A few days ago, the Pew Research Center reported its disturbing – but sadly not surprising – finding that Republican “belief” in evolution has plummeted in recent years. I put “belief” in quotes, because any educated person should know that science has nothing whatsoever to do with “belief,” but about data collection, hypothesis development, rigorous testing and experimentation, etc. In short, science is about empiricism and rationality, the opposite of “belief,” religion, theology, etc.
Anyway, the pathetic and disturbing bottom line is that only 43% of Republicans agree with the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans – like all other species – have evolved over time. This compares to 67% of Democrats and 65% of Independents, both of which are also pathetically low percentages, but still 20+ points better than Republicans. This would be bad enough if it were isolated to one branch of science, albeit an absolutely crucial one. But it isn’t.
Instead, Republicans also don’t “believe” in other major scientific findings, such as that human-emitted greenhouse gases are causing climate change. Of course, climate science also has been demonstrated and validated/refined by overwhelming empirical evidence, collected over more than a century, in addition to tremendous grounding in scientific theory (and no, the word “theory” in science does not mean what it does in popular usage). Yet according to Pew, only 24% of Republicans (and something like 9% of Tea Partiers) give the scientifically accurate answer that human activity is the primary cause of global warming, compared to 66% of Democrats and 43% of Independents. Again, those are pathetic numbers among Democrats and Independents, but still far better than among Republicans, let alone Tea Partiers.
The bottom line is that on two of the best-supported scientific matters, Republicans – and particularly the Tea Party branch – are unequivocally the “stupid party,” as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) put it. More evidence of this disturbing phenenomenon can be found right here in Virginia, as Josh Israel of Think Progress reports:
A new bill, up for consideration this year in the Virginia General Assembly, would give Virginia’s public school teachers permission to teach about the “scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses” of “scientific theories” like evolution and global climate change. The bill is part of a national trend of legislative proposals, led by creationist organizations like the Discovery Institute and climate-change deniers such as the Heartland Institute.
Virginia State Delegate Richard “Dickie” Bell (R) pre-filed House Bill 207 over the holidays for consideration by the House of Delegates when it reconvenes this week. His proposal would require Virginia elementary and secondary schools to teach about “scientific controversies” in science classes.
This is obviously unacceptable and should receive ZERO votes in the Virginia General Assembly. I mean, it’s one thing for rank-and-file Republicans, Independents, or Democrats to be scientific ignoramuses, but our supposed leaders certainly have no excuse (other than pandering to said ignoramuses). Yet here we are, with a bill to require Virginia public school teachers to actually teach children how NOT to think scientifically, and basically how NOT to be competitive in a 21st century economy in which understanding of science and technology are paramount. It’s utterly appalling, and we should all be watching VERY closely to see who votes for this trash. Frankly, anyone who does so should be automatically disqualified from holding public office. But since that’s not possible, the least we can do is make sure we vote against anyone who does so, strongly support their opponent, and otherwise let them know our displeasure at their anti-science, pro-theocracy attitudes.