Politics and Science

This post is a bit of a departure from what I usually blog about and I hope regular readers won’t be offended.  Bear with me, there’s more of the usual stuff coming soon…

I work hard to keep my religious and political views out of this blog.  I don’t think that these issues really matter when we’re talking about improving the public education system in this great country.  I used to feel the same way about science–my first career–and my views came from a place that I don’t talk about very much.  I have strong feelings about the size of government, but there are three major roles that I think are worthy of our tax dollars: healthcare, education, and science research.

While we have recently witnessed a remarkable erosion of the public’s perception of educators, I always (naïvely) believed that scientific endeavors would remain above the political fray because of the obvious value they bring to our world.  In our everyday lives it would be difficult to name even one minute when we aren’t benefitting from the work of scientists.

And so, it is with tremendous sadness and fear that I watch the Republican candidates for U.S. President trip over each other trying to be the most ignorant and anti-science.  I don’t understand how disparaging scientists and denying proven scientific evidence can make a public figure popular.  Who are these members of the voting public who value candidates oblivious to the world around them?  Who are they pandering to?  What happened to the old Grand Old Party?

Michelle Bachman’s latest rant, during the recent Republican debate, about the Gardisil HPV vaccine is full of ridiculously false accusations.  And, thankfully, even pundits in her own party are challenging her:

But, she’s not alone… or unpopular.  How bad is it?  Even Republican candidate John Huntsman said in a recent debate,

“Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I’m saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science.”

My frustration is eclipsed only by the fear I feel for our students.  How many of their role models will make clear the importance of science?  What will their science classrooms look like?  Their textbooks?