The increasingly antiscience Republican candidates

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Aug. 29 2011 2:35 PM

The increasingly antiscience Republican candidates

A lot of folks on the web are buzzing about Paul Krugman's NYT OpEd today about the antiscience convictions of the current cohort of Republican candidates running for President of these United States. I find little fault in what Krugman wrote. Each candidate on the right is simply scrambling to be even more antiscience than the next.

Of course, if that "next" is Rick Perry, then I doubt anyone could sprint away from reality more than he does. He's a dyed-in-the-wool creationist who apparently has no problem narrowing or stepping well over the line with separation of Church and State, and when it comes to denying climate change he also apparently had no problem with simply making things up (Krugman calls his statements "vile", and the Washington Post blog The Fact Checker rated his claims as "whoppers"). Perry's stance on other big issues is similar.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies!  

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And he's far and away the front runner, which leaves me shaking my head.

Even the candidates people are calling "moderate" are falling over themselves to appease the base when it comes to science and the lack thereof. Mitt Romney tried to eat his cake and have it too about accepting evolution, and even Ron Paul has now distanced himself from evolution.

Which brings up Jon Huntsman, which is where things get truly maddening. He recently said he thinks both evolution and global warming are real. This makes me sad, and scared. Why? Because this statement is considered bold.

How can it be bold to accept reality, to not deny the overwhelming evidence, and to agree with the vast, vast majority of scientists studying the very topics of discussion?

Huntsman wants his party not to be "the antiscience party". But that shouldn't be bold. That should be common sense.

As it happens, Huntsman is trailing in the polls by a nearly insurmountable distance. That's certainly not caused by his statement -- he's been behind for a long time -- and may not even be correlated directly; as one Republican strategist commented, he may simply be saying things to try to stand out from the crowd.

But if true, think on that: he's making clear, logical, rational statements in order to separate himself from the other candidates.

And that's where we are.



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