Monday, March 2, 2009

Republicans and Science

My sympathies are split between the Democratic and Republican parties. I generally support the social liberalism that the Democratic party espouses, while supporting the avowed fiscal conservatism and hawkish foreign policy of the Republicans. But there's one issue that's recently turned me more and more off the Republican establishment, and that's their public perspective on science.

During the Presidential campaign, McCain mocked the idea of upgrading the projection system in a planetarium, and Palin made fun of fruit fly research, which is essential to continued research in genetics. They both looked like backwards assholes.

And in his response to Obama's Congressional address, Louisiana Governor and rising Republican star Bobby Jindal pulled the same shit, mocking magnetically-levitating high speed rails (with a tone that suggested it was akin to voodoo), and worse, making fun of "something called volcano monitoring". As a number of bloggers, scientists and laymen, have pointed out, far from being frivolous, volcano monitoring is an essential component of natural disaster prevention for those in potentially-affected areas. Would "something called hurricane monitoring" be just as ludicrous?

Look, there are more and less legitimate scientific spending projects. If you think the money is better spent on one project as opposed to another, say so. But what the Republicans have systematically been engaged in is a kind of populist, intellectual warfare where they mention a scientific spending project as if it's the most absurd thing we could be spending money on. I think they think this will resonate with an average voter, and it just might, but at the expense of sowing further misunderstanding and distrust of the scientific community, and potentially jeopardizing legitimate investment in research and technology, which is a bedrock of American innovation and economic strength.

If these top-tiered leaders of the Republican party really don't understand the projects, then they should just keep their mouths shut. But I think it's probably the more egregious case where they actually understand the issues, but are just trying to score political points by exploiting ignorance and mistrust.

Either way, it really pisses me off.


Philip said...

The former governor blamed the federal government for the Katrina catastrophe, and the current governor blames the federal government for spending on measures to avoid disasters.

Fucking Louisiana.

Kenny Wyland said...

Look, there are more and less legitimate scientific spending projects. If you think the money is better spent on one project as opposed to another, say so.


I would have SO much more respect for them if they would disagree for a particular reason, but when they use that unspoken disdain for intellectual pursuits it just makes me want to yell at them.

Anonymous said...

Whatever the term is for people with our political orientation, I think it's likely a good portion of us are disaffected by the Republican leaderships' casting aspersions on investments in science, basic or otherwise. It's nonsense.

It would be more reasonable to talk about increased oversight. Idiot projects don't tend to get funded -- but in any soft money environment, plenty of money that sounds like it's been earmarked for a good cause gets blown.


mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AxiomCathexes said...

Well said sir