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Scientific American published this article a few months back, coming out just before the election. Scientific American has never shrunk from engaging in politics, but this might well be their most political article yet, focusing on the ways in which many of the antiscience beliefs, mostly among conservatives, are affecting public policy. Their analysis is very detailed, and while it does not exactly spare democrats either, most of the article is about republicans. A few choice excerpts are presented below.

Yet despite its history and today's unprecedented riches from science, the U.S. has begun to slip off of its science foundation. Indeed, in this election cycle, some 236 years after Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, several major party contenders for political office took positions that can only be described as “antiscience”: against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more. A former Republican governor even warned that his own political party was in danger of becoming “the antiscience party.”
Governor Romney's path to endorsement exemplifies the problem. “I don't speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer,” Romney told voters in June 2011 at a town hall meeting after announcing his candidacy. “I can't prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer, and number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.” Four days later radio commentator Rush Limbaugh blasted Romney on his show, saying, “Bye-bye nomination. Bye-bye nomination, another one down. We're in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax! And we still have presidential candidates who want to buy into it.

By October 2011 Romney had done an about-face. “My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet, and the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try and reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us,” he told an audience in Pittsburgh, then advocated for aggressive oil drilling. And on the day after the Republican National Convention, he tacked back toward his June 2011 position when he submitted his answers to

Antiscience reproductive politics surfaced again in August, this time in one of the most contested U.S. Senate races. Todd Akin, who is running in Missouri against Claire McCaskill, said that from what he understood from doctors, pregnancy from rape is extremely rare because “if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin sits on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which is responsible for much of the U.S. federal science enterprise, so he should be aware of what science actually says about key policy issues. In fact, studies suggest that women are perhaps twice as likely to become pregnant from rape, and, in any event, there is no biological mechanism to stop pregnancy in the case of rape. Akin's views are by no means unusual among abortion foes, who often seek to minimize what science says to politically justify a no-exception antiabortion stance, which has since become part of the 2012 national GOP platform.
It is surprising, but in a good way, to see that Akin's comment is also being regarded not just as anti-women, but also as antiscience.

Next is the section on the history of antiscience, and how it became so powerful.

Industrial mishaps led to new health and environmental regulatory science. The growing restrictions drove the older industries in the chemical, petroleum and pharmaceutical fields to protect their business interests by opposing new regulations. Proponents of this view found themselves in a natural alliance with the burgeoning religious fundamentalists who opposed the teaching of evolution. Industrial money and religious foot soldiers soon formed a new basis for the Republican Party: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem,” President Ronald Reagan argued in his 1981 inaugural address. “Government is the problem.” This antiregulatory-antiscience alliance largely defines the political parties today and helps to explain why, according to a 2009 survey, nine out of 10 scientists who identified with a major political party said they were Democrats.

This marriage of industrial money with fundamentalist values gave fundamentalism renewed power in the public debate, and efforts to oppose the teaching of evolution in public schools have returned in several states. Tennessee, South Dakota and Louisiana have all recently passed legislation that encourages unwarranted criticisms of evolution to be taught in the states' public schools. Evangelical state legislators and school board members mounted similar efforts this year in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Alabama, and the Texas Republican Party platform opposes “the teaching of … critical thinking skills and similar programs that … have the purpose of challenging the student's fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

And the article concludes with the following, which is very good advice.
In an age when science influences every aspect of life—from the most private intimacies of sex and reproduction to the most public collective challenges of climate change and the economy—and in a time when democracy has become the dominant form of government on the planet, it is important that the voters push elected officials and candidates of all parties to explicitly state their views on the major science questions facing the nation. By elevating these issues in the public dialogue, U.S. citizens gain a fighting chance of learning whether those who would lead them have the education, wisdom and courage necessary to govern in a science-driven century and to preserve democracy for the next generation.
Please go read the entire article, since my excerpts barely do it justice. It rambles a bit, but is overall an excellent analysis of the problem.

One other article that is linked to is an analysis of Obama's and Romney's views on scientific matters. Even though the online article does not have it, the print version graded both candidates on their views. Surprisingly, Romney fared relatively well against Obama, although he was very poor on environmental and national health issues.

In the end, I would disagree slightly with the idea that conservatives and republicans are antiscience. Give them a new smart bomb or smart phone, and they are happy. Their real problem is that they hate science that forces them to reevaluate their world view. Evolution and climate change, as the two most obvious examples, and are fought and denied with every fiber of their being. The problem, though is that even though they might accept science which delivers their wants, it is not something that you can pick and choose. Accepting scientific research and discovery does not mean you have to like the results. But it is the necessary first step for dealing with the consequences.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Important issue (13+ / 0-)

    I have a slightly different take. You said:

    Their real problem is that they hate science that forces them to reevaluate their world view.
    I think that the issue is that too many people (mostly republicans) misunderstand what science is and use their ideology as a filter. If science suggests policies or outcomes that don't square with their previously held beliefs, its junk and the scientists are conspiring against the truth (e.g. human-caused climate change). Its ideology first and everything else subordinate.

    In other words, reevaluating their world view is not something they're going to do - so the science is faulty.

    •  There IS Nothing Other Than Ideology. (7+ / 0-)

      They represent the Lord creator of the universe, ultimate truth. What purpose has logic when you have all the answers? In their world you can walk on water if you have enough faith. Belief in ideas without regard to evidence.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 06:48:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I understand your impulse... (4+ / 0-)

        Not sure I buy it though. Ideologues still value some definition of science. That's why they try so hard to counter science that doesn't fit their world view (example: citing some crackpot climate change denier or evolution denier who has an alternate "scientific" explanation or credentials like a Ph.D. that gives them a veneer of scientific authority).
        In addition they like to exploit real legitimate uncertianty among scientists or within inference to say that "the matter is still unsettled" despite wide consensus on the broad contours (e.g. climate change again).

        •  science limits corporate profit in a democracy so, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          as you say, there is a real effort in the 1%'s think tanks to dumb down and interfere.

          the right uses uncertainty as a tool regularly on all propaganda and control issues because, as the psych studies show, cons need certainty and are more fearful than liberals.

          with right wing radio the right's think tanks can be very specific to attack distort and minimize current research results in real time to a huge audience in a medium that is nearly invisible to the scientific community and presents few opportunities for rebuttal.

           the religion related ignorance and rejection of science will always be there to some degree but with RW radio they can use it very well and expand it.

          and, as i point out in comment below, much of the scientific and teaching community works with or is associated with universities that help those stations do what they do by putting their team stickers on hundreds of them.

          This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

          by certainot on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 09:12:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The Church basically had everybody in line (9+ / 0-)

      before Darwin and education and full on impact of the age science helped people start thinking for themselves and 'moving away from God' - or losing their fear of the Church's influence.

      The rabid religious movements, from the Taliban and strict Sharia variants of Islam to our own religious nutjobs, are extreme attempts to force people back into fear of and subservience to church elders and that primitive form of social control.

      Hence the anti-science bent, the denial of global warming, the 6000 year old Earth, Jesus Ponies, Creationism, control of women - all that dimwitted  anti-intellectual bullshit is a lame attempt to put the toothpaste of human progress back in the tube, violently if necessary

      •  I agree with this overall (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        though I think you overstate when you claim the church had "everybody" in line.
        There are always freethinkers, skeptics, agnostics, atheists, and religious dissenters, though in most parts of the world for most of history it has been very dangerous to speak out as such.
        Even just in the early history of British North America, one can point to folks like Thomas Morton and the freethinkers of Merrymount, whose community was violently attacked by the Puritans in the 1620s. Or Roger Williams, who, though a theist, preached that laws that commanded faith undermined both faith itself, the legitimacy of civic power, and what today we would call the right of conscience and the free exercise of religion (and was thrown out of the colony for this, and for objecting to stealing native american lands).

        Every relationship of domination, exploitation, or oppression is by definition violent. Dominator and dominated alike are reduced to things - the former dehumanized by an excess of power, the latter by a lack of it. And things cannot love.-Paulo Freire

        by samdiener on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 05:57:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  May Have Been Their Most Political Major Article (8+ / 0-)

    but this chart of family wealth from Reagan thru the Clinton so-called boom, and a brief accompanying discussion from the early 2000's that I often posted prior long before the rise of Occupy, may well be the original source of the concept of 1% vs 99% and it's a very serious contender for the most political piece of theirs.

    --Facts being some of the most intensely partisan and political ideas in the US.

    Image Hosted by

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 06:50:11 PM PDT

  •  Bombs and phones aren't science. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    They are engineering.

    Science is the process of discovering how the world works by trying to destroy our current beliefs about it. If you think that your world view is sacred then science is an existential threat.

    The reciprocal is also true: if you think that your world view is sacred then you are an existential threat to science. That is why 95% of professional scientists in the US are Democrats.

  •  The biggest problem we have with magical (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corwin, johanus, samdiener

    thinking (religion) is that it causes intellectual laziness. One does not have to do the hard work if one can insert a god or other superstition into our gaps in knowledge.  It should never be acceptable in a society who values the pursuit of knowledge.

    A good example of this is a conversation I had with a person who is actually non-religious, but was offering the opinion that an afterlife would be a possibility. So I started talking about it in terms of questions.... like... so if a child dies in infancy never having formed a self awareness and consciousness like you or I, what happens in this "afterlife"?  Does the child grow up and form a full adult consciousness? If so, in relation to what? Does the child stay in an infinite form that is mentally stuck at the point they died?   Does ANY of that make sense?   My point being that the more you take a rational and skeptical response to the idea of a human "afterlife" condition, the less sense it makes. It becomes meaningless and silly.  

    We don't encourage enough of that type of intellectual approach and we are held back constantly by magical thinking and superstition.  The discipline of scientific thinking is so essential in so many other areas besides science.  We need to remember that and encourage science's approach to thinking in other areas of life as well.

  •  anti-science starts at our uni-endorsed RW radio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    the 1%'s think tanks monitor US media and trends for threats to corporate GOP goals.

     they've already had 25 years of under the radar attacks by ignorant unaccountable high school drop outs on general science, scientists, teachers, and professors to 50 mil people with no response from the fact based community.

    add to that real time distortions and 'critiques' of current research by corporate hacks in those think tanks, which is then fed to those national and local RW radio blowhards to regurgitate to 50 mil a week.

    most amazing is that a lot of the scientific community that might complain of the collective ignorance work in or are associated with universities that plaster their team logos all over hundreds of those stations.

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 08:52:57 AM PDT

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