Evolution

I Don't Care Whether the President Believes in Evolution and Neither Should You

How is this question related to actual federal policy?

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Is this what you want for your children? Well? IS IT?
Marvel

This is how independent policy institute Chatham House describes what it does in its own "About Us" section:

Chatham House carries out independent and rigorous analysis of critical global, regional and country-specific challenges and opportunities. It consistently ranks highly in the University of Pennsylvania's annual Global Go To Think Tank Index, where it has been assessed by its peers as the No. 1 think tank outside the US for seven consecutive years and No. 2 worldwide for the past four years. 

The institute's award-winning reports, papers, books and other research outputs are a vital resource for leaders and policy-makers in government, the private sector and civil society. International Affairs, Britain's leading journal of international relations, was founded by and is edited at the institute. The institute's magazine, The World Today, provides authoritative analysis and up-to-date commentary on current topics. The Chatham House library has one of the longest-standing specialist collections of material on international affairs in the United Kingdom. The collections are digitally archived and searchable.

So when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, headed over to London to talk trade, obviously the thing to do is to ask him whether he believe in the theory of evolution. From Reuters:

"That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other," Walker said during a question-and-answer session at Chatham House, a London think tank.

Walker is visiting the United Kingdom this week to promote trade with his Midwestern state. The trip also could burnish his international resume in the early stages of the 2016 presidential race. …

"I'm here to talk about trade, not to pontificate," he said. "I love the evolution of trade in Wisconsin."

I'm sure some science-minded libertarians and conservatives would have just preferred he gave a simple "yes" to avoid exactly this kind of story that completely ignores anything Walker may have actually said about trade. Now the story is this silly nonsense that has zero impact about any sort of pending or potential federal policy. Reuters attempts to tie it to both public opinion polls about support for the theory evolution (has anybody ever voted for a president on the basis of his opinion on the theory of evolution?) and recent controversies about science and vaccinations. At least there are genuine policies connected to vaccinations at play (which, nevertheless, have nothing to do with the president).

So after one of the best think tanks in the world asks this pointless question, Reuters takes it even further and lets a Democratic functionary get a dig in as some sort of mandated balance:

In a statement, Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Holly Shulman said, "All Walker showed today was the same ducking and dodging Wisconsinites know all too well, and that we've come to expect from the 2016 GOP field, whose policy positions are just too divisive to share."

What "policy positions" are there connected to Walker's attitude toward evolution? Is he going to launch the sentinel project and try to hunt down the X-Men? Yes, I know, there's this fear that a Republican presidential administration will go mucking around with federal education standards. Well, news flash: We're going to have a Republican president again someday, no matter how much some may loathe the idea. Rather than worrying about how a president's personal scientific beliefs may influence government policy, let's divorce those policies from the government in places where they are unnecessary. You know what will help: school choice. Rather than worrying about what the president believes, let parents find schools that share their educational outlooks.

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  1. I absolutely disagree. Not answering the question means he’s pandering to idiots, which is relevant. Actually not believing in evolution means he’s an idiot, which is even more relevant.

    1. Re: Tony,

      I absolutely disagree. Not answering the question means he’s pandering to idiots

      The only ones concerned so far are those in the DNC and Reuters. Do you mean those idiots?

      1. Then why couldn’t he simply have said yes?

        1. Re: Tony,

          Then why couldn’t he simply have said yes?

          You mean you want a purity test?

          1. Yes, I will never vote for a politician who doesn’t believe in evolution. I require a certain level of general intelligence in them. And I think one of the biggest threats to this country and hence the planet is the fact that we tend to elect people because they are morons, at least in one political party. It’s very relevant.

            1. So if they believe that God designed and created living things, you won’t vote for them.

              But if they believe that God designed and created EVERYTHING, then that’s OK.

              Got it.

              1. I vote for people who I’m pretty sure don’t believe in god, when given a choice in the matter.

                1. Oh, bullshit.

                  I wonder what evidence could possibly convince you that your preferred candidates do really believe in God, if you really want to believe otherwise. Apparently attending church doesn’t count, nor does attending a prayer breakfast, nor does actual professed belief.

                  Maybe Walker does believe in evolution, but doesn’t want to alienate those who don’t… just like you assume that Obama doesn’t believe in God but he doesn’t want to alienate those who do. But Walker’s not on your team, so the same rules don’t apply.

                2. I vote for people who I’m pretty sure don’t believe in god, when given a choice in the matter.

                  So you vote for them when they lie about believing in god? To pander to idiots?

              1. Tony and those like him are too self centered and cocky allow questioning of their favorite “theories” that they portray as facts.

                And yes Tony, I know damn well what a scientific theory is….

                1. Tony claims to like science, but wave a copy of The Bell Curve at him and I’ll bet he’d react like a vampire to garlic.

              2. The only spontaneous combustion that I believe in comes out of one, but probably more, of tony’s orifices

        2. Would you have voted for him if he had? No? Then why the fuck should he sacrifice votes (even idiots’ votes) to satisfy your fancies?

          You were here yesterday telling us all about how it was perfectly okay for a politician to lie about policy to get in office. Now, we’re supposed to be hugely upset that a different politician gave an evasive answer about something that has, at best, a tangental relationship to policy?

          I guess, with you, it really is about principals rather than principles.

          1. I think it’s relevant whether an aspirant to the presidency believes in heliocentrism as well. I’m just talking about general intelligence. I don’t make exceptions for the hobbyhorses of the religious.

            1. And I’m sure Gov. Walker is just hugely concerned with your opinion of him. Why, if he doesn’t get the leftist sock-puppet vote, his political future is doomed.

          2. Zing. Well done, Bill.

    2. I agree that not believing in evolution makes you an idiot, but not believing in supply and demand curves is just as stupid.

      Given Tony’s continual support for what I call ‘economics deniers,’ he doesn’t have much standing to criticize anyone else for science denial.

      1. Ah, one is a little more settled than the other.

        1. It’s true. Supply and demand is pretty hard science, where as the existence of a god (and hence whatever hand they had in the creation of life) is non-falsifiable, and is therefor outside the realm of science and not really settle-able.

          1. “Evolution” and “creation of life” are two very different things. The latter is called abiogenesis.

      2. I think the term “economics deniers” needs to be used much, much more often.

      3. protein content of ALL known ribosomes.
        horizontal gene transfer.
        Classical evolutionary theory has some serious problems.

    3. Not answering the question means he’s pandering to idiots

      And so long as he’s not an idiot, who cares?

      Also, weren’t you the one telling us what a good thing Obama’s, ahem, pandering to black churches RE: gay marriage was? I don’t really know (or care) whether or not you think black Christians are stupid, but they’re certainly evil in your book — and I don’t see how pandering to evil is any better than pandering to stupid.

    4. Democrats like you not believing in the LAW of supply and demand is the most idiotic. It’s not a theory. Not a guideline. Supply and demand is a proven law cuz it is true all the time.

    5. Not saying something is pandering? Then what was the person who asked it doing?

  2. There’s a reason the media always flogs the KULTUR WAR shit, and it’s not just because it’s red meat for the TEAM morons and therefore gets tons of page hits. It’s because it keeps people from actually hearing or thinking about anything else and gets them to just fall back on the KULTUR WAR and TEAM biases and bullshit.

    KULTUR WAR is endlessly useful to politicians.

    1. The top commented articles on Reason are generally KULTUR WAR…so I guess even libertarians are susceptible.

      1. And they’re useful to see what pandering valueless dipshits our politicians are… “Yes, I hold degree from a top private university, but I do feel that the verdict on evolution is still out”.

        1. Walker doesn’t hold a degree from any university. He’s less educated than Sarah Palin!

          The progs must not be circulating the talking points yet.

          1. Nicolas Tesla never went to a university either. Moreover many people with esoteric degrees in fields like arabian literature, puppetry and queer studies from prestigious universities collect food stamps. Credentials ain’t ability .

    2. KULTUR WAR is endlessly useful to politicians.

      In the endless war of Elephonesia versus Jackassia, Chatham House are good little Airstrip One bitches.

  3. So after one of the best think tanks in the world…

    Honestly, after they question the guy on a trade mission about his views on evolution, I have to take this assertion with a grain of salt.

  4. What “policy positions” are there connected to Walker’s attitude toward evolution?

    According to Erik Nisbet, associate professor of communication and political science at The Ohio State University, “Climate change and evolution are much bigger issues in the media and political discourse than are fracking and nuclear power”

    Which means that there has to be a very important policy position that relates to a politician’s belief in evolution, if associate professors of communication and political science believe there is one.

    Or, more likely, the whole thing is just another pile of distracting dung laid on our path by partisan hacks who couldn’t really care less about people’s belief in evolution.

    1. I can think of one: whether children are taught science in science class, or something else.

      1. Re: Tony,

        I can think of one: whether children are taught science in science class[…]

        They aren’t. They are taught facts, but not science. Knowing the distinction is important.

        Also, why are you concerned about what is being taught to kids? When you have your own, be concerned about them, not mine.

        1. Hmmmm…Republicans tend to support vouchers and school choice in general, and they don’t demand to micromanage the curricula – I have never heard of a single instance where a Republican wants to close a charter school, or pull the funding of a voucher school, because they’re teachign evolution as true.

          So what were you saying, again?

        2. We need to get rid of all white people. That’s science! And if you don’t agree, my master will attack you with cruise missles, and I have pictures to prove it!

          /Tony the rocket surgeon

        3. I certainly hope they’re being taught science in science class.

          It is certainly other people’s business what unrelated kids are being taught. Those kids will grow up to be functioning members of society. I prefer to live in a society not full of naive stupid people.

          1. Wow Tony, I didn’t know you supported the voucher system. Guess hanging around us has done you some good, we will make a libertarian of you yet.

          2. I prefer to live in a society not full of naive stupid people.

            Irony meter is pegged.

          3. I prefer to live in a society not full of naive stupid people

            Well, you’re too late, there are a lot more of you out there, thanks to public schools who care more about leftist indoctrination than education.

          4. Re: Tony,

            I certainly hope they’re being taught science in science class.

            They’re not. That is not what school is for. They’re taught facts based on scientific findings, but not science.

            It is certainly other people’s business what unrelated kids are being taught. Those kids will grow up to be functioning members of society.

            One thing does not justify the other, Tony. Education is a personal choice. You can’t coerce a person into knowing things if the person is unwilling, thus the failure of public schools.

            I prefer to live in a society not full of naive stupid people.

            You’re out of luck. Those people voted for Obama – twice.

          5. I’m still in college and the only thing Im learning is that it costs a fuck load of money to teach myself. I love ASU but damn I’d love it so much more if it were private. If those kind of schools are even out there. Thank you to the education subsidies provided by Tony’s left.

          6. I prefer to live in a society not full of naive stupid people.

            Then holy shit do you live on the wrong planet.

          7. Well, given that over 80 percent of Americans support “mandatory labels on foods containing DNA” … the naive stupid ship has sailed.

            I’m guessing that this figure is directly related to leftist pearl clutching about GMOs.

            Reap, sow.

            I’m certain that you, in fact DO prefer to live in a society full of naive stupid people. After all, it should help your collectivist objectives immensely.

        4. They aren’t. They are taught facts, but not science. Knowing the distinction is important.

          Agreed. Until I had children IDK that I would’ve understood or agreed. Having three and having worked in the sciences, I would go even further; they teach overwhelmingly facts and later, occasionally, the idea(l)(s) of science.

          Rarely are both taught, seldom are they distinguished, and certainly not in any respect reflects the reality of science today.

          I suffer no delusions about the situation either; it’s not the sort of thing that can be compressed into a lesson plan and standardized for testing.

      2. And as I tell all the non-hard science majors in my family. Evolution doesn’t matter to anything but one tiny field in science. Engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and chemists don’t every touch anywhere close to the subjects covered by evolution. Even in the fields where it matters, the majority of time a belief in intelligent design is enough to get past any hurdles not believing in evolution might make to good science.

        It’s just not that important of a subject. People graduating college and high school without understanding statistics is ten times more detrimental to our nations scientific literacy than evolution.

        1. Engineers, physicists, mathematicians, and chemists

          That’s not science!

          /Tony the rocket surgeon

        2. If we can’t find time to teach people evolution by the time they graduate high school then we’re wasting it somewhere else. It may be relevant to the professions of a small number of people, but it is central to a basic understanding of biology, and hence is important to an accurate approach to humanity’s place in the universe. It is relevant in many disciplines of study, and I could even conjure a plausible connection to engineering, though it was the engineering school where all the creationists seem to congregate.

          And when people graduate college, they’re going to get a job that uses 5% of what they learned in school. Is it also a predilection of math geek types that people need not be well-rounded in their educations?

          1. Re: Tony,

            If we can’t find time to teach people evolution by the time they graduate high school then we’re wasting it somewhere else.

            What’s with this we business, Kemosabe?

            Plenty of highly-acclaimed scientists and academics graduated from college without having learned about evolution, so I don’t understand your urgency. It sounds more like a bromide than a true concern.

            it is central to a basic understanding of biology, and hence is important to an accurate approach to humanity’s place in the universe.

            That’s preposterous. It matters NOT the origin of man when it comes to our place in the universe. Whether we were created or evolved, the fact is that we’re here, we each have a mind and are aware. What difference does it make?

            Or is your intention to DIMINISH our role in the universe in order to justify collectivist policies? Because I think that is what you have in mind.

            1. –” graduated from college “–

              And I mean in the past, before Natural Selection became popular.

            2. My high school biology teacher was a no shit creationist so we didn’t touch on evolution. I didn’t learn much biology either. But I turned out fine. And of course species evolve.

          2. but it is central to a basic understanding of biology

            So central to the field that huge fields of sections of biology developed prior to and/or independent of it.

            Medicine, disease, microbiology, epidemiology, genetics, anatomy, physiology, breeding and reproduction, ecology… were all founded, studied, and had rooted the fundamentals of our modern understanding well before Darwin put pen to paper. Let alone the more than half-century that passed before Darwin’s hypotheses were subsumed into biology at large.

            1. Sorry, but evolution is central to all of that and essential to understanding it also.

          3. It may be relevant to the professions of a small number of people, but it is central to a basic understanding of biology, and hence is important to an accurate approach to humanity’s place in the universe.

            I didn’t know you were so spiritual, Tony.

            It’s like, people need to comprehend their place in the universe, you know? And how can an engineer really build a good bridge if he’s not in tune with his natural self? Can an astronomer really observe the stars if he’s not cognizant of his relationship to them?

            Let engineers, or chemists, or even doctors believe in ID. Who cares. Maybe a few who are taught creationism will actually go into biology and try to “prove” ID, and they’ll be swiftly demolished. Everyone will always believe stupid-but-useless shit.

          4. Tony, you profess to know humanity’s place in the universe?!

          5. “…and hence is important to an accurate approach to humanity’s place in the universe.”

            And there is what is important, that everyone’s children are exposed to metaphysics he approves of.

          6. an accurate approach to humanity’s place in the universe.

            Nothing screams science like anthropocentric nonsense about ‘humanity’s place in the universe’.

            You want humanity’s place in the universe in the context of science? Earth, Sol System, Local Interstellar Cloud, Local Bubble, Orion?Cygnus Arm, Milky Way.

        3. Evolution doesn’t matter to anything but one tiny field in science.

          I didn’t realize that the whole of biology was a tiny field in science.

          1. Biology = evolution? Really? Someone is seriously over inflating the value of the theory of evolution, or seriously diminishing the field of biology.

            1. The entire science of biology depends on evolution. It is the central theme of biology. Nothing in biology makes sense without it.

              1. Then how did people understand so much about living things before? Every living thing could’ve originated 10 min. ago, and it wouldn’t change how the parts work. Trust me, I’m a Ph.D. biochemist and I used to teach courses in evolution.

                1. Every living thing could’ve originated 10 min. ago

                  According to relativity, this could literally be true for some observers, depending on their frame of reference.

                2. Congratulations on your appeal to your own authority. You should become friends with Edward Schumacher-Matos.

      3. How about the far more important issue of basic economics, such as supply and demand? Obama has already come out in favor of minimum wage laws, contrary to economics 101.

        Huh, Tony? Would you, did you, vote for an economically illiterate candidate?

        Or GMOs — the science is far more settled there than with global warming.

        Ditto for fracking.

        All three of these are far more susceptible to presidential whim than evolution vs creationism. Yet you prefer to judge someone on the useless factor which your fellow supports rather than the three important fators where he is in denial of settled science.

      4. I can think of one: whether children are taught science in science class, or something else.

        I’m sure Tony would be totally on-board with teaching biological science, right? Like the fact that men and women are (on average) biologically, and hormonally, and psychologically different, and that thus their career aptitudes and preferences will never be 50/50, and thus statistical differences in wages and boardroom representation and such are likely due to something other than discrimination.

        That’s the science, Tony. Are you OK with teaching that?

  5. The nice thing about science is that it’s true whether you believe in it or not. It’s the so-called disciplines that can’t tolerate skepticism have something wrong with them.

  6. the unsuccessful lesson of human rights http://waltherpragerandphiloso…..ights.html

  7. Is there a single left wing position, other than teaching evolution, based on the presumption that evolution happened or is happening?

    1. Well, there’s the part where they say there are inherent differences between men and women…oh, wait…

      1. Yeah, (a) evolution should be taught in schools, but (b) evolution produces sexist results which should *never be mentioned unless you want to have your career destroyed!*

        1. Right. They’ve sacrilized the non-existence of evolution and the teaching of evolution. It’s bizarre.

    2. That Republicans are Social Darwinists?

  8. If you believe anything a presidential candidate says about what he or she believes, you’re even dumber than the people they’re trying to pander to.

    1. DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER

  9. Tony the rocket surgeon is here to splain science to us, everything is good.

    1. I can’t wait for Tony to tell me all about the consensus of settled science.

      1. Well, you’ll have to wait on that. Tony just stepped out to shoot the three Muslims in the parking lot in the name of atheism and freethought.

        1. Well, they were white, we have to get rid of all white people, and he got tired of waiting on those cruise missile strikes.

            1. Kemosabe speak with fork tongue, beg forgiveness, Tonto. Offer you Lizzie White Squaw for sacrifice.

  10. Yeah, is this even an issue anymore? No one has seriously considered this issue since the 2005 decision in Pennsylvania.

  11. So back in the day there was this other presidential candidate who was asked a similar question in a much more appropriate forum, and his answer predictably caused the left to spout fits of outrage!

    1. He’s evolved, lol.

    2. Ha, he didn’t even bother to take the obvious out of distinguishing between when human life begins and where human *rights* begin – he couldn’t even commit on whether an early-stage human being is (a) human and (b) alive.

      1. Wait, that’s not it, he said that commenting on when human rights begin is beyond his pay grade.

        So I suppose he wouldn’t object to this clause of the Virginia Declaration of Rights: “That all men are by nature equally free and independent and have certain inherent rights, of which, *when they enter into a state of society,* they cannot, by any compact, deprive or divest their posterity”

        The phrase about “enter into a state of society” was of course designed to preclude the possibility that slaves might have human rights. The majority has to admit you to the status of rights-bearing human being before you can claim any rights at all!

        And it’s beyond anyone’s pay grade to say if slaves have rights!

        http://www.archives.gov/exhibi…..ights.html

  12. Doesn’t the president’s disbelief in provable scientific facts reflect badly on his overall intelligence?

    1. I would say no. Honestly, given these guys are politicians, I’d say any of their beliefs or disbeliefs is genuinely indeterminate from anything they say or don’t say. Because their revealed beliefs, when acting as a politician, can best be assumed to be a political calculation.

      1. I think we would be stunned at the intellectual infirmities of most politicians, including–maybe even especially–those who are generally viewed as “intelligent.” Not just with politically charged areas like the climate or theism, but in economics, general science, technology, history, the whole works.

        1. I think we would be stunned at the intellectual infirmities of most politicians,

          But that’s just my point, who the hell knows if they’re infirmities or just opinions they’re claiming as part of a political strategy? If transvestitism were to become a popular phenomenon, the number of politicians revealing their lifelong preference for pumps and miniskirts.

        2. + a capsized Guam

    2. provable scientific facts

      -1 Popper.

    3. 1) Is it intelligence or knowledge?

      2) I’d be more interested in his reasons than just his yes/no answer. His reasoning would give me some small insight into how his thinking works (and perhaps his intelligence).

      As an atheist, I’d be fine if he said, “Well the Bible seems to contradict evolution, so no. My faith is in God, and I believe He created us in the Garden.” OK, whatever. But if he said he believes in ID, and tried explaining why it was obviously right and scientifically sound, I’d start to worry. If he started talking about a scientific conspiracy, I’d wonder if he has a conspiratorial or paranoid mind, which is not a quality I’d want in a president. Etc.

  13. His answer was correct. The only better answer would have been, “If you have questions about biology, we have a fine university in Wisconsin with a lot of them on the faculty. I suggest you ask them those questions and ask me about public policy.”

    1. Badly written. Substitute “we have a fine university in Wisconsin with a lot of biologists and paleontologists on the faculty.”

  14. Why are they wasting time on this question instead of asking what everyone really wants to know: “Boxers or Briefs?”

  15. Shorter Democrat talking point: “OK, it seems his stance against public-sector unions is popular, so let’s conern-troll about evolution instead!”

    How about this: Walker could say, “I believe that the public-sector unions have evolved a parasitic relationship with their host, the taxpayers, but I am trying to evolve a response in the form of kicking their ass – in a strictly Darwinian manner, of course.”

  16. I’m not going to pretend that a candidate’s position on evolution doesn’t affect my opinion of him, as I would generally prefer a scientifically literate candidate, but, in my view of the federal system, that should be mostly irrelevant. If I have a choice between a Creationist who is totally for limited government, civil liberties, and free markets, and a statist fuck who accepts the overwhelming evidence for evolution, I’m voting for the Creationist every single time.

    1. If I have a choice between a Creationist who is totally for limited government, civil liberties, and free markets, and a statist fuck who accepts the overwhelming evidence for evolution, I’m voting for the Creationist every single time.

      Count me as a vote on this. There are legitimate concerns with regard to Scott Walker. His opinion of evolution isn’t one of them. I will note though, that too often “scientifically literate”, at least in the popular culture, translates as “accepting whatever the nice man in the white lab coat tells them as a matter of faith”.

    2. That’s sort of how I felt about Ron Paul.

  17. I’m sure some science-minded libertarians and conservatives would have just preferred he gave a simple “yes” to avoid exactly this kind of story that completely ignores anything Walker may have actually said about trade. Now the story is this silly nonsense that has zero impact about any sort of pending or potential federal policy.

    That’s where you are dead wrong, Scott “Love Shack” Shackford. Skepticism of evolution is reflective of a disbelief in spontaneous order. Spontaneous order is the sine qua non of the free market. Anyone who considers themselves an advocate of Austrian economics, and the worldview it entails, should be concerned by Walker’s answer.

  18. I insist that my politicians to have completely correct and up-to-date knowledge regarding the theory of evolution, even if it has fuck-all to do with their jobs. Naturally.

    On a related note, I would never hire an auto mechanic who lacks a proper education in the latest archaeological evidence on early Christian burial practices. Naturally.

    Because knowledge is fungible and a deficit of it in one category implies deficiency in the others, given that we all have infinite time and interest in all subjects of human inquiry. Naturally.

    1. This is a bad comparison imo, because we’re talking about two different types of jobs.

      It’s like saying you’re not bothered that your day laborer thinks the earth is flat and the moon landing was faked is the same as you’re not bothered by the same in your stockbroker or CEO.

      1. I’m not bothered by either scenario. Neither job requires such knowledge and the question reveals regional sociopolitical and group membership more than anything else. Mormons believe all kinds of crazy shit and it hasn’t seemed to really stop them from doing well in business; ditto Seventh-day Adventists.

        Why is Evolution so special?

        1. Really, believing the moon landing was faked reveals regional and group membership more than anything else?

  19. A part of me is inclined to agree with Tony on this one . . . I would be at least somewhat concerned if the President genuinely did not believe in evolution. Not because that belief has any bearing on any specific federal policy, but because it indicates a fragile intellect that may not be prepared to handle the rigors of the job.
    But how does one divine the true beliefs of a politician anyways? As Another David said above, believing what Scott Walker or any other pol has to say about any issue is unadulterated foolishness. They have a base to play to, and they do it. Chances are, the majority of conservative pols who thump the Bible think some or all of it is garbage. All Hail Gorthan!

    1. What if the president said he doesn’t believe that man made climate change is a settled fact?

      1. That strikes me as less bad because man made climate change is a relatively recent ‘consensus,’ evolution is not.

        1. Well, I’m trying to get where this poster is coming from, Bo. Is that too subtle for you?

      2. That’s a great question. A president who said that has a 99.9% chance of being Republican. Given what I said above about being unable to discern what a pol really believes, I would assume he or she was throwing red meat to the base of the party. Having said that, I would have less of a problem with it because evolution is a proven phenomena while AGW isn’t.

    2. Chances are, the majority of conservative pols who thump the Bible think some or all of it is garbage.

      Barack Obama ‘decided’ one day to go get a religion, and he picked up a militant, urban brand of Christian.

      I’m sure the choice had nothing to do with the political base Obama was then trying to cultivate, or the fact in a lot of inner cities the only legal social locus with any moral authority or respect is the local church.

      And that really makes Barack Obama special. Obama professes belief in global warming. Obama professes belief in the divinity of Christ. Obama believes, at the same time, Neil deGrasse Tyson and dear Reverend Wright.

      Obama believes everything. Truly a genius of the age.

  20. I realize Walker is making the conservatives knees weak lately, but some aspects of the job of being the executive of our nation will involve intelligence and competence, and perhaps some humility in the face of expertise, apart from ideological choices. To that extent these kind of questions do make some sense.

    And regardless of all that, that was a particularly spineless, stupid non-answer.

    1. Spineless nonanswers are precisely what almost all of the candidates on both sides will give us on questions they can’t answer in a way to please most voters.

      One reason I like Paul is that he doesn’t do this much, even though he’s obviously trying to plot a middle course.

      1. What’s particularly troubling to me is that there is a world of vague cop outs he could have turned to if he was really just fearful of alienating part of his potential base, ones that wouldn’t have come off as stupid. Just give some limp intelligent design-y type answer.

        1. And regardless of all that, that was a particularly spineless, stupid non-answer.

          Why is it spineless or stupid to not answer questions irrelevant to the context of what he was there to speak about? It’s entirely possible the guy thinks “intelligent design” is a joke and doesn’t want to endorse it.

          1. “Why is it spineless or stupid to not answer questions irrelevant to the context of what he was there to speak about?”

            Because it was directly and publicly asked of him? I mean, it took as much time for him to dodge it as answer it.

            1. Because it was directly and publicly asked of him? I mean, it took as much time for him to dodge it as answer it.

              Bo, which do you prefer, beating your gf or your mother?

              This has been directly and publicly asked, so answer it directly.

              You are a fool.

      2. Paul panders too much to SoCons. It grates on my nerves, but I’ve come to accept it. It leads a lot of people to believe that he is not a libertarian. I think that is wrong, Paul is pretty libertarian, but he’s a little more politically savvy than his pop, and he’s convinced, maybe correctly, that he needs the SoCons to get the nomination.

        If he gets the nomination, look for his rhetoric to slide a little more towards the libertarians perspective, when he will need more ‘social liberal’ votes to win the general.

        1. I wholeheartedly agree with this. Paul is simply playing the game. Sadly, Jeb Bush has already bought the nomination.

          1. If Jeb gets the nomination, I guess Hillary can come out of her room and quit pouting over the fact that everyone may not believe that she’s ‘inevitable’.

            I think that’s all a matter of association. Who will people associate Jeb with? His brother, of course. Who will they associate Hillary with? Her husband, of course.

            I don’t think there’s any need to debate who’s more popular between George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

            There’s a reason why they call the GOP the Stupid Party.

            And, for what it’s worth, I think Rand would beat Hillary, easily.

            1. Agree with most of this. I don’t think Rand beats Hillary that easily. She’ll have almost the whole of national media actively working on her behalf. Plus Rand is bound to have that foot-in-the-mouth moment that the Clinton Machine(which includes the media)will pounce upon. They’ll use any angle to paint Rand as looney tunes . . . from his father, to his “Audit The Fed” bill, to Aqua Buddha.

              1. Paul manages to get nominated and Clinton does, too (I actually think she won’t), then Paul will win easily. She isn’t popular and has absolutely nothing to offer the hoping for change crowd. Remember, if he’s the nominee, the party and the money will all go to him.

            2. “His brother? Who am I, chopped liver?”
              ? Geo. Bush Sr.

        2. SoCons sent Ron Paul back to Congress every two years.

        3. Paul panders too much to SoCons.

          He’s a half-hearted socon himself. At least when it comes to some things.

    2. How is standing up to a questioner’s stupid Q spineless or stupid? Would you call it spineless or stupid if he’d been asked about the efficacy of medical marijuana or vaccines, and he’d answered that the only matter relevant to his job would be whether they’re legally available?

    3. Spineless? No, it was politely giving the finger to a journalist asking a silly question. It is kind of refreshing to have a pol slap down that kind of impertinence.

  21. I don’t think that someone believing or not believing in evolution would affect my decision to vote for them or not.

    That’s just one small aspect of their person to consider.

    I myself believe in evolution, but I have some beliefs on the origin of the universe and life that some people might find strange. It’s something that I never stop thinking about.

    You have some scientists today who think that we could all be living in some type of simulation. Should we just discount them all as stupid?

    Let’s put this into context here. Let’s say a presidential candidate says he believes in a god creator. Ok, how many presidents have their been so far, that came right out and said, they not believe in a god? You get where I am going here? Where is the scientific proof of an invisible sky god that watches over us all? Yet if we say we have to totally discount everything about every person that believes in an invisible sky god, then we’ve suddenly relegated a majority of persons on earth to irrelevance.

    I know a guy, long time friend of mine, and very smart guy, who believes that the earth is only 6000 years old. I find it ridiculous to say the least, but the guy is still one of the most talented persons I’ve ever met.

    Discounting someone because they do not believe in evolution is stupid, in my opinion.

  22. To those who say that evolution is a proxy for intelligence I would suggest that a better proxy would be for the candidate to state the three best pieces of evidence for their point of view on the subject regardless of what it is. Affirming a statement of belief is fairly mindless — especially when the issue is more tied to cultural dynamics and regional sociopolitical rather than interacting with the evidence and arriving at a reasoned conclusion

    1. “Affirming a statement of belief is fairly mindless ”

      I realize we’d all like to be iconoclasts, but some deference to long standing scientific consensuses is probably, as a general and practical matter, a sign of intellectual acumen humility that might be an important part of an ideal character.

      1. “Ideal character” went out the window once we started dealing with human beings and politics. Even if it didn’t, since believing/disbelieving in evolution is costless it shows nothing about character or intellectual humility. In the context of US politics particularly, it’s mostly a stick to beat SoCons with.

        1. “since believing/disbelieving in evolution is costless it shows nothing about character or intellectual humility”

          Quite the reverse I should think. The only cost is to one who wants to hold on to pre-modern beliefs more than accept modernity.

      2. I realize we’d all like to be iconoclasts, but some deference to long standing scientific consensuses is probably, as a general and practical matter, a sign of intellectual acumen…

        A fine example of worshiping the man in the white lab coat I was talking about, earlier. Really, it takes no more, intellectual acumen to accept the word of a scientific consensus as the voice of God than it does to take the word of one’s priest, minister, rabbi, or whatever.

        1. Exactly. Once I actually heard someone say they believed in evolution because their parents did and that’s how they were raised.

        2. “Really, it takes no more, intellectual acumen to accept the word of a scientific consensus as the voice of God than it does to take the word of one’s priest, minister, rabbi, or whatever.”

          This is lunacy. According to your thinking there would be no such thing as an expert witness accepted in our courts.

          1. Bo, go easy on the credentialism as it is a sign of a lack of intellectual rigor.

          2. According to your thinking there would be no such thing as an expert witness accepted in our courts.

            Have you ever watched an expert witness work, Bo? I’ve worked for one. An expert witness who relies on “Trust me. I’m smarter than you” is going to completely, utterly, and totally fail as an expert witness. Every assertion they make, they support with evidence, logic and arguments, precisely the things you’re suggesting we can dispense with in accepting scientific consensus.

    2. “Yes, I support the concept of evolution.”

      “Excellent, now can you please explain your views on abiogenesis, particularly in regards to panspermia hypothesis and the Clay models?”

  23. Science DOES matter. It is the ONLY thing that matters. Trade cannot prevent plagues, or extinctions, etc.
    In this context, it was a silly question and off topic, yes.
    In reality, though, it does matter.
    “Are you a hysterical supernaturalist who beleives in a giant man in the sky, or do you follow the evidence of science?”
    is 100% a valid question, but again no tin this context.

    1. I’m going to make a slightly, or maybe more than slightly, different statement.

      Technology is all that matters. Technology is the only thing that has ever improved the condition of humankind and the only thing that ever will.

      1. ” Technology is the only thing that has ever improved the condition of humankind and the only thing that ever will.”

        I highly recommend you find (netflix has em) and watch all of James Burke’s “Connections” series (1978)

        (here’s one episode on Youtube – there may be more)

        the later 1980s ones kind of blow. Just watch all the first series.

        The issue is basically a full exploration of all the ways technology affects human history and vice versa.

        the short of it is that its not quite as simple as ‘technology’ by itself, but the way technologies emerge through different patterns of human behavior/evolving needs. One technology always changing patterns of behavior and subsequently begetting the next…

        Similar to this is the doco, “How Beer Saved the World” – where beer was the source of the world’s first writing, currency, played a key role in germ theory, and lead to both air conditioning, modern antibiotics, etc etc, etc.

        1. Summary of the entire Connections first series. Worth previewing.

          The later ones were in the 1990s. I never watched them all, but just one was enough to convince me to stay away from them. The first ones were amazing in their combination of ‘highbrow’ TV (a la other BBC programs like ‘Civilization’ or ‘The World At War’) with fairly high-$ production values. They traveled all over the planet and did dozens of dramatizations that made it super-entertaining.

          1. Ever see the Brit series The First World War? Fascinating stuff.

    2. Trade can prevent plagues and extinctions. Trade in medicine. Trade in just food, water and plumbing, for that matter. Trade (and property rights) in endangered animals. Etc. etc.

      What does it matter if he believes in a giant man in the sky, and doesn’t care what scientists say about a subject that has no bearing on his life and his decisions?

    3. Are you a hysterical supernaturalist who beleives in a giant man in the sky…like the president?

      1. And, in fact, every president we’ve had (so far as we know). Even with the truly awful presidents, the US has somehow survived theists as POTUS.

        1. Not to mention that, unfortunately, many of my fellows who don’t believe in the giant man in the sky immediately begin projecting their ideals onto the state as their great savior. I might think that the ‘giant man in the sky’ is a silly concept, but holding flesh and blood human beings up at the same level is truly insane.

  24. In 2015, evolution is irrelevant. The chronically stupid continue to breed unabated.

  25. Reuters attempts to tie it to both public opinion polls about support for the theory evolution

    You know who else thought political leaders should support evolution?

  26. 121 comments in NOBODY even mentions X-Men #142? WTF?

    1. har – just did below. before i saw your remark.

  27. I’m guessing tony is a cafeteria evolutionist

  28. I still have that issue of the UXM

    Neither here nor there. I think it was that story-series (“Mind out of Time”?) that hooked me on the comic for the next 10-12 years or so. I quit following it in High school. It was good stuff.

    1. The first issue that I ever bought and I was hooked. I was in middle school. Within two year, I managed to buy everything down to issue no. 96. Claremont and Byrne years were great.

    2. That Xmen plot series (the ‘alternate future’ thing) and the 1984 “secret wars” cross-marvel-universe series were IMHO the best years for Marvel overall. Of course I say that because I was like, 10-12yrs old and very much deep into it.

      The Secret Wars thing in particular was a stroke of marketing-genius, because it has so many cross-series storylines that Xmen fans had to buy Spiderman and Fantastic 4 and etc etc. all sorts of other books just to keep up with all the different plotlines…. and consequently spent probably 10X more on comics than they normally would*. I dont know how long it lasted (about a year?) but it was freaking epic.

      (*and probably got kids hooked on other books in the process – it was the end of the Secret Wars series where spiderman got hooked up with the symbiotic alien thing that became Spawn… or rather, where he nearly died trying to get it off of himself…)

      1. I never followed the secret war stuff. In fact, I never really like comics before I bought that issue. I found Byrne’s art head and shoulders above everything else. It was really unlike anything I had ever seen. I actually began taking my own nascent artistic talents a little more seriously as a result. The Claremont stories were unusual, too. Important issues, characters struggling and in some cases dying. Those stories probably seem pretty tame or even lame by today’s standards, but they were really cutting edge back then for that medium.

        1. “The Claremont stories were unusual, too. Important issues, characters struggling and in some cases dying.”

          Yes. Chris Clairmont elevated the X-Men from ‘super-hero’ cliche stories to ‘young-adult-fiction’ that were much more serious, inventive and thoughtful.

          that’s exactly what hooked me as well. part of it was the higher-level PK.Dick-style sci-fi stories, part of it was the ‘rougher’, more avant-garde, less-cartoony art.

  29. I’d consider voting for a president who believed in astrology and crystal healing if he said he was going to repeal Obamacare. Trade offs.

  30. Penn’s top 100 think tanks, witness The Fraser Institute and SIPRI’s presence in the list, span the full range of un-disinterestedness, from Bent to Benter.

  31. Some of these mutants make sense. Healing powers or super speed or strength could be evolutionary advantages. But I doubt anyone will ever evolve with the ability to control the weather.

  32. So the President doesn’t have anything to do with any of these? Good to know. Thanks, Scott Shackford!

    Department of Education
    HHS–Health & Human Services
    EPA–Environmental Protection Agency
    NIH–National Institutes of Health
    USPHS–United States Public Health Service [headed by the Surgeon General]
    NOAA–National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    NASA–National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    NSF–National Science Foundation

    I’m getting bored, here’s some more:
    http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Top…..cies.shtml
    Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    Department of Energy
    Department of Homeland Security Research
    Environmental Protection Agency
    Federal Communications Commission
    National Institute of Standards and Technology
    Patent and Trademark Office
    U.S. Geological Survey
    Information Centers
    Defense Technical Information Center
    National Agricultural Library
    National Library of Medicine
    National Technical Information Service
    Office of Scientific and Technical Information (DOE)
    Federal Research Policy
    National Science and Technology Council
    National Science Board
    Office of Science and Technology Policy (White House)

    I’m sure some of these might be legislative agencies, but I think most of them are executive agencies.

  33. On reaching evolution or not:

    So long as the idea of scientific method — the generation and testing of falsifiable hypotheses — is shown, I don’t have any great worries that bright kids won’t figure out their own answers to matters like intelligent design; and I don’t really care if my auto mechanic believes in his heart of hearts that he was divinely created and endowed by his creators with certain inalienable rights as opposed to his having evolved from bonobos without attention from his creator. I do worry that he knows how to read the output of the computer test equipment, and that he can figure out what the funny squeak is.

    Jerry Pournelle

  34. my best friend’s ex-wife makes $65 an hour on the computer . She has been without a job for seven months but last month her check was $13740 just working on the computer for a few hours. try this…………..

    ????? http://www.netpay20.com

  35. I always get a laugh at the gullible useful idiots that claim to believe in the bigoted evolution fraud, especially when they hypocritically simultaneously oppose the bigoted global warming/climate change fraud. Both are merely scams foisted on an ignorant citizenry to promote $ sex & power and have precisely zero truly scientific credibility, evolutionists hired by “the catholic church” having been behind creationist Galileo’s persecution as they still persecute Creationists, e.g. preventing creationist MRI inventor Damadian from getting the Nobel prize he deserved but was denied due to him being a creationist. See http://www.creation.com for many such

  36. You are spitting into the wind my friend.
    We elected, then re-elected, a president solely because of the crease in his pants and the color of his skin.
    There is a very good chance we may elect a woman because- “It’s HER turn.”
    Voters are like lynch mobs, they act in the passion of the moment then reflect upon their stupidity later.
    Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

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