Waiting for the end of the world–Elvis Costello
Here’s what Noam Chomsky has to say about the Republican leadership debates:
“[W]hat’s going on there is just off the international spectrum of sane behavior.”
You may have heard about how the frontrunners for the leadership of the Republican party are massacring science. Michelle Bachmann (left) is probably winning on that front having claimed that Hurricane Irene was God warning the US about government spending or that the HPV vaccine causes, in her words, “mental retardation.” I’m sure we don’t even have to get started on climate change. It’s now a given that if you even want to consider running the Republican party, you have to deny that humans are modifying the climate. How have these people who could potentially lead the most powerful nation on Earth completely lost any contact with reality? Paul Nurse, in the New Scientist, says it best:
One problem is treating scientific discussion as if it were political debate. When some politicians try to sway public opinion, they employ the tricks of the debating chamber: cherry-picking data, ignoring the consensus opinions of experts, adept use of a sneer or a misplaced comparison, reliance on the power of rhetoric rather than argument. They can often get away with this because the media rely too much on confrontational debate in place of reasoned discussion.
Maybe these people, having been in politics or law for too long, have forgotten that not all debates are winnable by pure showmanship. Of course, you can win a scientific debate in the short term on showmanship–and that is surely the only thing these politicians are interested in–but reality doesn’t obey the results of such debates. Reality, be it climate change or vaccines or evolution, is going to keep doing what it does and if we’re not on board with what it’s doing, there will be no debating our way out of the consequences.