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ETpro's avatar

Should we add "War on Science" to the GOP's battle fronts?

Asked by ETpro (34469points) April 11th, 2012

Tennessee Republicans have pushed through a law allowing the teaching of creationism, “intelligent design”, global warming as a “conspiracy” and other right wing Luddite causes as science in Tennessee schools. Lousiana already has such a measure in place.

Is this a win for the right, or will it lead to a Pyrrhic victory in today’s technological world? How competitive will America be in the 21st century if politics and religion drag us back before Darwin? How can universities deal with admissions when some students are coming to them from areas where junk science substitutes for the real thing?

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17 Answers

tom_g's avatar

We’ve been over this a bunch here. In fact, in a thread very similar to this one, many people here flaunt their misunderstanding of science in a way that only seems possible in a climate of extreme anti-intellectualism and a tolerance of stupidity.

As smart as Stephen Jay Gould was, his non-overlapping magisteria view was asinine.

Edit: My “we’ve been over this a bunch here” isn’t meant to say this isn’t a good question. It is a great question. I think we should be talking about this more. I just suspect this thread will mirror the other threads which are full of “but science is always changing”, or “science is corrupt”.

ragingloli's avatar

I find it baffling that they can even pass such a law, after it has been judged in the past, by a conservative judge no less, that teaching creationism and ID in science class is unconstitutional.

janbb's avatar

@ragingloli In America, as I suspect in much of the world, no battle is ever really one for good and legal precedent seems to mean squat.

marinelife's avatar

This will be stopped in its tracks. Ridicule of these students and policies will win.

rebbel's avatar

Although scientists and universities need funds to keep going on with existing, and start new research, I am sure that they are that bright (brighter than the people who passed that law) that they will continue anyway with their work.
Scientists always have broken boundaries, no matter what resistence they had to fight against.

Can the (new) USA government not start a War on War, for a change?

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes.
Add to that GOP bizarre take on science with the life begins before pregnancy laws passed in Arizona.

gasman's avatar

I’m not as optimistic as @marinelife—maybe ridicule will win out in the long run, but that might be another 200 years! Much of the US still clings to anti-intellectual values entwined with religious fundamentalism. Young-earth creationism, which denies both biology and geology, is eagerly embraced by the church-going masses, with no apparent signs of decline. When you haven’t gone past 8th grade and your only source of continuing adult education are the sermons you attend on Wednesdays and Sundays, plus Fox News, the prospects for a wider view of reality are nil.

wundayatta's avatar

Technically, we can’t add a war on science to the Republican agenda since it has already been there for decades, if not generations. It is clear that the Republicans, allied as they are with fundamentalist Christians, are more likely to end up having to introduce religion into the schools than Dems are. Religion, of course, may not be pushed in schools, although it may be studied.

Religion, I think the courts have been pretty consistent in deciding, is not science in any way, shape, or form. As a theory, God enjoys as much evidentiary support as a giant invisible purple panda in the sky that makes the wind blow. If you introduce one theory without evidence, you must introduce any other theory anyone wants. Chaos.

What is it about politics that attracts people who don’t understand science?

ro_in_motion's avatar

The best fight in terms of near-term elections is to point out the anti-education stance of the Republicans. America is slipping in virtually every measure in terms of educating the youth. Republicans feed off the dumb. We need to stand up against that. Get that accomplished and then we fight them on adult issues.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that the fundamentalist / evangelical Republicans are determined to try to hold on to America’s past – where white men were in control of almost all facets of our society. To do this they are willing / eager to reduce America’s schools to ‘Sunday schools’ just so long as they can maintain their hold on political & religious power. They seem to have no concept of the fact that ours is a technologically advanced civilization & we need even more science to advance. Many of the big oil companies are cheerfully supporting them in this endeavor, because denying global warming / climate change means that they are free to exploit our dwindling oil deposits & charge ever increasing amounts of money for the gasoline we need for our cars. So while the fundamentalist / evangelical Republicans make war on science, & on education, & on women….. we are quickly running out of time & running out of our most precious resource – water.

filmfann's avatar

The war on science won’t be official until the Republicans come up with an alternate word.
For example, we all know that Women = Catepillars and Heath Care = Broccoli.
Perhaps Science = Pet Rocks.

TexasDude's avatar

I’m going to repost a comment my (very, very liberal) history professor posted about this on facebook. I feel like he brings a unique perspective to this law that nobody else has really considered:

“The law doesn’t really allow creationism to be “taught” in schools. It just allows teachers to respond to a question about it from students and to treat it, and evolution, critically. What I don’t understand is why creationists would even w…ant such a bill. Most science teachers actually believe in science and evolution (yes, there are exceptions but most are quite committed to it, including in Tennessee). Wouldn’t this just give teachers a platform to submit creationism to the rigor of scientific analysis in the same way it treats geocentrism? In other words, this seems more likely to empower science teachers to destroy creationism for its illogicality, rather than ignore it as at present.

Remember, the Tennessee state legislature is monumentally ignorant. Just because some know nothing thought he was introducing creationism through the back door doesn’t mean he isn’t actually undermining his own radical agenda through his own stupidity. The Voter ID law – which will actually disfranchise more elderly Republicans than poorer, younger, minority Democrats – is a case in point. In Tennessee, people over 70 don’t have to have pictures on their driver’s licenses. That’s why there have been a raft of WWII vets getting suddenly disfranchised. Again – not well thought out.”

For the record, I’m an evolutionist who is completely opposed to teaching ID or creationism in public school science classes.

ETpro's avatar

@tom_g Where there is life there is hope.

@ragingloli As @janbb points out, all too often, the Constitution is only invoked when a partisan thinks it supports their pet belief. Otherwise, it is utterly ignored.

@marinelife I with I caould be an sanguine as you are, But I share @gasman‘s fears that we may have passed some sort of tipping point. Of course, huge events like 9/11 or Katrina can move the entire body politic.And as we continue down the road of climate science denial, such events as Katrina will become more frequent.

@rebbel A War on War. What a wonderful concept.

@SpatzieLover Unlike the far right, I am pro life even after life exists the womb. Seems they are in a race to see who can be pro life earliest, even to the point of protecting and ensuring the fertilization of all unfertilized eggs. Never mind the problem that would present to all life thanks to overpopulation and resource depletion.

@Rarebear I’ve added the book to my must read list and thoroughly enjoyed the interview.

@wundayatta Politics = power. Power attracts lots of people, especially those with an authoritarian bent.

@ro_in_motion I’d certainly like to think that every parent wants a good education and successful future for their children.

@Linda_Owl Even the GOP must have sizable blocks who will see this, and realize its unwanted consequences.

@filmfann Ha! Pet Rocks seems about right to me. We’ll know it is official when we hear it on Fox News.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Thanks for an encouraging thought. That makes good sense, and lifts my spirits.

cazzie's avatar

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

Plato

ETpro's avatar

@cazzie And on that sad truth, I bid you good night. :-)

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