John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) posts articles on his blog about environmentalism’s extremes and provides a bit of commentary as well. The first article in the post that I have marked was interesting because I keep hearing about this war on science, but when it comes down to it, there isn’t.
“For six and a half years under President Bush,” Senator Hillary Clinton told an audience in October 2007, “it has been open season on open inquiry.” Senator Edward Kennedy, in an April 2007 speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bemoaned the many ways in which “the truth is taking a beating” under conservative influence in Washington. One popular recent book on the subject is entitled The Republican War on Science; another, by former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore, is called The Assault on Reason.
But beneath these grave accusations, it turns out, are some remarkably flimsy grievances, most of which seem to amount to political disputes about policy questions in which science plays a role. Ethical disagreements over the destruction of embryos for research are described instead as a conflict between science and ignorant theology. Differing judgments about the proper role of government in sex education in schools are painted as a quarrel between objective public health and medieval prudishness. A dispute about the prudential wisdom of a variety of energy policy alternatives is depicted as a clash of simple scientific facts against willful ignorance and greed.
The American right has no desire to declare a war on science, and nothing it has done in recent years could reasonably suggest otherwise. The left’s quixotic defensive campaign against an imaginary enemy therefore has little to tell us about American conservatives-who, of course, do have a complex relationship with science, though it is not the one the left seeks to describe. But if this notion of a “war on science” tells us little about the right, it does tell us something important about the American left and its self-understanding. That liberals take attacks against their own political preferences to be attacks against science helps us see the degree to which they identify themselves-their ideals, their means, their ends, their cause, and their culture-with the modern scientific enterprise.
I have heard the same things from Democratic leaning scientists whom I respect, such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, a noted astronomer. When asked the question at a forum in Los Angeles, he responded with, and I’m paraphrasing, there is no Republican war on science.
Read the whole first article. You can read the second and third articles as well, if you want.
I have been hearing this meme as of late, but thinking back, I can remember the same sort of theme in some of politics of the past. I’m not sure I completely buy into the whole thing, but it is an interesting read which looks like, at times, what is going on. I agree that there is criticism and self-criticism with in the society, that is needed to keep the country from tilting one way or another. The claim of exaggerated criticism or exaggerated self-criticism pushes democracies over the edge is interesting, but I’m thinking that they are temporary and are pushed away by the mainstream once recognized as such.