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11 October 2011

Facts are not beholden to opinions

The season of "I'll say anything to get a job" is now in full swing.  Others call it election season, but hey, we all know what it is.  The sad part about this though is that some of the things that these critters are saying is just outright false.  You have such crazy doozies as Michelle Bachman totally leaving the reservation of reality (but then that's to be expected).  Rick Parry is equally as loony, and Donald Prothero at Skepticblog tackles some of that.  I figured that I'd pass some of that info along.  I suppose it must be especially bad if Fox News is actually calling you out on it (the emphasis is mine)!

It happens so often that we are inured and desensitized to it. Creationists spout lies and distortions about science and reality, and no one disputes them (except an occasional high school student who challenged Michele Bachmann’s assertion that Nobelists denied evolution). Politicians like Rick Perry and Bachmann get up and brag about their doubts about the reality of global climate change and evolution, and they become the darlings of the GOP. Partisan media like Fox News and their parent company NewsCorp admit that they are receiving money from GOP candidates, or funneling it to them, and no one seems to care. News Corp and Rupert Murdoch get away with all sorts of outrages in their tabloids, yet they are so powerful that British politicians and cops dare not cross them—until their actions are so extreme that all of the UK is disgusted with them. But every once in a while, the cat is let out of the bag, and someone says something that reveals how these people are either abysmally ignorant of reality because of deluded ideology, or they are smart enough to recognize it but play along in a cynical grab for power over those who are ignorant or ill informed.

The latest incident occurred when two pundits on Fox News were discussing the GOP candidates. They point to Jon Huntsman as the sole candidate who would admit that global warming is real (Romney, Gingrich, and others who also once admitted it are now backtracking to kowtow to the extremists who vote in GOP primaries and caucuses). They comment that he’s losing ground to Rick Perry, who made false claims not only about global warming but also about how scientists were allegedly committing fraud. One of the Fox anchors, Clayton Morris, says it it in no uncertain terms:

Certainly, if you dive into the weeds a little bit on this global warming thing, you see that it seems the facts are certainly on Huntsman’s side on all of this and fact checkers have come out, and we’re actually having our own brain room look at this right now, that any of Perry’s comments don’t seem to hold a lot of water. But it doesn’t matter, because what’s resonating right now in South Carolina is helping Governor Perry tremendously. He fired back at Huntsman on global warming and gaining traction, facts or not.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE BLOG ENTRY!  Please do, he says some really pertinent things.  There is also a series of quotes at the start of his blog article that are all worthwhile reading.  As a matter of fact, these quotes lead directly to a post made by Phil Plait over at Bad Astronomy that is right in line with this. He has a post he calls GOP senior officials quietly trying to restore science to their agenda which I think is worth reading:
If you’ve read this blog for more than a few nanoseconds, you know how incensed I am over the blatantly antiscience trend in the Republican leadership. As I have pointed out before, supporting the reality of global warming or evolution is akin to political suicide if you are a candidate for office in the GOP. The attacks on science by the far right are not new, but the openness and outspoken nature of it are fairly recent. Even Newt Gingrich, who used to a be a strong supporter of science, is making Michele Bachmann-level misstatements about it.

So I was very glad to read an article at the National Journal saying that older leaders of the Republican party are trying to re-establish the role of science in the GOP:
But quietly, many acknowledge a deepening GOP schism over the issue, as many moderates grow increasingly disturbed by their party’s denial of proven science. A number of influential Republicans who have left the battlefield of electoral politics are now taking action in an effort to change the GOP’s stance.
And we’re not talking about lightweights, either. People like former (under Bush I) Secretary of State George Shultz, who said this:
"My own opinion is that this [climate change] problem is very real," Shultz told National Journal. "I recognize there’s a lot of people pooh-poohing it. Whether they like the science or not, there’s a huge problem coming at us. There’s a huge melt coming in the Arctic regions. There’s melting taking place." Of Republicans like [Presidential candidate Rick] Perry who deny climate science, he said, "They’re entitled to their opinion, but they’re not entitled to the facts."
CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE BLOG ENTRY.  Even though Secretary Schultz messed up the Senator Moynihan quote a bit, I was glad to see this.  As I lamented a while back, it's sad that adhereing to reality is a career killer for a GOP candidate...

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