Science is a critical tool to help us solve the problems of the day. Science is a crucial tool to help us compete in the business world of the future. Science, our ability to use reason and our minds to understand the world and solve problems, has been the most powerful tool driving us forward as a species since the beginning of time. How is it that we find ourselves denying the very skill which makes us uniquely human? How is that we find ourselves denying the answers science gives us when throughout history we have used science to improve our lives almost daily. Somehow suddenly science can't be relied upon.
Do we truly believe that the modern right fails to see the power and truth of science? We all know that in an effort to pay campaign debts owed, to appease their christian conservative base, the modern right does everything it can to fight against science in the interests of profit and dogma. Strangely, in their effort to support business interests, they deny business' most powerful profit source, science. Science has led to every product, every technology, every tool that business uses to acquire wealth. Yet when science is used to demonstrate problems that business is creating, like pollution and global warming, suddenly science is no longer trusted.
The same science that drives business innovation ought to be equally valid when it points out the problems created by decades of excessive use of fossil fuels, but the American right wants to have their cake and eat it too. They conveniently ignore all the ways that science touches their life. They conveniently use science when it benefits them while denying the select parts which challenge the beliefs and wallets of their political base. Ironically, the very tools the modern right uses to fight science were made possible by science itself.
The problem with the American right goes beyond denial of fact. The voices on the right go beyond denial of what is known, to actively engaging in strategies to undermine science, to create psuedo-science and establish what is known to be false as true. Again a question arises. If the modern right's views are correct, why go to such great lengths to prove your point? If you are right why deny what has been proven to be true. If you are right why fabricate a new truth devoid of fact or evidence? Strangely, in an effort to deny science, the modern right creates scientific sounding terms, writes scientific styled papers and invents scientific sounding theories to disprove actual science.
Recently, conspiracy has become one of the key tools the right uses to deny the validity of scientific findings. They say that global climate change is a conspiracy. They say that evolution is conspiracy. They ignore facts and data as conspiracy. Politicians on the right go so far as to suggest that scientists present false theories in exchange for money. This is the darkest irony of all, politicians accusing others of conspiring and lying for money. I guess when you step back and look at it, if you live in a world free of facts, then the rest of us would appear to be engaged in a global conspiracy known as reality.
The voices on the right who make such claims can’t actually believe it themselves. They seek to use the conspiracy myth as a tool, as a means to an end. The modern right skillfully wields conspiracy and confusion to move the minds and opinions of everyday people, even those in the middle and on the left away from fact towards doubt. Through repetition of fabricated doubt, the conspiracy lie becomes reality and scientific validity becomes fabrication. Doubt and plausible deniability become deeply rooted in our collective consciousness.
Having created doubt in the minds of so many, the right increasingly uses government to deny, delay and ignore vital science. For example the Bush administration actively developed strategies to refute scientific studies the government itself had conducted. Creative editing coupled with refusal to release entire studies helped the Bush administration delay our nation's ability to respond to climate change by almost a decade. Our newly elected republican House of Representatives looks to continue this tradition and is again actively seeking to delay and ignore science through the strategic placement of ideologue committee chairs.
The right also creates scientific sounding think tanks to generate scientific sounding theories like “intelligent design”. Armed with psuedo-science they look to supplant real science, real facts in our schools and in our society with fabricated lies intended to achieve political goals. This is so troubling it bears repeating. The right is actively seeking to deny truth, while actively establishing fabricated lies as truth. Most troubling of all, the right then seeks to establish and propagate these lies in our schools. They seek to teach these lies in our classrooms and in our textbooks along side and in place of established, proven science.
If the right truly believes that science is a conspiracy, that it can’t be relied upon, that it should be ignored then they need to fundamentally change how they live their lives. If science is a lie I would suggest that the right deny themselves all of the things that science has brought into their lives. If science is a lie then they shouldn’t drive cars. If science is a lie then they shouldn’t use computers to post their blogs on the internet, they shouldn’t tweet, they shouldn’t send those famous chain emails. If science can’t be relied upon, they shouldn’t use their radios and televisions. If science can’t be trusted, they shouldn’t use paper and printing presses to print their newspapers, magazines and books. If science can't be trusted they shouldn't use electricity, running water or plumbing in their homes. If science is a lie then they shouldn't stare straight into the camera and speak into the microphone that global climate change is a hoax.
Science is a double edged sword. It adds great benefit to our lives, but occasionally it discovers things that may be contrary to what we want or believe. Covering your eyes does not make the world go away, and ignoring science doesn’t make the truth of it’s discoveries go away. When those discoveries are important, when they have great bearing upon the future of our species, no matter how discomforting, we must pay attention. Denial is not a valid strategy for dealing with the world or the problems that confront us.
How can we look to the American future without science? How can we compete in the world of business without science? How can we educate our citizens without science?
No true conservative can deny the value and role of science in our world and in our evolution as a species. Sadly, the left has not fought hard enough for science. We have not fought the deliberate fabricated lies from the right vigorously enough. The argument isn’t a difficult one. It isn’t a complex one. We simply need to have it. We simply need to hold our ground and reestablish fact as a valid basis for policy and decision making.
Moving from the age of reason to a second dark age is not the formula for a bright American future.