Few Years back, Gillian Tett of the Financial Times wrote an opinion piece titled, ‘Why doesn’t America like science?’ mentioning the amazing fact that only three of eight Republican candidates believe in evolution. Today the situation hasn’t much, with the US pulling out of Paris climate accord and politicians openly denying global warming.
I will keep political opinions out of this piece, but I have to put some interesting points from this article before you, regarding science, politics and belief (and oh my word, what is the world coming to):
Only forty-five per cent of Americans believe in evolution, according to a survey by the National Science Foundation, a statistic that is low compared to acceptance in other countries. This single finding, however, was deleted from the National Science Foundation’s 2010 Science and Engineering Indicators report at the last minute by the National Science Board, which oversees the NSF.
Science magazine tracked down the missing result, and were told that the NSB “chose to leave the section out . . . because the survey questions used to measure knowledge of the two topics force respondents to choose between factual knowledge and religious beliefs.”
The Science article goes on: “Board members say the decision to drop the text was driven by a desire for scientific accuracy,” and that “the survey questions that NSF has used for 25 years . . . were ‘flawed indicators of scientific knowledge.’ ”
Where’s the flaw in these exact words from the survey?: “True or false: Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals.”
Moving on, Tett mentions that Mitt Romney suffered a backlash after defending evidence-based science. Before the 2008 election, Romney supported teaching evolution in schools, but he went silent by 2012, seemingly siding with creationists then.
An excerpt from a New Scientist article on science in America (subscription needed) describes the backtracking that these outspoken, in-the-right-direction politicians sadly succumb to:
When leading candidate Mitt Romney said: “I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer… humans contribute to that”, conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh responded with “Bye bye, nomination”. Romney back-pedalled, saying, “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”
Jon Huntsman, another Republican presidential wannabe who had only 2.2% popularity in polls, said that he believes “in evolution and trust[s] scientists on global warming” (although he did follow that brave outburst of truth and support with a cowardly and non-committal “Call me crazy”). A Republican strategist by the name of Dan Hazelwood thinks that Huntsman’s science-supporting crazy talk is down to Huntsman “desperately searching for a way to become relevant,” and that “he needs controversy.”
The Boston Herald claims that Huntsman is too sane and plain for the Republican madhouse, and his other views are seemingly too liberal for Republican voters: he supports same-sex civil unions and bringing troops back from Afghanistan.
When did science become an opinion?
And are our politicians next going to challenge the existence of gravity?
What is your call?