Assault On Science By Conservatives Threatens America’s Future

Charles Darwin - photo by C.G.P. Grey

Kenneth R. Miller, biology professor at Brown University, says, “America’s got a Darwin problem” in an excellent article on The Huffington Post. He explains many Americans view scientists and the scientific community as suspect and this enables the denialism of important science on evolution and climate change.

Significant numbers of Americans have come to regard the scientific enterprise as a special interest group that rejects mainstream American values and is not worthy of the public trust. Governor Rick Perry of Texas spoke to this view when he claimed that “There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data” to their own benefit.

I think the problem is that too many people see science as something the nerds and brainy people do, when the reality is that science is all around us. The human race has a relentless craving for knowledge and unwavering quest to find answers. Those qualities, which are in all of us, is why we have come up with a systematic approach called science. Simply put, science is knowledge. Science is the name we give to our craving for knowledge and our quest to find answers. Therefore, in a very broad sense, we are all scientists.

When people depict scientists as an elite group interested only in advancing a narrow agenda, rather than enhancing collective human knowledge, it becomes easier to dismiss really important scientific findings that can impact our long-term well-being. The assault on science by many conservatives threatens America’s future competitiveness. Their denial of climate change threatens the future of everyone on the planet.

Miller writes,

It threatens the future of American scientific leadership in an increasingly competitive world. Convince enough young Americans that science is a close-minded system with a particular cultural and political agenda, and we will cede leadership to emerging countries that don’t share our Darwin hang-ups.

In 2005, President George W. Bush said that he thought intelligent design should be taught along with evolution. The president said, “Both sides ought to be properly taught…so people can understand what the debate is about.”

What debate? The theory of evolution is the result of knowledge gained by a systematic approach, while intelligent design is religion masquerading as science. When it comes to what should be taught in science class, there is no debate, it should be science and only science.

Says Miller,

Evolution isn’t just a story about where we came from. It’s an epic at the center of life itself. Far from robbing our lives of meaning, it instills an appreciation for the beautiful, enduring, and ultimately triumphant fabric of life that covers our planet. Understanding that doesn’t demean human life — it enhances it.

Everyone should be skeptical, but it only serves to reinforce a narrow worldview to deny science when it provides answers we aren’t comfortable with.


Kenneth R. Miller: America’s Darwin Problem

photo by C.G.P. Grey


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