Vote Out the Deniers.

A focused assault like this might help salvage something from the mid term elections. Instead of wincing and being defensive because more deniers are being nominated, Dems should turn it against them.

The Nature article and the like are a big plus.

Embarrass the mainstream media into reporting on Nature’s article and doing a better job in general. What is done at these blogs needs to be brought mainstream. Maybe starting with Rachel Maddow and the crew at MSNBC.

Another comment I run regularly at these news outlets goes something like.
“Do you trust Fox New to inform you on global warming?”

“Then you should know who their climate experts are.”
-then go on to describe Steve Milloy- paid fossil fuel lobbyist, his connections with tobacco etc, Myron Ebbel, Steve Burnett and their qualifications etc.

Just maybe the moderates will run screaming from the mob of deniers and extremists.