Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is the public beginning to recognize how unhealthy this administration has been for science?

Thanks to Pharyngula, I found this article by Chris Mooney, author of the recent "The Republican War on Science". Mooney is discussing the apparent longevity of the criticism that the Bush administration has time and again rejected and even supressed solid science.

I hope this is true - that people in both parties are starting to realize how pervasive the problem has been. This shouldn't be a partisan issue; no matter what your political philosophy is, or what kinds policy solutions you advocate, you should agree that getting the science right is essential to making intelligent decisions about the problems that face us.

The reason why this has been such a partisan issue is the fact that many core Republican constituencies have ideological commitments that stand in opposition to what mainstream science is telling us. Evolution, global warming, and birth control and morning after pills are three of the most obvious examples. What do you do when serious science contradicts your ideological beliefs? You do what the tobacco companies have done - use political muscle to muzzle government scientists and their reports, set up your own imitation scientific research to try to cast uncerainty on mainstream science, and paint scientists as people who are just as partisan as you are.

In the end though, the Bush administration is proving that ideological fantasy can only beat out the real world for so long before reality bites you in the ass. Those of us who try to remain in the reality-based community hope that Chris Mooney is right, and that, at least temporarily, voters are starting to recognize how they have been poorly served by an administration that thinks bullying scientists can actually exempt you from the laws of nature.