Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Wisdom of Ms. Rabett

"Climate Change: the science is not settled"
Brought to you by the same people who sold "Lung Cancer: the science is not in"

So John Huntsman is doubling down in an interview to be aired tomorrow

TAPPER: These comments from Governor Perry prompted you to Tweet, quote: "To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." Were you just being cheeky or do you think there's a serious problem with what Governor Perry said?

HUNTSMAN: I think there's a serious problem. The minute that the Republican Party becomes the party - the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people who would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012. When we take a position that isn't willing to embrace evolution, when we take a position that basically runs counter to what 98 of 100 climate scientists have said, what the National Academy of Science - Sciences has said about what is causing climate change and man's contribution to it, I think we find ourselves on the wrong side of science, and, therefore, in a losing position.

The Republican Party has to remember that we're drawing from traditions that go back as far as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. And we've got a lot of traditions to draw upon. But I can't remember a time in our history where we actually were willing to shun science and become a - a party that - that was antithetical to science. I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula.

Clearly his strategy is to capture the 30% (hopefully) of the Republican vote that has not gone full metal wingnut, and let his opponents carve up the rest. Hopefully it is enough to set down a marker although it is hard to see it as a winning strategy right now.

Looks like this is politics Saturday


David B. Benson said...

Nah, he's out of it now. Not a true mad hatter tea partyist.

John said...

When I was growing up in the 1950's, my parents were moderate Republicans. (Later, during the Watergate scandal, they became Democrats.) We went to church every week. (This placed us among the more devout members of our congregation: many others only showed up on Christmas and Easter). We said grace before dinner every night.

It never occurred to my parents to doubt evolution. They regarded fundamentalists as a bunch of wackos.

The discussion of evolution sometimes omits a crucial part of the religious dimension: American Protestants are divided about evolution, with fundamentalists insisting on a literal reading of the Bible. The mainstream Protestant tradition in which I was raised accepts evolution and the rest of modern science. The split in Protestantism was manifest during the Scopes trial, and has never healed. Fundamentalist Protestants are found all over the country, but seem to be stronger in the South. I don't know why.

African-American Protestants require separate consideration, because the most segregated time of the week is Sunday morning. AFAIK, African-American protestants do not insist on a literal reading of the Bible, regarding it instead as a compendium of wise thoughts.

The Catholic Church hardly has a position at all on evolution. I don't know why, but it's not an issue on which the Catholic Church has chosen to make a stand.

Some kinds of Christians are more likely than others to reject evolution. So the driving force behind denial of evolution is a segment of white Protestants, for whom acceptance of evolution would cast doubt on the truth of the Scriptures.

james( said...

You do remember the 2010 election results? :-)

The Rebublican party is no longer diferentiated from the so called Tea party, as can be seen here,

The rise of stupid has begun, as can be seen in the movies people frequent, the never ending stream of 'super hero' plots is stark evidence of just how tolerant people are of irrational proposals.
This tolerance is demonstrated in how they vote, ie in it's first election the radical wing of the Republican party (tea party)captured 10% of the Congress.

Unfortunately the only thing that can put a lid on those advocating idiocracy is an improving economy. As the Democrats seem bereft of the capabilities to instigate major public works, idiocracy seems inevitable.

I wouldn't mind a small bet that those in Financial circles are only too keen to keep out any who seem interested in regulating their honey pot, so it is in their interest to keep the Economy down, until the stupid gains Presidency and then they can really live it up, just like in the last days of Rome.

Perhaps the purest manifestation of Idiocracy so far has been Bachmann's concern about the rising Soviet Union and in a close second is Cain's demands for all bills to be no longer than 3 pages.

As various have said before, burn Hollywood, burn.

Visitor said...


Pope John Paul I declared Evolution Theory "compatible" with catholic faith in 1996. Previously, pope Pius XII had admitted that "maybe" Evolutionism wasn't totally incompatible with Catholicism.

I was raised in a catholic school where priests would always try to conciliate Evolutionism and Catholicism. Creationism was regarded as a primitive and wrong belief.

The Church doesn't have the obligation or authority to say if Evolutionism is right or wrong; Faith should be independent, inmune and unrelated to scientific development -and viceversa.

Being this the mainstream position in the Catholic and Protestant Churches, one has to wonder why creationist wackos get so much attention in the media.


Martin Vermeer said...

> The minute that the Republican Party
> becomes the party - the anti-science
> party, we have a huge problem.

Hmm, I don't think anti-science is a very useful framing -- anti-reality is. We live inside reality, we on the inside, reality on the outside. Not a good negotiating position :-)

Anonymous said...

"I'm not sure that's good for our future and it's not a winning formula."

Republican candidates are leading the charge against Science and you respond with tepid waffling? I'm sure your courage is going to save the day.

Jeffrey Davis

John Mashey said...

I occasionally write for the Skeptical Inquirer, which has long studied and debunked anti-reality beliefs (most of which have been more typically pseudoscience). But those who think they've been abducted by aliens do not run well-organized, well-funded efforts to elect candidates who believe so, harass space scientists endlessly, try to eliminate funding for NASA, etc, etc. I.e., anti-science goes beyond anti-reality/pseudoscience into something else.

John Mashey said...

I certainly have no inside information, (although I was interested to see he grew up in Palo Alto (~ not famous for extreme right-wing)), but:

I speculate that a Republican who accepts science and actually seems to worry about making government work (unlike those funded by the Kochs, i.e., AFP/FreedomWorks=>Tea party) might well be getting his name around this time as a voice of rationality and thinking about 2016.

However, this whole silliness with Rick Perry offered a delicious coincidence for a topic that has occupied me of late.

Rick Perry (or his staff, anyway) take (anthopologist) Peter Wood very seriously on the state of climate science.

Washington Post, Fact-Checker, by Glenn Kessler:

“Another Perry spokesman, Ray Sullivan, provided links to a number of recent articles that he said demonstrated skepticism in the scientific community. We reviewed the articles, and they are anecdotal in nature, not evidence of the groundswell of opposition suggested by Perry.”

The “to” link there is to Wood’s 2nd related article at the Chronicle of Higher Education, Climate Thuggery

but bunnies should check the other 4. One is on polar bears, the other three are about Spencer/Braswell.

AS it happens, a few days later, CHE publishe and article by me and Rob Coleman,
Bottling Nonsense, Abusing a Civil Platform. There had been a great deal of sputtering about the non-plagiarism of Wegman by Wood and various commenters...
I finally pointed out that Rob chairs the Academic Misconduct committee @ Ohio State, and was one of the 3 experts quoted in Dan Vergano's Wegman piece last Fall. Of course, of some commenters, one might say: "The Dunning-Kruger is *strong* in this one.")

The Wood pieces + Rob&I have accounted for 570+ comments, >50% of the total comments on all the Innovation blogs since this started.
Most of the traffic arrived from 3 blogs (Judith Curry’s (497 comments) where Wood posted and was well-received for his tale for astonishment, WUWT (H/T Roger Pielke, jr), and Bishop Hill, who between them generated at least 800 comments. Judith advertised her post at WUWT and BH.

Comments in the CHE Innovations blog average about 14/article.
The 3 with Wood & us: 101, 225, and 253 (appears to be a record for the last 6 months) and together account for more than half of all comments on all articles (~40) since Wood's first one 06/30.

But do take a look to see what Perry's staff thinks is credible.

John Mashey said...

Oops, one more in the anti-science category. Some of us have documented the confluence of tobacco and climate anti-science, i.e., see the "T" row at the top of pp.93-95 in CCC.

Most of the key thinktanks in climate science have long taken tobacco money or had other tobacco associations. For example, see this nice list of $$ at Tobacco Archives.

People may know that CA is #2 in US in having the lowest rate of smoking. (UT is #1 for the obvious Mormon reason.] In Republican-majority states, one might expect tobacco money to flow through them, but CA is majority-Democratic.

The details are here, which has a 26-page report plus backup databases.

A few quotes:
"During the 2009-2010 election cycle, the nation’s two largest tobacco manufacturers (Philip Morris USA Inc. and Reynolds American Inc.) and the tobacco distributors industry (California Distributors Association) contributed more than $6.5 million in campaign contributions to political committees, candidates and members of the California Legislature and state constitutional offices. This represents an increase of more than $4.5 million from the previous 2007-2008 election cycle."
That's not counting ballot propositions, lobbying, etc.

Historical (p.19): 2001-2010: $49M for Philip Morris, $27M from Reynolds in campaign contributions, but over last 10 years, nearly $100M in identified expense.

pp.9-14 details the sources and donations for the legislators.
Steve Harmon @ San Jose Mercury News summarized the results.

Bottom line: of 77 Democrats in CA Legislature, 54 (70%) have gotten no money from tobacco interests, of the 43 Republicans, only 2 have *not* gotten such money. (R) averaged %21K/person, (D) averaged %12K.

Note: to be fair, there are sometimes legitimate arguments about entities like the CA Distributors' Association.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see where tobacco money goes if the (R) candidate turns out to be one of the two Mormons.

Snapple said...

Catholic schools teach evolution in Biology. In Environmental Science we teach that man is causing climate change. We have NASA posters and polar bears on the walls. The nuns who teach science think Cuccinelli is an embarrassment.

Some Catholics are more Republican than Catholic. Sometimes unknown people put creationist literature in church lobbies to confuse people, but I saw the Biology teacher swipe all the literature, rip it up, and throw it in the outside trash can. She did it right in front of the other teachers and said the booklets were stupid and embarrassing.

The Catholic Church has the nonsectarian Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The head of it is a Protestant. They have had scientists to advise them for hundreds of years.

The Vatican just hosted a conference on melting glaciers that was led by very famous scientists such as Crutzen, Bengtsson, and Ramanathan. The Vatican tries to keep up with the best science and the Pontifical Academy is full of NobelPrize winners.

Check it out:

There are some so-called Catholic and Protestant internet sites that try to fool people about the position of the Catholics and main-line Protestants.
Monckton seems affiliated with one of those. As for Catholics, they should read what the Vatican's Pontifical Academy says.

I think even some Evangelicals talk about climate change. The Bible says that people should be good stewards of the Earth.

Snapple said...

It is a huge mistake to write that religious people are against climate change science. This is the same propaganda as the astroturf "religious" organizations spread. Look at what the church leaders say.

Blaming religion for denialism just makes uninformed relgious people decide to be against climate change. You play into the denialist propaganda about what religious people supposedly believe. It would be better to cite the Vatican conferences.

I have a lot on my blog about the Vatican position on climate change.

Brian said...

John - a number of white Protestant church groupings split up over slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War (e.g., American Baptist Church that I grew up in v. Southern Baptist Convention), and the Southern affiliations remained conservative/literalist.

African-Americans tend to reject evolution:

I suspect it's a combination of less education and churches that accept miracles, which provide all the excuses you need for any illogical/unscientific parts of the Bible.

Catholic and Mormon theology both de-emphasize the Bible and emphasize priestly interpreters, so it's easier to be flexible or receive visions (like that African-Americans could be allowed to become Mormons, I believe that prophecy came through in the 70s).

Snapple - there's a fairly significant current in Evangelical thought concerned about climate change and biodiversity, called Creation Care. Potential allies. I think climate change deniers are tying climate science to evolution to weaken this potential alliance.