If I say the phrase “War on Science”, what do you think of? Well, if you’re an American, you probably think about the Right’s “War on Evolution”. And yes, that’s a real thing: a minority of right-wingers don’t believe in Evolution, and have been trying to get “Creationism” or “Creation Science” placed into curricula in schools across the country. I’m not a fan of the practice. I mean, if you want to teach about Creationism in a philosophy class, that’s fine by me. But the inherent correctness of Evolution as a theory should be so obvious to everyone that it, and only it, should be taught in science classrooms.
But it’s not like the Right is the only side waging war on science. Yes, our favorite nutcases on the Left have their own little wars. While the Right’s war is mainly against Evolution, the Left has all kinds of issues with different aspects of science. And while the Right is at least straight-up in their opposition to Evolution, the Left likes to hide behind junk science and emotion to cover up their war.
Take the Left’s war on the internal combustion engine, for example. Yes, we all agree that fossil fuels are dirty and in (somewhat) limited supply. In a perfect world, we would indeed find some better alternative to gasoline engines. But the time, money and effort used by the Left in promoting electric vehicles is just silly. A Chevy Volt uses a 435 lb. electric battery to travel 35 whole miles. Chevy’s Cruze, on the other hand, gets 42 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. And the Cruze is probably (I’m no expert) friendlier to the environment overall than the Volt is. After all, in most parts of the country, the electricity used to charge the Volt probably came from a coal power plant, and the construction of all those batteries uses tons of energy. The nickel used to make the batteries comes from Canada, probably from an area in Ontario called the Superstack. The nickel is shipped to Europe to be refined, then sent to China to be made in to “nickel foam”, then to Japan for assembly, then to the United States for sale. As this article at Wired says, each Prius requires 1,000 gallons of fuel just to assemble the parts. In fact, the Prius requires far more energy to construct than a Hummer, although the Prius will eventually even it out (the Prius gets around 45 mpg while the Hummer gets 16 mpg on the highway). Of course, the Left’s inability to understand the limitations of current technology isn’t exactly a “War on Science”. Perhaps that’s just really wishful thinking. Or maybe they’re just bad at math (it would take nine years of $5/gallon gas for a Chevy Volt to be more cost-effective than the Cruze, due to the fact that the Cruze costs half of what the Volt does).
No, for a real war, take a look at genetically-modified organisms, or GMOs. The Left, who wants to promote “natural” and “organic” food, accuses Monsanto, Dole and other food companies of “poisoning” the food supply. Well, to paraphrase Penn and Teller, this is just “a bunch of rich white liberals who want to deny food to brown people”. America certainly has the ability to feed itself, and one of the bright spots in our otherwise crappy economy is food exports… which go to feed brown people. So, in my view, there’s an inherent racism in opposing GMOs. One of the first Green Revolution advocates, Norman Borlaug, worked mostly in Mexico, Pakistan, and India and is credited with saving the lives of a billion people. Yet, instead of being a hero to the Left for saving the lives of non-white people, he’s a villain for modifying plants… which is something humans have been doing for thousands of years. I mean, come on, folks: if you think the Granny Smith or Cavendish or Haas you’re eating bears any resemblance to apples, bananas and avocados of thousands of years ago (or even decades ago) you’re completely mental. Yet somehow, a farmer accidentally cultivating a new apple is OK, but a scientist doing it with genes in a lab is a crime against nature. That’s rich!
And then there’s the recent OMG OUTRAEG! over so-called “pink slime”. Folks, all the meat producers do is take beef scraps, heat them up a bit to render out the fat, put it in a centrifuge to separate out the meat, spray some ammonia on it to kill the bacteria (and, contrary to what you may have heard, ammonia is a common product in food production) and then rinse it in water to remove the ammonia. It’s that simple. If you want to say that it’s “not beef”, that’s just silly. It *is* meat. It’s not a “crime against nature”, or whatever it is that offends your NPR-listening sensibilities. Although I myself would be mad if I was paying for “ground sirloin” and got pink slime (instead of “ground beef”).
And how about the anti-vaccination crowd? While the rank and file believers might come from all over the political spectrum, their leadership is certainly hardcore Left. And, despite the fact that their patron saint, Andrew Wakefield, has been completely discredited and that there’s not a single study showing a relationship between autism and vaccines, the nutcases keep believing. Of course, this isn’t because Wakefield is both wrong and a crook, it’s because “Big Pharma” has led a smear campaign against him. Because Big Pharma makes BIG PROFITS off vaccines (news flash: they don’t). These people are nuttier than Moon Landing Deniers, yet some continue to believe. Yet it’s only the Right that’s stupid, even though belief in Creationism hasn’t killed anyone.
And how about animal rights activists planting bombs and sending death threats to researchers who test on animals? Yep, that’s a big wing of the Tea Party right there! And what about Global Warming? There’s hardly “consensus” on the issue, despite the Left’s rush to “do something” (destroy economies, seize wealth, give massive rights to the government), yet many aren’t convinced the problem is either real, or nearly as bad as some of the Left’s “scienticians” would have us believe.
Or how about the liberal idea that “male” and “female” are only social constructs, even though there’s a mountain of evidence to indicate that male and female mammalian brains are, in fact, wired completely differently. Or that teenagers can make rational decisions about smoking or condom use, even though teens are biologically incapable of inhibiting risky behavior. Yet the liberals ignore this science as it interferes with their views on society, from gay marriage and adoption, to teen sex education to caps on male enrollment in science and engineering degrees.
It’s all a giant mess. I planned to write a massive, erudite piece on this. But, as When in Rome would say, “I’m just thinking of the right words to say. I know they don’t sound the way I planned them to be.” Let’s just keep in mind that the Left can be as nutty as the Right when it comes to science. And both sides need to stop.