Conservatives against science

Conservatives are not against all science, just the tenets that conflict with their two goals, make money and push Christianity.

Before I begin I will recommend reading both "The Republican War On Science" and "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality" by Chris Mooney. They're great books and detail the shocking anti-intellectual, anti-science positions embraced by today's conservatives. The books are not ideological rants but extremely well researched and backed up with factual data.

A few examples...

- Evolutionary biology. The theory of evolution is considered reality by around 99% of the worlds scientists. But to hear conservative politicians (Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum, George W Bush, Sarah Palin) and entertainers (Micheal Savage, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh) talk, you would think there was huge doubt about evolution among scientists, but there isn't. Regardless, conservatives still doubt the science. But why? Why would anyone question scientific reality? Simple question with a simple answer.

Recall that one of the primary goals of conservatives is to force Christianity onto everyone, preferably via enforceable public policy. By casting doubt on the science of evolution they can accomplish this goal, at least to some degree. They say evolution is "just a theory", indicating they do not even know what a scientific theory entails. Instead of accepting the science they prefer to believe in creationism (as spoken of in Genesis/The Old Testament), or as it is has recently been renamed "intelligent design". They even want creationism (or ID) taught alongside evolution in public school science classrooms as a "competing theory". Their excuse is "we just want to give our kids all the information we can and let them decide which theory is correct". Really? Since when do we allow 5th graders to determine the reality of science?

The obvious situation here is that religious people cannot stand the fact that science contradicts what the Bible says and that is simply not acceptable to them. They will therefore do their best to crush science in any way they can while at the same time forcing religion into the discussion. This tact is not only completely contrary to logic and reason but also facilitates the ignorance of our children. Is it any wonder they have fallen so far behind the world in math and science?

Honestly, if you doubt evolutionary biology but believe people rode dinosaurs (as depicted in the Creation Museum in Kentucky), you are living in a land of self imposed religious delusion.

- Climate change. The worldwide consensus of scientists believes that the earth is slowly warming and that this is being caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, i.e., coal and oil. Now, there is some discussion and disagreement among the scientists on the specifics but this does not negate the general conclusion that climate change is indeed happening, it is being caused by human activity, and we need to do something about it. But conservatives think this is all hogwash. Why? Why would they not believe the scientific consensus?

Recall the number one goal of their agenda; make as much money as possible. If they admit that climate change exists then they will have to call on energy companies like Exxon to get clean and "getting clean" costs money, at least in the short term. Spending that initial money will reduce profits, shareholder equity and executive bonuses. More than likely, that increase in costs will be passed on to consumers via higher energy prices as well. However, this is a short term problem because as companies do get clean by investing in new technologies the costs to produce energy will inevitably flatten out. But the point is clear. Admitting climate change will cost companies and people money and that is simply not acceptable to conservatives. Remember, it's all about their wallets.

For republicans, cleaning up our environment in general so we can breathe clean air and drink clean water has never been one of their priorities, to say the least, and for the same reason. They constantly battle the EPA, many even calling for its repeal (Texas Governor Rick Perry, if he can remember its name). Yes, they want to repeal the primary agency that ensures we have clean air and water. How sad, but it is all about the short-term dollar. In fact, their only response to the climate change issue is to say "Al Gore is a moron" and "it's just liberal scientists making it all up so they can get grant money". Ignorant and childish? Yes. Short-sighted? Of course, but that is the anti-science conservative mindset and we will all suffer for it in the long run.

- Stem cell research. There are historically about 400,000 discarded frozen embryos kept in America's fertility clinics. The reason we have this situation is simple math. When couples have fertility treatments the doctors will fertilize several eggs at a time due to the fact that many of the resultant embryos end up not viable. So they will, for example, fertilize three eggs in hope of getting one embryo that survives. But sometimes more than one does survive and it is placed in a deep freeze. Couples don't usually end up using the embryos so they just sit there frozen forever, or until the facility discards them. So what to do with the unused embryos?

Doctors and scientists have felt that they can use these embryos to conduct experiments, experiments that they believe will one day help produce treatments and possible cures for a variety of diseases from Parkinsons to Alzheimers to Lou Gehrigs disease, among other terrible illnesses. The potential to help sick people is almost infinite. But conservative people are adamantly against this. Why? Because Christianity says that God creates life at conception and the use of microscopic embryos for experimentation is essentially murder. The fact that the embryos in question have been discarded and have no chance whatsoever of being planted in a woman's uterus and brought to term is irrelevant to them. They would prefer that the embryos sit in a freezer forever, useless, instead of possibly helping millions of terminally ill people.

Additionally, adding insult to injury, we have conservative "entertainers" like Rush Limbaugh who say things like "Michael J. Fox is making up his Parkinson's disease for publicity reasons". Limbaugh is an ignorant, abrasive individual with a political agenda. Before you say "oh, he is not important, has no power, nobody listens to him" you should realize that he is not a fringe element. Limbaugh is admired and catered to by tens of millions of conservatives, some of whom are politicians with great power, able to influence public policy. When Limbaugh talks, conservatives listen, and that is a shame for our country and its people.

I will add one positive note on the stem cell issue. In the last few years scientists have discovered other sources for stem cells, such as those acquired from chord blood. Therefore, this argument has thankfully become somewhat of a moot point. But make no mistake, when embryonic stem cell research was being fervently embraced by the science community, religious conservatives fought it at every turn.

Summation: The lack of logic and reason that permeates republicans anti-science positions is enormous. But again, this is the conservative mindset; embrace money and religion while ignoring reality, esp scientific reality, all the while people suffer the consequences.

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    Jeff Clauser

    Born in Charlotte NC, raised in Atlanta Ga and attended college at Auburn University in Alabama where I earned a bachelors degree in political science and public administration. I had planned to attend law school after graduation but after four years of undergrad work the thought of getting right back into a classroom held little interest for me. Instead I spent several years in a variety of positions in customer service, retail and the financial industry. Eventually I ended up in aviation, specifically as a pilot, earning the ratings of instructor, commercial and Airline Transport Pilot. With that came jobs flying single engine trainers, light multi-engine aircraft, turbo-props, regional jets and my current job at the helm of an MD-83. Besides the aforementioned cities I have also resided in Houston, Dallas, Boston, Miami/Ft Lauderdale, Orlando, Cincinnati and now the City of Chicago. I've traveled extensively, having been in every major American city at least a dozen times and also many international destinations. While I enjoy flying jet airplanes I've realized over the years that my true love is government. I read voraciously every day, various newspapers, periodicals and non-fiction publications. Some of my favorite authors are great thinkers like Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Friedman, Deepak Chopra, Fareed Zakaria, Dr Sanjay Gupta, Christopher Hitchens, Steven Levitt and of course the geniuses Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking. I have a great admiration for intelligence, educational achievement and a thorough knowledge of the world and its peoples. Finally, I must also admit spending a significant amount of time listening to talk radio and TV, both liberal and conservative. Unfortunately most of it is juvenile and misrepresents reality but listening to it keeps me informed of what the average Joe on the street is thinking. In summary, I love studying and debating politics. My education, both formal and informal, combined with extensive travel and exposure to various cultures and people, gives me significant knowledge and experience on which to base my opinions and arguments. My goal with this blog is to engage with other rationale and reasonable thinkers who love our country and wish to see it move forward via logical public policy initiatives.

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