Acceptance of Science and Reason In Presidential Candidates–John McCain and the Discovery Institute

The differences between the political parties in their views of science has become of increasing significance in recent years. One reason for the failure of Republican government in recent years has been their separation from reality. We saw this in their claims about WMD and ties between Saddam and al Qaeda to justify the Iraq War. We see conservatives opposing the consensus of scientific belief on evolution, cosmology, geology (if it disagrees with their ideas on the age of the earth), and climate change. You cannot devise workable public policy when ideology prevents a rational review of the facts.

John McCain’s talk before the Discovery Institute, the organization responsible for many of those nonsense conservative talking points against evolution, has emphasized the anti-science bias prevalent in the Republican Party. Shelley Batts discusses the relationship between presidential candidates and the company they seek among those hostile to science:

It is of the utmost importance that a president, or future preseident, have rational thinking and reasoning skills as well as a firm grasp over what constitutes scientific evidence in the formulation of theories. A president makes crucial decisions every day which impact the lives of millions of people. The election of a person who demonstrates an inability to assimilate facts and observations in a way that makes sense, but rather defaults to an emotional mythology, would be a grave mistake. Therefore, not only is it beyond reproach for the “intelligent liberal community” to impose a requirement of rationality on a future president, it would be ludicrous to do otherwise. Yes, I believe that influential people who cannot use their power in a coherant, scientifically-supportable way merits contempt.

Whether or not John McCain really believes in intelligent design, who’s to say? I tend to think he doesn’t, and this talk is just another panderfest to the conservative right. The problem is, in a presidential election, guilt-by-association is a very real thing. The reason for this is that there are no accidental appearances; every minute of McCain’s time from now until election day will be carefully planned, weighed, pondered over, and scrutinized by his team for maximum effect. This talk hosted by the DI, while not specifically admitting to agree with intelligent design, was also no accident. And the fact that a DI luncheon was an attractive place to spend his time in his quest to develop his image and become president, reveals that the image that HE wants to mold is very, very far from the image of the president I would elect.

Presidental hopefuls keep a keen eye out for oppertunities to ingratiate themselves with certain factions (McCain, as with any other). McCain had a oppertunity to associate himself with a pro-ID organization or, not to. He chose to do it. I hope it was worth it.

Regardless of whether they know better themselves, the Republican candidates find it necessary to align themselves with those who oppose science. Regardless of where one stands on specific issues, we are increasingly seeing the choice as being one political party which accepts facts over ideology, and therefore is more likely to promote pragmatic solutions to problems, and another which is tied to extremists who are willing to ignore all scientific and other evidence which contradicts their beliefs. As long as the Republican Party remains captive to those who share the views of organizations such as The Discovery Institute they will not be capable of governing.

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  1. 1
    birdman says:

    I could not agree more. All the cons who talk about what a great country we are, blah blah, need to remember tha becoming a backwards country of brainwashed idiots is no way to remain a leading nation great strength, innovationin technology and otherwise, will not continue if we abandon science and critical thinking. the christian right is a grave threat to this nation because of their embrace of enforced idiocy.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Their policies sure do contradict their talk of what a great country this is as they ignore what made the country great.

    It has become almost a cliche to ask what it is the conservatives want to “conserve.” Science is part of our national heritage with many scientific advances of the last couple of centuries coming from the United States. Similarly separation of church and state is part of our heritage–previously strongly supported by many religious groups who realized that separation of church and state is essential to preserve their freedom to worship as they desire.

  3. 3
    HighPlainsJoker says:

    Quick question:
    Why is it that neocons demand scientific proof that humans contribute significantly to global warming but do not demand the same level of proof for the existence of god? Just wondering.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    It’s worse than that. In the past they might have gotten away with claiming that human contribution to global warming isn’t proven. Now it is the consensus of the scientifc community. (Actually it has been for a while, but now we have the official concensus statements.)

    If they won’t accept a consensus statement it suggests that they are unwilling to consider any degree of scientific proof. Their objections to global warming are not based upon science but upon faith.

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