How did the U.S. become a society that’s suspicious of science? – ‘How did bay-at-the-moon lunacy come to occupy a more prominent place in our public discourse than textbook science?’Posted by Jim at Monday, October 20, 2014
By Keith M. Parsons
15 October 2014
(Huffington Post) – I grew up in the heroic age of American science and engineering. In my lifetime, the space program put men on the moon, the interstate highway system connected the continent, Salk and Sabin conquered polio, and computers went from room-sized behemoths to hand-held wonders. In my youth, America clearly led the world in its ability to conduct large-scale science and engineering projects. True, some of these projects were morally disturbing. The Castle Bravo test of March 1, 1954, a 15-megaton thermonuclear blast at Bikini Atoll, caused radioactive fallout to rain down on unsuspecting victims. Yet the nuclear tests also represented scientific and engineering expertise of the highest order. […]
Fifty years ago science was king. Science had respect; it was bigger than ideology. No longer. Radio blowhards contemptuously dismiss scientific findings and endorse ideological claptrap. Anti-science stalks the halls of Congress and kooky ideas are rife among Boards of Education. Formerly, all parties in public debate, liberal and conservative, displayed deference to science. Now we have Senator James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, openly denouncing the findings of climate scientists as a hoax. The Texas State Board of Education, which is dominated by religious fundamentalists, prefers the propaganda of ax-grinding cranks over the recommendations of hundreds of qualified scientists and scholars.
How did this happen? How did bay-at-the-moon lunacy come to occupy a more prominent place in our public discourse than textbook science? How, indeed, has it ever come to be thought that there is still a scientific debate over evolution, or that pluperfect nonsense like creationism is worthy of a hearing? How did there come to be a multi-million dollar "creation museum" in Kentucky, with full-scale models of dinosaurs fitted out with saddles? (Why saddles? So Adam and Eve could ride them around Eden. Duh.) […]
Big money is the worst enemy of science.
Big Tobacco found the way to fight science. What do you do if the science shows that your product is deadly, killing tens of thousands of your customers a year, yet that product brings you profits beyond the dreams of avarice? You deny the science. You hire your own "experts" to do science your way and reach the conclusions you require. It is easy. […]
By generating doubt about the science, Big Tobacco avoided meaningful regulation for years. What worked for Big Tobacco now works even better for Big Oil and Big Coal. By funding obscurantist opposition to climate science, they have effectively scuttled any reforms that might threaten their profits.