The Un-American War on Science

My family founded the Minnesota Republican Party and I am dismayed by this un-American display of prideful ignorance. Our GOP candidates ought to be ashamed.
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Ninety-four percent of Texas schools teach only "abstinence only" sex education. The Texas teen birth rate is 50% above the national average. Yet when Texas Governor Rick Perry is asked about this, he says, "I'm just going to tell you from my own personal life, abstinence works." He also says that evolution is "a theory that's out there -- and it's got some gaps in it," and that "the science is not settled" on climate change.

Newt Gingrich says embryonic stem cell research is "killing children for research material."

Michele Bachmann calls global warming "voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax," and claims that the HPV vaccine has a very serious risk of causing "mental retardation," while Ron Paul says it is "not good medicine," even though medical experts recommend it because it prevents the leading cause of cervical cancer. It has no known cases of causing "mental retardation" in over 35 million uses in the U.S. alone.

Rick Santorum wants to teach creationism in science classes, as does Michele Bachmann, while Mitt Romney, after being told "bye-bye nomination" by Rush Limbaugh, now says he's not so sure if humans cause global warming.

Jon Huntsman is the only uncompromisingly pro-science GOP candidate, and after tweeting that he believes America's leading scientists about anthropogenic global warming and evolution -- "call me crazy," he tweeted -- he has been marginalized by GOP pundits.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner, who has also advocated for teaching creationism in science classes, displays an embarrassing ignorance of science when he claims that climate scientists say that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen. This from the second most powerful elected official in America, and someone we would hope would be engaging in reality.

Want to know what is going on in the Republican Party? Join the club. My family founded the Minnesota Republican Party and I am dismayed by this un-American display of prideful ignorance. These candidates ought to be ashamed. America didn't keep the world safe for democracy by pandering to ideological dark-agers -- we got ahead by using hard-headed science. It's time we get back to it, and start putting America first again. Even Pat Robertson is saying these candidates are "too extreme." With the exception of Huntsman, who has shown real spine, the rest of them owe America an apology.

President Obama's not much better. Running strong on climate change in 2008, he has since totally de-prioritized it, apparently marginalizing his scientist appointees like Chu, Holdren and Lubchenco, all of them outspoken on climate change, and now appears to be moving ahead with offshore oil drilling, lower air pollution standards, poor carbon standards, and the Keystone XL oil pipeline. In a time when the science has only advanced further and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences says anthropogenic global warming should be "regarded as settled facts" -- a time when China's leapfrogging ahead on clean energy investments in the next economy, that's not going to take America where we need to go.

I detail some of the reasons why this is happening -- and identify several solutions -- in the following video. But you are cautioned: move throwable objects away from the computer.

Shawn Lawrence Otto's keynote at the publication party for Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America. At the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, Oct 18, 2011. 160 people attended.

Introduction by Minnpost columnist and former CBS/WCCO-TV news anchor Don Shelby.

Get Shawn Lawrence Otto's important new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, "a gripping analysis of America's anti-science crisis." (starred Kirkus Review) An "incredible book" (starred Publishers Weekly review).

Like him on Facebook. Listen to him on Science Friday. Join Science Debate movement to get the presidential candidates to debate science.

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