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Sunday, January 06, 2013

False Equivalency As Anti-Science Polemic

Of course, it logically should be true that both of America's political parties respect the verdicts and utility of scientific results. Of course, it is demonstrably not true that both of America's political parties do respect science anything like equally anymore. A few photogenic exceptions among the GOP and occasional Democratic lapses notwithstanding, nothing could be clearer than the determination of which party welcomes the climate-change denialists, the macroeconomic illiterates, the abstinence-only puritans, the "creation science" boosters, the rapture-ready "champions" of the most belligerent possible Israel, the death panel hysterics, the more guns always everywhere nihilists, the dead-enders in the reactionary fantasies that queers are inhuman, black folks are subhuman, and women nothing but incubators. And, of course, PZ Myers is correct when he says that scientists and all who value a role for consensus science in weighing practical policy outcomes have absolutely no reason to support the anti-science party today's GOP has unquestionably become over the Democratic party.


jollyspaniard said...

It's worth noting that there is some anti science looneyism in the left. Namely the anti vax conspiracy stuff but this is offered up merely as a fig leaf to the huffington post and oprah crowd and doesn't translate into policy.

Athena Andreadis said...

There is no "middle ground" between "the earth goes around the sun" and "the sun goes around the earth" -- and anyone who wants to force acceptance of such a "compromise" is deluded at best.

Dale Carrico said...

Anti-vax conspiricism is hardly indigenous to the Democratic left in the way "creation science" and climate change denialism and the rest are indispensable to the Movement Republican right.

(Btw, as a side note, I don't know that I accept HuffPo as honestly exemplary of the Democratic left, given its endless reflexive Obama-betrayal exposes, its labor practices, its championing of arch-con Breitbart, Huffington's own intimate history with the GOP, etc. And I definitely cannot say I am eager to see her as a vector of New Age crapola infusing left discourse, even though HuffPo also obviously does publish great indispensable progressive journalism and editorials too.)

I don't think pointing out the disproportion of anti-science in the right implies scientific perfection on the left in the least. I think reasonable people already assume such caveats, and hence actually insisting on making that point every time the reality of the disproportion is named actually functions as a ritual generating precisely the kind of "false equivalency" that worries Myers here, and me too.

I think it is perfectly reasonable to focus on just how bad and just how damaging the Movement Republicans are right now. I don't believe anybody with any sense thinks a person making this point must also believe that Democrats couldn't be better about funding education and research and advocating policies that better accorded with consensus science.

That goes without saying, I think, and every second wasted on saying it (except when one is actually drawing attention to a particular instance of bad policy) would be better spent focusing on the real problem instead, the anti-science of today's GOP.