Conservatives Don't Care About Science. (Neither Do Liberals.)

Neither side is really looking for the truth. What they're looking for is ammunition.


You can't swing a dead cat by the tail these days without hitting a liberal who thinks conservatives don't believe in science. The liberals exaggerate, but they have a point.

Half of those who self-identify as tea partiers do not believe in global warming. And despite mounting evidence, overall GOP acceptance of climate science has fallen in recent years. Likewise, half of tea partiers don't believe in evolution. This actually might qualify as progress: A 2007 Gallupsurvey showed 68 percent of all Republicans reject evolution.

This is pretty jarring when juxtaposed with Republicans' frequent insistence that – as Virginia governor-elect George Allen put it in 1995 – regulatory policies should be "based on sound science." Indeed, three of the past four GOP platforms have included passages about the need for sound science. And yet the Bush era was rife with tales about the muzzling of climatologist James Hansen, or the political appointee who edited a NASA website so it termed the Big Bang a "theory" – because to do otherwise insulted the possibility of an intelligent designer.

The disconnect ceases to be a mystery if you assume that arguments about science are really surrogates for something else. The fault lines over evolution are not merely partisan, for example. Five years ago Gallup reported that only 24 percent of those who attend church weekly accept evolution as fact. But of those who attend church rarely or never, only 26 percent take issue with evolution. That's because for cultural conservatives, evolution is not about archaeology and genetics. As Rick Santorum put it in a radio interview several years ago, it raises questions such as: "Is there a purpose for our lives? Or are we just simply, you know, the result of chance?"

In this light, the GOP's truculent resistance to warnings about climate change also ceases to baffle. Most of those warnings have come from the left, or sources perceived as left-wing: environmentalists, academia, the UN. And alarms about the problem usually precede demands for big-government solutions. Republicans aren't hostile to ice core data in the abstract. But if Al Gore cites it, the right won't believe it.

Before liberals start to feel too smug about all of this, they need to look back at the numerous instances when they, too, have rejected science for the sake of ideology.

In the 1980s, America went through big scares about disappearing farm land and the pesticide Alar. The former, ostensibly caused by sprawl and erosion, was threatening to "end U.S. food exports," asThe Chigago Tribune put it. (Al Gore was worried about that, too.) Under environmentalist pressure, the EPA banned Alar because it supposedly could give kids tumors – never mind that it was no more carcinogenic than the apples it was sprayed on.

In the 1990s, Dow Corning was bankrupted by lawsuits over silicone-gel breast implants. Driven by Naderite interest groups and feminist dogma about "concepts of beauty," the FDA had asked doctors to stop using such implants – despite the lack of any evidence that they presented a health risk. Subsequent findings for the Institute of Medicine, a federal court, and many others all failed to find any such evidence as well. This month the FDA began approving the implants again.

In recent years progressives also have raised alarms about genetically modified foods – "frankenfoods," as critics call them – even though two studies by the National Academies of Sciences have found they present no danger.

Four years ago, the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned the FDA to ban the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). This past weekend, the FDA declined to do so. But several food packaging companies already have ceased using BPA out of public-relations concerns. The FDA commissioned studies from the Pacific Northwest National Lab and its owhn National Center for Toxicological Research. Both studies failed to find any potential harm from BPA exposure.

All of these cases were driven not by scientific fact, but by liberalism's preferred narrative: Malevolent corporations endanger health and the environment and must be stopped by robust government intervention.

Many progressives now advocate an even more extreme approach, known as the precautionary principle. According to Cass Sunstein, president Obama's regulatory Czar, that principle "requires regulation of activities even if it cannot be shown that those activities are likely to produce significant harms." In other words: Never mind the science, just pass the rules.

Religious conservatives are not the only one to protect their sacred cows. Just look at what happened to Larry Summers, who was forced to resign from the presidency of Harvard seven years ago. Why? Because he raised the possibility that one reason fewer women reach the upper echelons of math and science is an innate difference between the genders. Summers didn't say he liked that explanation, or even that he believed it. He simply floated a hypothesis. Yet immediately the nation shook with the sound of 112 million minds slamming shut.

This doesn't mean liberals are hostile to science in the abstract, either. Like conservatives, they're happy to cite research that supports their point of view. And like conservatives, they're eager to dispute research that does not. Neither side is really looking for the truth. What they're looking for is ammunition.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this column originally appeared. 

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  1. Part of the anger over stuff like evolution is being forced to pay for government-mandated schools which teach ideology (or science) which is at odds with what parents believe.

    If you have free public schools, someone has to decide what ideological orthodoxy is.

    1. Dumbass parents should be last in line to determine a school system’s curriculum.

      I’d never heard of Alar until now. Its not exactly an equivalent to the bigger scientific issues of genetics and climatology.

      1. As AA said, the problem is subsidized education.

        If parents paid, or even had control of how the funds were utilized, they would be far less motivated to spend them on indoctrination to the god and dogma of the ‘left’ or the ‘right’. They would instead want to be certain real education occurred.

        But if you don’t pay, the temptation to push your dogma is irresistible. Public education was in fact originally meant to force non protestants to subsidize the protestant indoctrination of their own children. Of course now the tool is used against them and used to indoctrinate their children to the god of the state, but the point remains.

        So long as there is power to indoctrinate, it will be used. The truth doesn’t need government, which is the same thing as saying education doesn’t need government.

        You only need government in order to assert false or non-falsifiable positions.

        And if you think people in the education industrial complex are smarter than parents as a group, you haven’t talked to them or listened to them.

        Most parents are smart enough to hold jobs without unions and government protecting the incompetent.

      2. I’d never heard of Alar until now.

        60 Minutes, February 26, 1989. You must be very young. The media had my neighbors scared out of their minds with weekly announcements of what else caused cancer. Peanut butter, grilling, frying, cream of mushroom soup, relish, carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery, roasted nuts, lettuce, arugula, turkey, beef, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, bread, butter, pumpkin, grapes, mangos, pears, pineapple, red and white wine, coffee, tea… and, oh yeah, apples.

        1. Also, Meryl Streep.

        2. The only product I believed caused cancer were cigarettes but as a non-smoker I had no interest in denial.

          1. Oh what a sheltered live you have lived.

      3. Dumbass parents should be last in line to determine a school system’s curriculum.
        right, because professional educators have done such a splendid job of it.

      4. “Dumbass parents…” Lovely. I am old enough to remember when liberals claimed so love and respect “the common man.”

        1. Shrike only loves and respects the common man who isn’t a christfag. The second someone outs themselves as a believer they get tossed in the “dumbass parents” category.

          Believe in evolution or the big bang and that Jesus didn’t ride dinosaurs? Too bad, you’re still a knuckle dragging christfag moron.

          1. Of course he’s convinced there’s no alternative to evolution because he can cite chapter and verse the intracies of string theory and the 2nd law of thermal dynamics off the top of his head.

      5. Yes, though I’ve seen a good deal of scientific illiteracy on the left, I must agree that it is a false equivalence being put forward here. Wanting to take a precautionary approach to banning pesticides and additives used on food which might possibly cause cancer when the evidence is ambiguous is hardly on par with denying central theses of biology, climatology, and astrophysics. In fact it seems a rational policy. I’d much rather the government ban chemicals in food products when there is any indication that they might cause cancer, then lift the ban only when proven safe, than the converse-only ban the chemicals when they are positively proven to cause cancer in humans. By that time, millions will have been exposed to carcinogens. Better to be wrong and alive than wrong and dead.

        1. How about the lefties’ obsession with eugenics much earlier in the century? Also based on so-called science.

    2. I’m sorry, but why should children be deprived of a good scientific education because their parents choose to ardently believe in fairy tales about snakes and apples.

      1. Unless you plan on becoming a theoretical physicist, does the origin point of the universe really have that much bearing on “a good scientific education”? Does abiogenesis and speciation (both of which remain no where near a scientific consensus from an evolutionary biology perspective)? Dawkins and Gould don’t see eye to eye on punctuated equilibrium. Which one was deprived of a good scientific education?

        It’s worth pointing out, too, that the Catholic church – the largest Christian church in the world – teaches a standard science curriculum on evolution. And then in 6th period when the kids study theology they are taught that God directed whatever natural physical processes occur in our universe. Does it matter, in terms of having a “good scientific education” whether they believe philosophically they have some god-directed purpose as human beings or whether they believe they are a mass of cells in a state of biological flux waiting to die?

        1. Because that would conflict with the theology of state as God?

      2. How about: because their kids are no business of yours.

  2. OK, so I don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming as a significant threat. That’s in part because I know they used to grow grapes in Britain when the Romans were there. There are many other indications that it has been much warmer than it is now and that those were good times for human populations.

    1. Well then, you’re just a filthy denier and we all know we don’t have to read another word you say from here on out.

      1. Yep! And you never had to anyway. Especially if you work for me. Get off the internet you slob!

    2. Don’t forget the Viking’s farming Greenland.

      1. Aye, Sqo’tty MacKlingon, but then it got too cold. (The Industrial Revolution erased the sunspots.)

    3. They grow grapes in Britain now. I grow grapes and I live in the Rocky Mountains. You need a better example.

  3. And despite mounting evidence, overall GOP acceptance of climate science has fallen in recent years.

    Tricky, tricky!

    Climate science =/= Climate change a.k.a. Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis.

    1. Yeah irony thy name is Hinkle. Equating disbelief in evolution (scientifically wrong) with disbelief in AGW (scientifically correct) is a perfect example of what Hinkle is discussing here.

      1. Equating disbelief in evolution (scientifically wrong)

        To be fair, evolution is merely a theory.

        Although, like the general theory of relativity, it appears to be correct very very very often.

        1. Do your grandchildren look like your grandparents did? Something’s changing!

          1. I was really playing devil’s advocate; but I am open to another theory of how we got here if one happens to develop that sounds more logical.

            1. No one gives a shit if it’s logical (by which I assume you mean, self-evident) or not. What matters is if it agrees with the experimental evidence. And as far as we know, evolutionary biology does. Extremely well.

          2. Which does not have all that much to do with evolution.

        2. for a theory, evolution has done quite a nice job of avoiding being disproved. For further evidence, just look at Darwin: it was not survival of the fittest or strongest, but of those best able to adapt to changing conditions.

          What AGW cultists refuse to accept is that nature, as a whole, is an ever-changing living organism. It survived far worse calamities than air conditioning and SUVs. And they really hate being told how all those dreaded fossil fuels were part of nature, too, and man figured out how to make productive use of them.

          1. What AGW cultists refuse to accept is that nature, as a whole, is an ever-changing living organism.

            Of course. Because if it’s ever-changing, you can’t ever centrally plan everything, meaning you can’t ever have total control.

          2. CAGW, dude. Don’t forget that critical “C” for Catastrophic.

          3. I know I am splitting hairs here, but evolution is driven by those individuals best adapted for the environment. For example, if suddenly our source of food required long fingers, only those with long fingers would survive to procreate. Once again, I understand that the above might sound semantic, but it is an important distinction.

            1. Or those with shorter fingers, like Warty, would enslave or otherwise use the ones with long fingers to ferret out their food for them.

        3. Saying “its only a theory” is very misleading. By definition, there is no way that evolution could ever be more than a thoery, even if God himself came down from heaven and backed up the “theory”.

        4. “Theory” does not mean “hypothesis.” In general, a scientific theory indicates truth, with a few gaps in the information. Hence, saying we don’t know everything about how evolution works is correct. Saying that it isn’t true is contraindicated by the evidence.

      2. It appears some libertarians don’t care about science either. Anthropogenic global warming isn’t “scientifically wrong,” according to an overwhelmingly large majority of climate scientists, and scientists in general. The only scientists who are prominent dissenters seem to have connections with energy companies. Hmm. It makes me laugh when conservatives dismiss global warming as a big conspiracy when all the “brave dissenters” against the “hoax” seem to be coming only from a trillion dollar industry with its future at stake. Yet it clearly must be the climate scientists making less than six figures in academia who are trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

      3. It appears some libertarians don’t care about science either. Anthropogenic global warming isn’t “scientifically wrong,” according to an overwhelmingly large majority of climate scientists, and scientists in general. The only scientists who are prominent dissenters seem to have connections with energy companies. Hmm. It makes me laugh when conservatives dismiss global warming as a big conspiracy when all the “brave dissenters” against the “hoax” seem to be coming only from a trillion dollar industry with its future at stake. Yet it clearly must be the climate scientists making less than six figures in academia who are trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.

        1. Interesting line you’re taking. Would the IPCC count as one of those dissenters with ties to the energy companies? Because they recently released a report claiming that there is no link between carbon emissions and extreme weather. Which seems to have been a rallying cry amongst the CAGW crowd.

          1. Do you even understand what the dissenters are dissenting about? It has to do with the fact that the climate models which have been published haven’t come close to accurately predicting global climate trends.

            The reason? No one has any idea about the feedback mechanisms at play. We’ve known since the 1900s that doubling the amount of CO2 warms the climate by 2.4C. That’s easy physics. But what happens when the CO2 is accompanied by N2O (which has a cooling effect)? Or the many other feedback mechanisms of an inordinately complex system? No model has gotten these things right.

            1. And to suggest that it’s all about the energy companies is absurd. You think that these companies, with massive resources and some of the brightest minds in the world, aren’t interested in green energy? Just look at the potential market associated with it. I guarantee that the energy companies would gladly jump on green energy if it were commercially viable.

              But that’s the problem. It ain’t viable. Solar tech (at least based on inorganics…I have some hope from the polymer based technology) is a ridiculously expensive joke. Fusion is still 50 years away. What’s left? Wind?

              It ain’t happening anytime soon. But not because of some plotting by the energy companies. It’s because of the physical and technological limitations.

              1. But maybe those big bad KOCHsuckers are conspiring to change the laws of physics?

  4. “What they’re looking for is ammunition”
    Well, Duh!!

  5. Wait, the Big Bang is no longer a theory? A shitty reason to call it one is to not offend fans of ID, but isn’t it still a theory?

    1. “Theory” in the scientific sense has a different definition than in common usage. People get them mixed up all the time and say “it’s just a theory” all time and look extra retarded.

      1. Yes it does have different meanings. But scientifically it is still a theory, no?

        1. Indeed it is. This article is full of idiocy.

        2. Every assertion science makes is a theory. In fact, ‘scientific assertion’ and ‘theory’ are synonymous. So, yeah, scientifically it is just a theory. You know, like gravity. Just a theory.

          1. No gravity is a fact based on proven theory where as the Big Bang is still a theory only because it hasn’t been completely proven yet but it is our best bet and since the Big Bang theory itself is sometimes changing it is not fact yet. Now Back to gravity if you look into Eintien’s theory of relativity gravity may not actually exist it’s actually the perceived effect of time according to some scholars but if the effect is there then it may has well be what it is gravity.

            1. Generally speaking, scientific theories are not theories that something exists, they are theories of how the things work. There are multiple theories of gravity and multiple theories of evolution but none deny that gravity or evolution exist.

            2. a proven theory?

              Proof only exists in mathematics. Nothing in the real, physical world can ever be proven.
              A scientific theory has been tested extensively and found to be true in all tests. It’s the closest thing to proof that exists in the real world.

            3. That gravity exists is a fact. What exactly gravity is, is still theory.

              1. “That gravity exists is a fact, in our experience thus far.”

                The house is white on this side.

                1. Ok. Let’s get it straight. A theory is a scientific hypothesis which has so far stood up to the experimental evidence related to it. By which I mean that it’s predictions are consistent with experimental results. Does that mean a theory has to be right all the time? No. For instance, the law of universal gravitation flat out fails in a whole host of situations (which is why general relativity is around). But it’s consistent with a ton of experimental results in a limited number of circumstances, so it’s a theory that’s good for those circumstances.

                  1. We occasionally use the word ‘law’ to describe some theories which seem to have been true for a huge number of circumstances. As far as we know, the 3 laws of thermodynamics are valid everywhere and at all times in our universe. Same with the conservation laws (of energy, momentum, lepton number, etc). But we rarely give theories the name of law and only do so in the most far-reaching cases.

                    1. So, if you get a theory named after you, be damned proud of that. You’ve probably won a Nobel Prize for it.

  6. This is pretty jarring when juxtaposed with Republicans’ frequent insistence that ? as Virginia governor-elect George Allen put it in 1995 ? regulatory policies should be “based on sound science.”

    This is because they’re not being honest – NO regulation can be shown to be based on sound science because their intend is to modify an economic outcome, not a physical or biological one, which means it was never about the science, at least not a natural one.

    1. NO regulation can be shown to be based on sound science because their intend is to modify an economic outcome, not a physical or biological one, which means it was never about the science, at least not a natural one.

      This isn’t true; Just laws regulate human behavior to promote better physical outcomes. Such as laws against murder, etc.

      Unfortunately, those laws are very simple and were written a long time ago, and the politicians got bored and feared for their easy lives when they realized that we might one day not give them the “respect” they “deserve.”

      1. great point considering all laws written since Moses came off the mountain are just extension of those first 10 laws.

        1. The Ten Commandments are God’s basic rules about how we should live ? a brief list of sacred obligations and solemn moral precepts.
          The first nine Commandments concern theological principles and social law. But then, right at the end, is ‘Don’t envy your buddy’s cow.’ How did that make the top ten? What’s it doing there? Why would God, with just ten things to tell Moses, choose as one of those things jealousy about the starter mansion with in-ground pool next door?
          Yet think how important the Tenth Commandment is to a community, to a nation, indeed to a presidential election. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don’t be a jerk and whine about what the people across the street have ? go get your own.
          The Tenth Commandment sends a message to all the jerks who want redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, more government programs, more government regulation, more government, less free enterprise, and less freedom. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell. P.J. O’Rourke

  7. Half of those who self-identify as tea partiers do not believe in global warming. And despite mounting evidence
    Once you take away the fraudulent findings and data, you are not left with much to believe in. Can you provide a link to some “mounting evidence” that is verifiable and repeatable?

    1. Why bother? You’re one of the denialists. All the evidence in the world won’t matter to you.

      1. “The western antactic ice sheet is melting!”
        And has been for 15,000 years.
        “Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice cap?”
        Same temperature, far below freezing. Deforestation at the base of the mountain has robbed it of moisture.
        “The Rhode-Island-size iceberg?”
        Almost took it back to the 1901 line. Yes, still bigger than in 1901.

      2. and yet, when prompted for a piece of evidence, any evidence, shrike attacks the questioner. THAT is one reason why people do not trust science.

        1. I’ve argued with enough Creationists and/or AGW Denialists. Their minds are closed. It’s a tenet of Conservatism.

          1. calling them denialists does nothing to invalidate their claim. Please. The AGW cult is the same group that gave us the Ice Age Acometh in the 70s. Since that didn’t work, the narrative had to change. Do you really NOT find it curious that virtually everyone pushing the AGW narrative relies on govt for funding. Never mind the sheer arrogance of the notion that little ole man can change climate.

            1. It’s not arrogant to proclaim that you know more than virtually all experts in the world on this subject?

              1. Are you a spoof or did you put spaces between the letters to try and fool the system?

                1. Someone else already signed up with my handle.

                  You know, once libertarians discovered the virtues of regulation, to protect themselves from the perhaps most minor inconveniences conceivable.

                  1. Who ever said anybody is against regulation? Oh, I see, you were just being purposefully obtuse, in order to make what you mistakenly thought was a point.

                    1. Every libertarian and Republican?

                      Or is it just the ones that protect air, water, and food? Comments boards? Too vital to leave to the whims of freedom!

                    2. Still obtuse, I see, so I’ll spell it out for you. You cry regulation, and apparently believe that you’re making some kind of point, but you clearly do not consider: regulation by whom, of what, and by what means? By Reason, of Reason’s property, on the basis of commenter’s voluntary participation. Whether they like it or not, personally, I doubt you’ll find many here who do not support Reason’s right to do it, unconditionally.

                    3. And I fully support regulation of comments boards.

                      And air and water pollution, for that matter.

                      So libertarianism is just little islands of as much tyranny as you want? And that’s OK because the only oppressive power that really matters is that of the US federal government?

                    4. You seem to frequently assert that, if you can find some example of a regulation or a tax that libertarians support, then you have refuted all their claims against any regulation, taxation, or government spending.

                      The question is simply whether or not to regulate everything or nothing, tax everything or nothing, and spend everything or nothing. In every case, there are questions of whether or not to engage in said activity, and, if engaging, to what extent.

                      The debate between libertarianism and any other viewpoint hinges on all of these, not just the extremes.

                      Arguing these more intelligently would probably be more effective than constructing straw men of libertarians as selective anarchist/tyrants, and then lighting them on fire.

                      For example, if you support regulating water, but not regulating speech and/or abortion, are you a hypocrite?

                  2. Who would fake being Tony? I suspect that tribal dude. I’m glad he sin’t around anymore. Much quieter

      3. Hey shit-for-brains, see my comment below on whippoorwills.

        1. Not sure how that happened but shit-for-brains is an alternate spelling for ‘shriek’.

    2. Can you provide a link to some “mounting evidence” that is verifiable and repeatable?

      It was hotter today than it was last week!!!1111one


  8. Many progressives now advocate an even more extreme approach, known as the precautionary principle.

    What do you mean “now”??? I’ve heard liberals apply the totally irrational “precautionary principle” since the 80’s.

    “Don’t do anything, because it may hurt the environment!” was the common criticism against that “principle” back in the Reagan days, when Science Digest was still being published.

    1. The precautionary principle is “Everything that is not permitted is prohibited.” (AKA German law.) Which is directly contradictory to the English common law which – once upon a time – informed American jurisprudence.

      It is not just Cass Sunstein that thinks like a Good German.

  9. Liberals would never believe unsciencey things such as wind power being more dangerous than nuclear energy.

    1. “Dem burds n batz dun count. Wind power FTW!”

  10. Did “Big Bang” become a law when CBS named a series after the theory?

  11. All of these cases were driven not by scientific fact, but by liberalism’s preferred narrative: Malevolent corporations endanger health and the environment and must be stopped by robust government intervention.

    Something that makes one wonder which is worse: People’s reluctance to have their children taught evolution, or liberals’ social engineering schemes presumably based on ‘science’?

    Which one has killed more people, destroyed more communities, debased more currencies or brought chaos to delicate economic systems?

    1. Well, according to shrike, it is obviously those evil Christian Taliban that have killed more people and caused more destruction around the world than anyone ever in the history of the entire world.

    2. So now we have to choose between psychotic central planning and anti-scientific ignorance? Can’t we have neither?

      1. This may shock you…

        “No you can’t always get what you want,
        But if you try sometime, you just might find,
        You get what you need”

        I’ll take people’s ability to believe stupid things over people’s ability to do stupid things, any f’in day and all night long.

  12. Lefties keep quoting “The Jungle” as fact instead of fiction too.

  13. So Hinkle has jumped on the derp bandwagon of AGW? What the hell man!?!

  14. According to Cass Sunstein, president Obama’s regulatory Czar, that principle “requires regulation of activities even if it cannot be shown that those activities are likely to produce significant harms.”

    My recollection is that Cass Sunstein, whatever his other faults, argued against the precautionary principle in his former life. Am I wrong?

    1. No, I’m right. He wrote a whole book against it.

      AB-H wasn’t inaccurate here, but this was a bit misleading. If I hadn’t known better, I would have the impression that Obama’s regulatory czar favored the application of the precautionary principle.

      1. He could’ve changed his mind.

        1. Possible, admittedly, but that would be a six-sigma piece of hackery.

          1. And you put that past a man with political aspirations?

  15. I hate to say it, because I know how it sounds, but this article fails to mention the one most resounding liberal rejection of science: their rejection of findings about the correlation between race and intelligence. This is surely better-grounded than catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, but it is, not only ignored, but demonized and anathemetized by them.

    1. Race itself isn’t even scientific.

    2. Correlation does not imply causation.

      Also, you have to be very careful not to forget about things such as education, differing cultures, etc. when talking about issues of race.

  16. Poor James Hansen has been so terribly muzzled.

    The principal government spokesperson on the scientific merit of the Keystone Pipeline appears to be NASA’s James E. Hansen, the man who lit the bonfire of the global warming vanities way back in 1988. Googling “Hansen Keystone Pipeline” yields about 5.1 million hits. “Holdren Keystone Pipeline,” the president’s (and, in the past, Mitt Romney’s) science advisor (John Holdren), is good for about 74,000.

    As a result of his disproportionate influence, it’s high time to have an in-depth look at what Hansen advocates.

    According to Jim, if the pipeline is built, it would be “game over” on climate change. If the Alberta tar sands oil that passes through the pipeline is combusted, Hansen says that we won’t be able to “to preserve a planet for our children and grandchildren”.

    1. Hansen never met an apocalyptic scenario he didn’t like.

  17. “And despite mounting evidence, overall GOP acceptance of climate science has fallen in recent years.”

    Hinkle, someone is going to have to come to my house in central Louisiana and explain all that evidence of global warming to the whippoorwill that has taken up residence in my back yard. ( Look em up. the night was filled with their calls when I was a kid, then in the late 80’s they disappeared from this area. Now they are back.)

    1. Anecdote does not QED a theory.

      1. This evening I will tell the whippoorwill that. I am sure it will move on to more northern and cooler climes….
        And my banana trees will be raised from the dead. And my avocados….

  18. Humans will disappear from Earth one day, and a million years later it will be like we were never here. One hundred years later our remains will be the oil of the evolved rat people.

    Time will have ground us out of history like a millstone. And the Earth will still spin for another billion years until the sun turns red giant.

    There’s some Alar-scented, finely-textured beef science for ya’, crazy ends of the political spectrum.

    1. From George Carlin’s “The Planet Is Fine”:
      The planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here two hundred thousand? We’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. We have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a threat?
      Earth has been through a lot worse than us. Quakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, magnetic reversal of the poles…hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worlwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages…we think some plastic bags, and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference?
      You wanna know how the planet’s doing? Ask those people at Pompeii, who are frozen into position from volcanic ash, how the planet’s doing. You wanna know if the planet’s all right, ask those people in Mexico City or Armenia or a hundred other places buried under thousands of tons of earthquake rubble, if they feel like a threat to the planet this week.
      Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?” Plastic…asshole.

  19. Excellent article, but I do have one quibble. Technically, the “big bang” is indeed a scientific theory. According to the scientific method, it is a valid theory, as hypotheses are valid unless they are disproven.

  20. “Technically, the “big bang” is indeed a scientific theory.”

    Technically every assertion science makes is a theory. Gravity; pretty sound. Evolution; rock solid. CAGW; total bullshit. Big Bang; I never really bought it, my intuition tells me something is amiss here. But then, intuition is a terrible way to gauge something about cosmic time, scale, machinations, etc. .

    1. There are problems with the Big Bang – namely there isn’t enough visible matter to balance the equations in the cosmic books. So like good accountants astro-physicists came up with a way to plug that hole: “dark matter”. You can’t see it, but it’s there (because the math demands it). Either that, or the theory of gravity is wrong. Pick your poison.

      1. And they scoff at “faith”.

      2. Not only dark matter, but the redefinition (and renaming of) the “Law of The Conservation of Mass” to “Law of the Conservation of Mass/Energy”.

        1. Apparently it is now the “Law of Conservation of Information” and Hawking asserts that it is not actually a law (black holes violate it).

  21. Someone stole my handle. Can’t get rid of me that easily! Someone also registered my email address, so fuck you all.

    If you can’t handle quasi-anarchy on a message board, perhaps you ought to revisit your demands that it be imposed on everyone else.

    Anyway, applying the precautionary principle is not the same as being anti-science, and this equivalence argument remains stupid. You guys apply a precautionary principle when you say we should err on the side of non-regulation. Same thing. You’ve apparently overcome your concerns with comments registration. I wonder how many areas of life you guys have actually experienced that you don’t think some regulation is prudent–anarchy always sounds good in the abstract until you have to suffer. Like the brutal oppression of trolls and spam.

    Conservatives largely don’t believe in science itself, because they are religious fundamentalists, and science has always been a threat to that type of person. Liberals, whatever else, value science as the ultimate arbiter of what is known, and if you don’t you’re not a liberal.

    1. Believing in science or religion has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal. If you believe it does then your just a brainwashed lemming following your self appointed leaders blindly and you want everything and everyone to fit neatly into the little simplistic boxes you’ve created in your mind

      1. Believing in science or religion might not have a causal relationship, but it is correlated to the extreme.

        1. Not really.

          People just focus on the hard core religious types on the right because they are the easiest targets, and vice versa for the hard core anti religious types on the left. It’s simply easier to pick out lunatic fringe types and portray them as representative of an entire group and proceed to point out how stupid they are than to have a real debate with rational people on the other side of an issue.

          There have been thousands of polls taken about how many people in different voting blocks identify themselves as religious. And the statistics don’t back up your assertion. If it were even remotely true then it would be impossible to explain why blacks, latinos and jews vote overwhelmingly for liberal candidates. As a group they self identify as religious in a far greater percentage than whites, and yet 90% of them wouldn’t be caught dead voting for a conservative candidate.

    2. 1. Libertarians are not anarchists.
      2. Libertarians do not impose anarchy.
      3. Your definition of liberals classifies a large segment of people traditionally considered “liberal” outside of that category, since many have not even formed an opinion about “ultimate arbiters of what is known.”
      4. In terms of the precautionary principle: libertarians frequently express opinions supporting regulation when third parties are harmed, such as environmental regulation. It is not the same thing to disagree with the precautionary principle towards regulations that cannot be shown to address harm. That is, you can’t claim that libertarians believe in a precautionary principle just for rejecting a precautionary principle.

    3. Also, the definition of liberal has been bastardized to the point that, in actuality, you are not liberal, even though you think you are.

    4. …and if you don’t you’re not a liberal.

      No true liberal, just like there is no real Tony.

    5. I love it Tony! No matter how many times you are told that libertarian =/= anarchy, you keep coming back with that same tired load of crap.

      This is why people call you a dishonest fuckstick.

      1. Oh I’m fully aware that libertarians aren’t anarchists. You want me to pay for the government services you want, and everyone who’s not like you can fuck off and die, for all you care. I get it. You’re not anarchists. You’re liars, hypocrites, and morons.

        1. If you’re “fully aware” that libertarians are not anarchists, you probably shouldn’t have made the equivalence 2 posts up. You can’t differentiate one from another because you cannot wrap your mind around any other ideology than your own and won’t (can’t?) address any logical paradigm that does not begin with your own fundamental premises. Hilariously, you then project your own neuroses onto the people you disagree with, apparently utterly unaware of the fact that you are even doing it, which would be comical if it weren’t just a little bit sad. And then for the finale, you call names and declare yourself the victor because nobody else can call names as good as you can.

        2. If you aren’t for the government doing something, you don’t want it done at all!!!!11!!1!!!

          1. Why do people’s claims to yachts get taxpayer provided security but not poor children’s claim to the ability not to starve? Forget the hemming and hawing and changing the subject, answer that basic question.

            1. Because it’s theft. Why don’t you watch the you tube video “George ought to help.” Is it justified to use threats of violence to acquire the resources of another person, as long as you have good intentions regarding what you plan to do with it? If I could keep one million children starving by enslaving 1000 people, am I justified? Or killing one innocent person? Do we really live in a world where the only solution to poverty is threats of violence against people with resources?

              I think you are first required to show that it is ethical to force people to give you their property to achieve certain ends, since, in this case, you are the aggressor who is confiscating the property of others. It is their responsibility to justify to you why this is wrong.

              1. But it’s ethical to “steal” other people’s property to pay for police and courts to secure someone else’s claim to property?

                1. So, are you saying that you wish to change the subject to taxation used to support police and courts to secure property rights? We can do that.

                  There are libertarians that support limited taxation to solve the free-rider problem in terms of things like this. For example, if the state is engaged in enforcing property rights and settling disputes, then the people who rely on this service may have to pay for it, and, if the funds for providing security cannot be provided voluntarily, then this justifies a tax.

                  Some, however, actually support the idea that all protection from aggression can be provided by a free market, and this is preferable to threatening the use of force against people to make them pay for such protection, whether they want it or not.

                  However, all of these are framed on the assumption that you’re providing the resources necessary to then provide protection from aggression against people and property. Assuming a justification for wealth redistribution is far away. That is, you can’t just find an example of a libertarian who supports a tax and say, “See? You like taxes. Therefore, you admit that all taxes and spending by the state are justified.” You have to actually argue the point.

                  1. So taxes are off the table since we both agree that they can be legitimate and not the same thing as theft. Progress!

                    Your problem is redistribution. But even the limited services you favor require redistribution. From property owners to the government to the police and courts to the restitution paid to victims of crime. If you’re never a victim of crime you see no service, even though you paid. In order to have even a basic framework of a legitimate market system you must redistribute. Or do you suppose the poor ought not avail themselves of courts–or jails?

                    So you’re not against taxes or redistribution. You’re just for whatever keeps wealth in the hands of those who have it, and away from those who don’t, a status quo that may be more or less arbitrary. Fine, but if the market is all it’s cracked up to be, you could be on the losing end of its creative destruction from time to time. If not you, someone else. Maybe your grandmother who’s too old to work. A redistributionist safety net is a service to you as much as it is to current recipients. Or are you so wealthy that you know deep down you will never fail, as this is a market that protects wealth where it is? I doubt that’s the case, which is the sick part of it. You want a less secure society, fine. Sell it. Don’t lecture the world about how it’s the only acceptable alternative.

                    1. We must be using different definitions of redistribution. In the context of this conversation, I define redistribution as the forceful taking of someone’s resources to provide goods and services for another. This may be accomplished with taxes, or not. I do not consider a tax legitimate only if it does not satisfy this definition, and taxes to support these services to not constitute redistribution, any more than buying home insurance I never use constitutes redistribution.

                      However, not all people agree that having police, concepts of crime, and systems for settling disputes (i.e., courts) requires either taxes or redistribution. Also, many people do not assume that such a system would require poor people to have no access to courts or punishment.

                      In fact, the system we have now often forces poor people to pay for fire protection through sales taxes, even though they have no property to protect from fire. They also pay for police protection, regardless of the level of protection they get, or the value of the assets that they require protecting. Is this more just?

                      I reject the notion that I am not against redistribution. I am just against redistribution as you define it, which I disagree with.

                      Do you see yourself as fighting the status quo, in your support of a powerful state that uses threats of force to obtain the property of others, to spend as bureaucrats and politicians see fit?

      2. Except that real libertarianism would necessarily create a state of anarchy if it was followed.

        Most of the people that call themselves libertarians really don’t believe in true libertarianism. They are basically what used to be called fiscally conservative and socially liberal. They’ve just coopted the term libertarian because they don’t understand what it actually means.

    6. The only way someone could register your e-mail is if they had access to your e-mail. Maybe you should have a sit down with the voices in your head and find out which one did it.

    7. Someone also registered my email address, so fuck you all.

      How did they do that? Hacked your email account, too, so they could get a hold of the registration verification link?

    8. Now that’s comedy. Way better than the Carlin quote above. Registering Tony’s email address. Dam this site has the smartest mofo’s anywhere

  22. One of the biggest problems between science and religion is that the scientific community is trying to become the moral arbitor of what is or isn’t moral, essentially usurping religions moral authority. so how does Religion get back at Science by trying to disprove their theories.So if scientist would stop trying to be moral judges and leave that to the church there might peace in the land, of course the church need to stay out of science as well.

    1. This is just a BS comment. Religious people get all pissy at science because it has, time and time again, revealed that the factual claims made about the world by religious texts and dogma are the crapola that they are. That’s why teaching evolution is controversial in schools.

      1. Yep, only religious people get pissy at their children being taught things that they don’t like.

    2. I disagree. Scientists don’t do that because scientists know that what they know is always provisional and not absolute. Frauds that seek the imprimatur of scientific authority do.

      1. In other words, no true Scotsman…

        1. Nah, there are plenty of scientists that aren’t interested at all in morality/power. There are also plenty of scientific phonies that are grossly interested with morality/power. There is also an overlap, but I think it much less significant than argued.

  23. There are certainly people on all sides of every issue that aren’t at all interested in science or any sort of facts for that matter.

    This article is rather obtuse though. It’s presenting things that are in no way shape or form even remotely approaching being established scientific fact and attempting to claim that not agreeing with those ideas is ludicrous.

    As far as the big bang goes it doesn’t even qualify scientifically as a theory let alone a known fact. At best it can be described as an educated guess. I’m an atheist myself so I don’t entertain any notions of a creator, but trying to claim the big bang is an established and proven law of science is assinine on it’s face.

    I’d also like to see this “mounting evidence” of man made global warming. The only evidence I’ve seen in support of it to this point is doctored studies using either entirely fabricated or cherry picked data presented in a misleading fashion. And they are all funded by government and green energy conglomerates throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at them.

    The only research I’ve seen done by people with no obvious bias and not being funded by people and businesses that clearly have a vested interest in finding data to support their position have found the situation to be greatly exaggerated at best.

    1. How does the Big Bang not qualify as a theory? It is entirely consistent with every single test we know of. The cosmic microwave background. The distribution of different types of atoms in the universe. Etc etc etc. All evidence so far agrees with the Big Bang Theory. Which holds that, billions of years ago, all matter in the universe existed as a super dense, super hot, super small ball and exploded outward.

      1. I want to take this opportunity to rant a bit. Why should we believe in what experimental observation tells us? Well, because we have no better way of doing things. According to our senses and augmentation thereof (which means large observational telescopes, etc), the Big Bang is the most likely explanation for the basic structure of the universe today.

        Could all of the observations be misleading us? Sure. Maybe we’re being fed a stream of false data by something. Could be a more intelligent race. Maybe our Creator himself is deceiving us with false info. But even if that is the case, what’s a better way of obtaining information about our universe? Through a God who is deceiving us? The only rational choice we have is to believe what we see and hear and observe with complex scientific apparatuses.

  24. Aren’t we calling it ACC now? Climate Change, not Global Warming. GW only works if the climate warms, CC works no matter what – even if the climate stays the same that is a change from how climate has always worked.

    Isn’t the reason global warming predictions from 10 years ago have not panned out is because the dirty Chinese power plants spewing tons of particulate sulphur into the atmosphere screwed up the equation?

    Yet the environmentalists demand the Chinese clean up their act and stop spewing all that particulate matter into the air instead of calling for everybody else to stop filtering their power plant emissions and start spewing more particulates.

    It’s as if they insist on perfection and reject the idea we humans have to make tradeoffs. DDT or malaria? Can we strike a balance? Nope. Good enough isn’t good enough.

  25. This still doesn’t explain how both groups got taken in by the second-hand smoke bullshit.

    1. Second hand smoke IS dangerous. You should really finish the cigarette in your first hand before lighting up a second.

      It’s our innate ability to trust that creates these situations. So ultimately it’s either the fault of mighty evolution or super god magic.

  26. If the case against conservatives on science is based on two pillars, one of which is the failure to accept hysterical alarmism on anthropogenic global warming, then I think I’d rather take my chances with the ostensibly anti-science fundamentalists. On AWG they are right to be skeptical, and on evolution, their views really don’t matter. No ones failure to accept that humans and primates share a common ancestor ever impeded my personal wellbeing, economically disadvantaged me, created a layer of petty bureaucracy, or launched an international summit of money-sucking regulators. It also doesn’t really have any bearing on the “sound science” undergirding the modern regulatory regime. Believing that Noah repopulated the earth after a great flood only 4,000 years ago doesn’t seem like it would have that terribly much influence one way or another on deciding things like, say, how drugs should be tested before they are brought to market, or whether pesticides pose a public health risk, or whether fracking for natural gas will cause the eastern seaboard to fall into the ocean after a series of catastrophic earthquakes. Even if conservatives were as scientifically ignorant as they are accused of being, I’ll take ignorant over malevolent any day of the week.

    1. You don’t think a group of people’s failure to acknowledge basic scientific fact might reflect on their ability to make good policy?

      But you have demonstrated that you feel you are entitled to imagine scientific findings as a malevolent conspiracy. You are those people. The level of evidence for the basic claims of climate science is no more in dispute than that for evolution. You are just misinformed about that.

      1. Should we go with the scientists 30 years ago that said we were cooling, or go with the current ones that believe in anthropogenic global warming (I am sorry, I mean climate change)?

        1. You know your right-wing talking points; why not apply that ability to absorb information to reliable sources?

      2. And I think that the neo-Keynesians inability to acknowledge basic economic fact means they can’t make good policy. Fair’s fair, Tony.

  27. to imagine scientific findings as a malevolent conspiracy

    What “scientific findings”? The malevolent conspiracy is exactly about manufacturing “scientific findings” and as such “scientific consensus”.

  28. Calling Summers’s comments about women in math a scientific hypothesis might be a stretch. A good hypothesis needs sound reasoning based on the current body of related science behind it. The reasoning doesn’t prove the hypothesis true, but
    1) It provides the rationale for performing the necessary experiments and/or data analysis
    2) Going back to the previous article on cancer research, it means the experiment can provide valuable insight even if the results are not consistent with the hypothesis. That points to something being wrong with the reasoning.

  29. Don;t forget DDT. I am sure the mosquito nets are just as effective at preventing malaria.

  30. The political corruption of science areas to promote agenda should be the main focus here. The climate scam being a case in point.

    The writer is clinging to a orthodox of unquestioning authority for largely a hack science cast system where government funded authority sits at the top of the pyramid.

  31. “You can’t swing a dead cat by the tail these days without hitting a liberal who thinks conservatives don’t believe in science.”

    It’s true. I tested this claim, much to Fluffy’s chagrin, and my liberal girlfriend got a mouthful of fur.

  32. Grrr. Seeking wholesale counter hypotheses to answer the “question” of whether species evolve is not something pretty much any scientist would bother with, without religious preconceptions. Global warming is different. To argue that the earth continues to warm because of the man-made contribution to CO2 emissions and that this warming represents an existential threat warranting radical regulatory intervention is a longshot serial argument that should make any good scientist cringe, given the inherent uncertainty of extrapolating climate data sets into the future. You’ve got the religious association exactly backwards. Radical environmentalism is desired action looking for supporting evidence…every bit as religious as creationism.

    1. Ahh, but you’re trying to detach the science from the policy. Leftist fundies hate that. See eugenics.

  33. Technically speaking, the Big Bang is a “theory”. So is evolution, germ theory, atomic theory. Plus we don’t really know what gravity “is”. The word “theory” seems to have picked up a different definition among the general population compared to scientists.

  34. The author is quite careless with facts.

    “Half of those who self-identify as tea partiers do not believe in global warming.” Actually, they don’t believe that burning fossil fuels is the cause; that the rate of warming is catastrophic; or that ending fossil fuels will be worth the cost. Or all three.

    “half of tea partiers don’t believe in evolution”. Actually they accept the scientific facts for evolution of the kind “this organism evolves over time into that organism”. It is the kind “this mud puddle evolves over time into a living organism” that they are skeptical about. And with good reason. The descent of man from apes is quite different from the descent of man from mud.

    The author’s bias is evident in the fact that all his examples distort conservative positions and then ridicule them. Hansen suffered no suppression. The Big Bang Theory has always been called the Big Bang Theory.

    How about ridiculing the fabrication and outright falsification of “data” supporting Global Warming? Or the suppression of skeptics and their research grants? Or the substitution of self-serving and secret computer models for actual science?

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