As is often the case, history repeats itself, and we have reached a point (at least in America) where a segment of the country feels their belief system crumbling and lashes out at those things that call it into question. Whether it is fighting the teaching of evolution in our classrooms(by putting creationism on equal footing, like in Tennessee) or the denial of climate change, some (and you know who you are) are exerting an all-out assault on science and reason.
Evolution and climate change may not be convenient to your idealogy, but it doesn't lessen their validity. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said,
"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
It's not a fair fight. Scientific progress, by its very nature, works on the assumption that all involved parties that are in disagreement are still respectful and are desirous of using reason to resolve that disagreement. Deniers, however, do not. Innuendo, out of context cherry picking of data and ad hominem attacks are all tools that they will use. Scientists will not and cannot use these same tools. It's like carrying a knife to a gun fight, as it were. Climatologist Michael Mann, on a recent NPR Science Friday broadcast (March 2, 2012) explores this issue.
Wunelle shared a great video from this last weekend's Reason Rally. In the video Adam Savage (of MythBusters) gives a short, straightforward account of what reason means in our daily lives. To simply drive a car, fly on a plane, use a computer ... you are relying on hundreds of years of theory, research and experimentation by scientists, mathematicians and engineers. It's not magic. The very people that rail against scientists, that stunt our children by fighting against real science and promoting religion and pseudo-science -- these people have no problem taking advantage of those technologies that are utterly dependent on science.
I propose that all that have a problem with the teaching of science and with the use of reason stop using the fruits of those things. The way I see it, unless you are living in some Quaker or Amana colony driving around in a horse-drawn carriage and spurning the use of technology, you are a fucking hypocrite.
Earlier I said that "some" were against science. That "some" is obviously largely conservatives and most notably the the religious among them. Why this group, that I believe is more vocal than actually large, gets such a prominent place in public discourse - I will never know. But, it is our responsibility as thinking beings to challenge the superstitious and ignorant. As Lawrence Krauss recently said,
" ... Choosing to censor or distort knowledge rather than risk the possibility that such knowledge, or the technologies that result from it, might challenge faith or confront preexisting ideological biases is a something that should better characterize the Taliban or al Qaeda rather than the Republican Party.
As we head into the home stretch of a too-long presidential primary season, it is not too late for the public to turn their back on candidates that turn their back on empirical reality and scientific progress."
When seeing a speech by Rick Santorum, one feels that some elaborate joke is being played on us. This is all just a modern day Monty Python sketch. But it's not and the gravity of the situation takes some of the fun out of it. If we don't fight against this revisited Inquisition, then we will have no one to blame but ourselves for what will become of our society.