Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Does The Right Wing Hate Science So Much?


Pre-World War II Germany had more than its share of Nobel laureates. The Nazis weren't impressed though because so many of them were German Jews and the Nazis were pushing the idea of an historic showdown between "Aryans" and Jews. So to replace Einstein's Theory of Relativity, for example, they had the ravings of some right-wing crackpot from Austria, Hans Hoerbiger, who had come up with what turned out to be an official, non-Jewish Nazi Party cosmology-- the Cosmic Theory of Ice. If you wanted to be a good little Nazi, you had to abandon actual physics and Science and embrace Welteislehre.

OK, right-wingers are entitled to believe the sun is a great big block of ice and repeat the "proof" to each other ad infinitum. It just doesn't make it so, at least not outside of their own closed, crimped little circle of darkness and ignorance. So why would anyone care? Well, for one thing, these true believers convinced themselves that the Russian winter of 1941 was slated to be a wonderfully mild Aryan-friendly one. So the Germans who invaded Russia only brought summer clothes. And that was the beginning of the end for that particular explosion of right-wing craziness normal people had to suffer through.

And now we have the American version of the Nazis, the Tea Party. Not to imply the teabaggers want to kill Jews-- just Science. When the Tea Party took over the Texas GOP, Texans got more than just Rick Perry, Ted Cruz and Steve Stockman as part of the deal. In his synopsis of the 2012 Texas Republican Party Platform, Travis Waldron gets to the GOP obsession with their latest war-- a war on critical thinking, which, of course, they're trying to ban. The 2012 platform "opposes multicultural education and 'critical thinking': 'We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive,' the platform says, adding that it supports teaching 'common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.' In Arizona, where Republicans banned multicultural programs, students in those programs actually out-performed their peers. Texas Republicans also believe 'controversial theories' such evolution and climate change-- which aren’t controversial at all-- 'should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced.' There’s more: the GOP also opposes the teaching of 'critical thinking skills' because they 'focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.'”

And I'm not trying to make a case that Texas is the most backward, primitive state in the country-- despite have the most backward, primitive senator (Cruz) and two of the most backward, primitive House Members (Gohmert and Stockman). Next door-- bordering, by the way, on Gohmert's and Stockman's congressional districts-- in Louisiana there are some existential problems with backwardness and primitivism as well. Zaid Jilani has a great example of how the right-wing can deny science all it wants but will never stop its troops from dying of pneumonia at the gates of Moscow.
In new research about to be released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency concludes that the state of Louisiana will face the highest sea-level rise “on the planet.”

This sea-level rise is largely due to the effects of man-made global warming. But as Louisiana faces looming catastrophe over the next few decades, much of its congressional delegation continues to drag its feet on climate action or deny the phenomena altogether. Here’s a rundown:

• Sen. David Vitter (R): Vitter warned that global warming studies are often “ridiculous psuedo-science.”

• Rep. Steve Scalise (R): Scalise has said that the science “is not settled” and that there “is dispute” over man-made climate change.

• Sen. Mary Landrieu (D): While she has not engaged in global warming denialism, she has worked to stop the Obama administration from combating the threat of climate change.

• Rep. John Fleming (R): Fleming has signed the Koch Brothers front group’s Americans For Prosperity’s pledge to block a tax designed to rein in carbon emissions.

• Rep. Rodney Alexander (R): Alexander co-sponsored a resolution saying that the  ”impacts of climate change and proposed resolutions, tainted by the recent uncovering of climategate, are not universally accepted.”

• Rep. Bill Cassidy (R): Cassidy denies global warming outright, saying it could just be a “shift in the axis” of the planet.

• Rep. Charles Boustany (R): Boustany has voted against letting the Environmental Protection Agency work to stop global warming and defends subsidies for oil and gas companies.
Three years ago Ken was warning us about how the Tea Party was amping up the Republican War On Science: "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. Take the surprise ousting last week of Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican senator for Alaska, by political unknown Joe Miller in the Republican primary for the 2 November midterm congressional elections. Miller, who is backed by the conservative 'Tea Party movement,' called his opponent's acknowledgment of the reality of global warming 'exhibit A for why she needs to go.' The right-wing populism that is flourishing in the current climate of economic insecurity echoes many traditional conservative themes, such as opposition to taxes, regulation and immigration. But the Tea Party and its cheerleaders, who include Limbaugh, Fox News television host Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (who famously decried fruitfly research as a waste of public money), are also tapping an age-old US political impulse-- a suspicion of elites and expertise."

And just before the last election we asked ourselves how hostile GOP congressmen are to Science. Very, it turns out-- at least according to New York Republican Sherwood Boehlert, who chaired the House Science Committee and spent his career working on environmental policy and energy efficiency. That kind of agenda has become anathema to today's Republican Party which eschews Science as a liberal conspiracy against their single-minded belief in Greed and Avarice. Today the Science Committee is chaired by the oldest (90) and one of the most senile Members of Congress, Ralph Hall, a former Texas Blue Dog who switched to the GOP after voting to impeach Bill Clinton, getting in on the Abramoff gravy train and endorsing George W. Bush. So what qualifies Hall to be chairman of the Science Committee? He's one of Congress' leading Climate Change deniers and has accused climate scientists of concocting the evidence for anthopogenic climate change in order to receive federal research grants. What more evidence could Boehner and Cantor possibly want to give Hall the gig?

Boehner has since replaced Hall... but with the equally off-the-deep-end fellow Texan Climate Change denier (and Oil Industry shill), Lamar Smith. The Science Committee is stocked full of crackpot science deniers like Paul Broun (R-GA), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Mo Brooks (R-AL), to name a few. (I can't wait to watch hearings on Climate Change now that Pelosi put Alan Grayson (D-FL), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Joe Kennedy (D-MA) on the committee to back up Donna Edwards (D-MD) and a saner approach to reality.

Hans Hoerbiger would make the perfect GOP chairman of the House Science Committee

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At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"In new research about to be released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency concludes that the state of Louisiana will face the highest sea-level rise “on the planet.”

Um, excuse me but I can't wait for the NOAA to make a statement so ridiculously wrong as that. They'd be eaten alive. They will likely say that Louisiana will face the highest "RELATIVE sea-level rise on the planet.” There is a major difference, and if you loved science as much as you suggest, you'd know what the difference actually is. But something tells me you're an arts major.

I am a right wing Tea Party supporter, I am a scientist and I love science, that's why I actually know the NOAA would never utter that statement above.



At 9:40 PM, Blogger Dennis Jernberg said...

Actually, this kind of stuff reminds me of not Nazi "science" but its Stalinist counterpart, Lysenkoism. Evolution works like a Marxist revolution, quoth Comrade Lysenko. Stalin executed geneticists and doomed his empire to mass starvation in raising this "theory" (by a nonscientist, no less) to infallible doctrine. Even though Khrushchev repealed it, it was yet another way Stalin doomed the Soviet Union to inevitable collapse.

It is my longtime conviction that creationism (and all that goes with it) is the American version of Lysenkoism. And of course they hate science because it threatens their blind faith. They hate reality for the same reason.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger PhaseTransit said...

What you are identifying here is more precisely not right-wingism but the fear driven authoritarian extremism that Prof Bob Altemeyer labels Right Wing Authoritarianism. Again, the term right wing even here is misleading since 20 percent of them are of the political left (and green). The extremists on the left often present as anti-science pseudo-sciencers too. This personality trait (about ten percent of the population have it overall - another 20 emerge in times of social stress) has marked patterns of behaviour that characterise the right generally. This is why Altemeyer named it RWA. But it is a disease - an extreme and generally anti-anthropic disease of in-group protection and mind-numbing social control in why might-is-right, aggression, dim-wittedness (reason merely by association) fear of change arise from tough parenting and a lack of love during upbringing. It is a disease of generations.


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