The Other “Anti-Science” Party

The phrase that makes up the title of this post has been getting a good bit of play in the mainstream press lately. The occasion for invoking it—more specifically, for branding the Republican Party as the party of “anti-science”—is the entry into the presidential race of Rick Perry, who is governor of a state that, by his own admission, teaches creationism in its public school classrooms.

The New Republic, in an uncharacteristic act of charity, defends Perry against the charges of despising science per se, adding, “He rejects scientific findings when they complicate his theological or ideological worldview.” [Emphasis in the original]

Putting aside Perry’s views on evolution, isn’t it unscientific to impute the views of one member of a group to the entire population? Paul Krugman, whose Sunday column in the New York Times was titled “Republicans Against Science,” apparently thinks not. Ditto for Al Gore, who has become absolutely apoplectic over skeptics of the view that recent changes in climate are (to coin a phrase) “man-caused disasters.”

Let’s assume for the moment that Gore is right—that the planet teeters on the brink of climactic catastrophe and that human technology is entirely to blame. Before we start fashioning dunce caps for Republicans and other non-believers in scientific “fact,” a question raised by Jonah Goldberg at “The Corner” requires an answer:

Why does the Left get to pick which issues are the benchmarks for “science”? Why can’t the measure of being pro-science be the question of heritability of intelligence? Or the existence of fetal pain? Or the distribution of cognitive abilities among the sexes at the extreme right tail of the bell curve?

Jonah goes on to cite close to a dozen scientific issues Democrats would rather not talk about, including nuclear power, which if used more widely as an energy source would diminish Americans’ reliance on environment-destroying fossil fuels.

Why are these topics not open for discussion and debate? Could it be Democrats are bullish on science only so long as the subject matter isn’t disquieting or likely to upset their base?

Consider their fondness for parading lists of signatories from the science community who swear on a stack of Bibles (whoops! Make that a copy of Darwin) that, for example, humans have the capacity to effect major planetary change. If a list of signatories is the measure of an argument’s validity, then why do Democrats choose to ignore this list of names appended to a statement that posits 25 general conclusions about nature of human intellgience, one of which follows?

The bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks. The evidence is less definitive for exactly where above IQ 100 the bell curves for Jews and Asians are centered.

These findings are troublesome for a political party that would choose to coddle one of its most loyal voter blocs rather than expose them to the truth.They are also a tough pill to swallow for blacks, who have been reassured repeatedly that their below-average test scores are the product of years of systematic oppression or cultural bias in the test, not some inborn limitation. If one wanted to be really cruel, one might even accuse Democrats and blacks of rejecting scientific findings when they complicate their ideological worldview.

In full disclosure, let me be the first to point out that this statement was published in 1994. Let me also point out that the research since then has been ongoing and that the theory supporting a connection between race and intelligence has gained even wider acceptance.

Discussion, anyone?

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