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Faux (Fox) Pas

by Donald Prothero, Oct 05 2011

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

—Richard Feynman

To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, but to imagine your facts is another.

—John Burroughs

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

—Philip K. Dick, author

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

—Former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 2003

What’s real is what’s real, and, like it or not, no one can change the nature of reality. Except, of course, with mushrooms.

—Bill Maher

It happens so often that we are inured and desensitized to it. Creationists spout lies and distortions about science and reality, and no one disputes them (except an occasional high school student who challenged Michele Bachmann’s assertion that Nobelists denied evolution). Politicians like Rick Perry and Bachmann get up and brag about their doubts about the reality of global climate change and evolution, and they become the darlings of the GOP. Partisan media like Fox News and their parent company NewsCorp admit that they are receiving money from GOP candidates, or funneling it to them, and no one seems to care. News Corp and Rupert Murdoch get away with all sorts of outrages in their tabloids, yet they are so powerful that British politicians and cops dare not cross them—until their actions are so extreme that all of the UK is disgusted with them. But every once in a while, the cat is let out of the bag, and someone says something that reveals how these people are either abysmally ignorant of reality because of deluded ideology, or they are smart enough to recognize it but play along in a cynical grab for power over those who are ignorant or ill informed.

The latest incident occurred when two pundits on Fox News were discussing the GOP candidates. They point to Jon Huntsman as the sole candidate who would admit that global warming is real (Romney, Gingrich, and others who also once admitted it are now backtracking to kowtow to the extremists who vote in GOP primaries and caucuses). They comment that he’s losing ground to Rick Perry, who made false claims not only about global warming but also about how scientists were allegedly committing fraud. One of the Fox anchors, Clayton Morris, says it it in no uncertain terms:

Certainly, if you dive into the weeds a little bit on this global warming thing, you see that it seems the facts are certainly on Huntsman’s side on all of this and fact checkers have come out, and we’re actually having our own brain room look at this right now, that any of Perry’s comments don’t seem to hold a lot of water. But it doesn’t matter, because what’s resonating right now in South Carolina is helping Governor Perry tremendously. He fired back at Huntsman on global warming and gaining traction, facts or not.

There it is, in black and white. Pundits on Fox News admitting global warming is real, that it is supported by the scientific community—yet it matters not to Perry or others in the GOP craving power because their base doesn’t believe in reality. Political strategy aside, is this not among the most cynical things one could hear in the media? That facts are clear but don’t matter, since the GOP candidate must tell the extremists in their party what they want to hear, not tell the truth?

None of this is surprising to those of us in the scientific community who have followed politics since 2000. As Chris Mooney showed in his book The Republican War on Science, the GOP during the 8 years of Dubya pursued policies that were strongly in favor of big corporations, and ignored or rewrote the recommendations of their own science advisors whenever science and reality got in the way of their ideology. These incidents ranged from the subtle (rewriting EPA rules to favor big corporations) to the outrageous, such as the Bush official and  former oil company lobbyist Philip Cooney tampering with and toning down a scientific report on global warming, even though he had no science background and was clearly doing the bidding of the Administration and the oil lobby.

Indeed, the conflict goes back to the early Bush years, when Dubya backtracked on campaign pledges to curb global warming, and soon pursued policies that favored polluters, even while he was bragging to the media that he was in favor of creationism. The most revealing quote of all came when New York Times Magazine columnist Ron Suskind interviewed Karl Rove on Oct. 17, 2004:

he said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Once again, possibly without realizing it, they let the cat out of the bag. They know what is real, but they are cynical enough to play whatever political games they must play, and deny what they know to be real, all in the quest to gain and keep power. Machiavelli would not be surprised, but it is a pretty shameful admission nonetheless.

There were some in the media who have noticed it and commented, but now that the media are so polarized, you won’t hear anyone on the right wing commenting on it (with the exception of Morris above). One of the more measured and non-partisan analyses came from Nobelist Paul Krugman. As he puts it in his recent column:

Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

I could point out that Mr. Perry is buying into a truly crazy conspiracy theory, which asserts that thousands of scientists all around the world are on the take, with not one willing to break the code of silence. I could also point out that multiple investigations into charges of intellectual malpractice on the part of climate scientists have ended up exonerating the accused researchers of all accusations. But never mind: Mr. Perry and those who think like him know what they want to believe, and their response to anyone who contradicts them is to start a witch hunt.

So how has Mr. Romney, the other leading contender for the G.O.P. nomination, responded to Mr. Perry’s challenge? In trademark fashion: By running away. In the past, Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, has strongly endorsed the notion that man-made climate change is a real concern. But, last week, he softened that to a statement that he thinks the world is getting hotter, but “I don’t know that” and “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.” Moral courage!

Of course, we know what’s motivating Mr. Romney’s sudden lack of conviction. According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

I concur that those prospects are truly terrifying, especially as we saw the consequences of eight  years of Bush policies that ignored reality and played cynical power games. Fortunately, there is still time for voters to come around and recognize this manipulation of ignorant right-wingers.

In the meantime, I proudly wear a badge which proclaims my allegiance to the “reality-based community”.

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Faux (Fox) Pas, 4.3 out of 5 based on 23 ratings

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66 Responses to “Faux (Fox) Pas”

  1. MikeB says:

    OK, so I totally agree with this.

    But as someone who considers himself a Liberal By Default (I’m a gay, atheist farmer), I ask you not to forget the anti-science themes on the political left: “organic” farming, anti-genetic-engineering, and “alternative” medicine are embraced largely by liberals.

    The convolutions of thought, the fear-mongering and the ignorant fervor are just as appalling as the fervor of those on the right in their ignorance of evolution, climate change, and human sexuality.

    • Somite says:

      This false equivalency is utterly ridiculous. You are comparing examples of what some liberal individuals may have at some point believed to the platform of GOP presidential candidates in televised national debates.

      There is no comparison. Denial of reality is a political platform of the GOP.

      • Trimegistus says:

        Denial of economic reality is the bedrock of the Democratic party.

        Democrats love to wrap their idiocies in the mantle of scientific authority, but pimping out science isn’t the same as promoting or respecting it.

      • Somite says:

        Yeah. Because the GOP follows the advice of economists like nobel prize winner Paul Krugman. We also have the evidence of history where GOP policies lead to a lengthy period of prosperity under Bush. Yeah, right…

      • MySideWouldNeverEngageInSuchIdiocy says:

        the GOP platform denies reality? Srsly?

        You forgive the stupidities of liberals by saying: what some liberal individuals may have at some point believe.

        You do not apply this munificence to your ideological adversaries. You attribute a newsreader’s (Clayton Morris) comments to the GOP/conservative/whatever, right? The sins of Bush, Perry, and Romney are attributed to all GOPers, etc., but not so the sins of homeopaths, acupuncturists, patrons of assorted vanquished chic to Dems, etc. AmIrite?

        Mooney’s book, according to the author, purportedly demonstrated Bush and Cooney making decisions not based on what liberals wanted (“science,” which conveniently supported liberal positions) but on what corporations wanted; you don’t let that slide because that’s “what” two conservatives “may have at some point believe,” did you?

        (Also, if the author’s summary correct, Mooney is an idiot; the examples here were not “denial of reality”, they are examples of decisions prioritizing one course of action over another. The examples do not show denial merely two individuals not caring about “science” (however that fits here), e.g., I may accept global warming, but my decision to drive into work today does not mean I deny the science; I may accept global warming but I’d rather see more money go to X, is not denial of the science of global warming, right?

        The author’s comment that “They know what is real, but they are cynical enough to play whatever political games they must play, and deny what they know to be real, all in the quest to gain and keep power. Machiavelli would not be surprised, but it is a pretty shameful admission nonetheless.” Yeah, they don’t deny science, they don’t care. It may be cynical and practical pandering, but hardly denial. (And Machiavelli would not be ashamed either; he would say there is no shame in attaining power by putting on a mask hoi polloi want to see.))

        As for the “non-partisan analysis” of Mr. Krugman, does the author seriously believe K is non-partisan in anything? Has K ever “non-partisan”-analyze something towards a republican position? Have you ever wondered why the impartial, non-partisan, non-interested analysis never disagrees with your side’s position?

    • Unre9istered says:

      The biggest difference that I see, is that if a liberal candidate says that he has scientifically accurate views about organic farming, genetic engineering, or alternative medicine, he’s not committing political suicide. These areas are all a very small part of the political field for them. Meanwhile creationism and global warming denial are at the core of all of the high-polling conservative candidates platforms, and the one who said he was going with science is doing terribly.

  2. Tom says:

    It is hilarious that you quote Bill Maher at the start of your 34th “Republicans HATE Science!!!” screed.

    • LovleAnjel says:

      Bill Maher only hates medical science.

    • Somite says:

      The Bill Maher incident is evidence the left can be self-correcting. Bill was soundly criticized for his anti-medicine opinions and stopped mentioning it in his show.

      By now I am used to ideological BS coming from entertainers. There’s Maher but there is also Penn Jillette and his libertarianism and thus global warming denial.

      I personally try to get my information from working scientists in the field. Opinions you can get from anywhere.

      • Dr. Dim says:

        Here’s what Penn Jillette said about global warming in 2008, “I don’t know.”

        I don’t know if he’s changed his position since then. I’ll continue to search, but so far this is what I’ve found…

        http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jul/03/opinion/oe-jillette3

      • Dr. Dim says:

        I have also found this http://www.logicalscience.com/skeptics/bullshit.html

        It’s a critical review of the Penn & Teller Bullshit show on Environmental Hysteria. That show was released in 2003. So if Penn was a denier in 2003 (I’m not sure he was) and then says he doesn’t know in 2008, that might indicate that Penn is giving the matter more thought, looking at the new evidence, and is coming around, if you will. I’m not sure of his position now, he may be convinced of the pretty apparent fact about human caused global warming now.

        I find myself traveling a similar path.

      • Somite says:

        Given all the research and data saying “I don’t know” is as disingenuous as an outright denial. To “know” you just need to pay a visit to nasa.gov or any other web site that studies climate.

        Imagine any skeptic that responded “I don’t know” to the question of evolution.

      • Wrong says:

        If I haven’t yet seen or been exposed to the truth, I must be denying, or as bad as? In that case, Skepticism as a hobby is pointless, because Skepticism is about teaching the facts and showing people the truth, exposing fallacies and misconceptions. I’m sure if someone like Donald Prothero, or a spokesperson for the IPCC was to lay out the facts logically in a way that could be understood, a person with a skeptical point of view, (Which I feel reasonably confident in assigning to Penn Jillete) could be convinced of AGW.

        Moreover, I proudly say “I don’t know” about Evolution. I don’t know if it works in the Neo Darwinist sense, or through Punctuated Equilibrium, or some other mechanism. Why? Because I do not have, and have not been shown, evidence which proves one point or another, to the exclusion of all others.

  3. LovleAnjel says:

    I’m surprised Fox News is not adamantly denying AGW anymore. A morning anchor at my local station always seemed to take pains to connect stories to AGW and how it was a lie. I haven’t watched in awhile, I should go see if he’s still employed.

    If the GOP truly wants to change its discourse on AGW they’ve got an uphill battle to fight with their own voter base.

  4. Jarvis Puttinghet says:

    >Partisan media like Fox News and their parent company NewsCorp admit that they are receiving money from GOP candidates, or funneling it to them, and no one seems to care.
    I don’t understand why you are surprised about that. Fox’s viewers are on the Republican side and are probably happy that they’re getting good Republican news that they can trust.
    It is not in human nature to consider that that there might be winners and losers within one side. And what does it matter if they’re told they’re on the wrong side, since they can’t possibly trust those on the other side?

    • Scott Drouin says:

      I think the large problem here is that Dr. Prothero (as I do) believes that media should be a neutral force, and last I checked Fox was the most viewed news source in the US, unless that’s recently changed. News media should present the story and nothing else, it should not discriminate but Fox has been blatent about it to the point of ridiculousness. There are no perfect news organizations, everyone has some bias but they should be constantly striving towards the neutral and not promoting any specific side of politics.

      • Scott Drouin says:

        I should say specific side of any issue, not politics. My mistake

      • Scott — Take heart. Fox News has never been the most viewed news source in the US. Not even close. It *is* the most viewed cable news network, equal to its combined competition. Recent quarterly viewership that I found at the link attached to my name:

        Cable:
        Fox News 1,921,000
        MSNBC 841,000
        CNN 795,000
        HLN 361,000

        Network News Broadcasts:
        NBC 9,810,000
        ABC 8,650,000
        CBS 6,430,000

        –James

      • Jarvis Puttinghet says:

        I think we all here agree on news neutrality. But I was commenting on Donald’s evident surprise.

  5. Nyar says:

    Yeah well we live in a country in which even the people who disagree with you get to vote. Deal with it.

    • tmac57 says:

      Isn’t that what Donald Prothero is doing by writing this piece…dealing with it?

      • Nyar says:

        Yeah, now that you put it that way, I guess so. It will be entertaining to watch as Prothero goes the stages of grief as it becomes ever more obvious that the Democrats are going to get a shellacking again.

      • Donald Prothero says:

        We’ll see what happens. If the GOP nominates an extremist crazy like Perry or Bachmann, they’ll drag the whole ticket down with them–it will be Goldwater ’64 all over again….

      • Nyar says:

        Denial – check
        Anger
        Bargaining
        Depression
        Acceptance

      • Phea says:

        Being an independent voter, let me explain a couple things to Nyar, who I hope has enough sense to be a moderate Republican rather than a rabid Tea Party member. First, I was prepared to listen to McCain and may have been convinced to vote for him until he showed total and complete lack of good judgement by choosing Palin as his running mate. Did the GOP actually believe she would garner some of Clinton’s support from Obama? Second, the last election did indeed put some Tea Party folks in Congress, and what did they do? They behaved like a whiny two year old brat having a temper tantrum, totally unwilling to even discuss compromise. Politics is, always has been, and always will be, the ART of compromise. To not even discuss ending TEMPORARY tax cuts for the wealthy, which Obama had already extended once, was the height of stupidity and ignorance. In other words, the Tea Party had their shot, and totally blew it. Now, the moderate Republicans will have four years to take back their party. If they don’t, I’m afraid it might just be RIP GOP.

        On a side note… the Tea Party is basically shoveling the same old John Birch Society garbage of forty years ago, without the “commie behind every tree” paranoia.

      • Nyar says:

        Cool story Bro!

        I don’t really root for the Crips or the Bloods. The best we can do is to pit ambition against ambition and hope that somehow they both lose.

      • Wrong says:

        At which point, Nyar, you’ve given up your stake in future events. If you don’t care, why are you reading articles on skepticism? Which has the stated aims of debunking misconceptions and educating the general populace in science and critical thinking, ie, an impassioned objective.

        Neutrality means that you don’t really care. If you aren’t interested in at least taking control from idiots like Bachmann or Palin, and whoever their far left equivalents may or may not be, you aren’t a useful voter, moreover, if you aren’t willing to put some effort into making a decision, then your claims about the subject are as devoid of interest as a blank book.

        Of course the people who disagree with you get to vote, but I hope, that one day, those who disagree with me will be well educated and know what the issues we debate on are about, and make logical, scientific claims, rather than blindly following those who give them what they want.

      • Nyar says:

        @Wrong

        I didn’t say that I don’t care. I said that I don’t root for the Crips or the Bloods. I don’t trust either party with too much power and therefore I believe the best approach is to limit their power by encouraging them to disagree (and refuse to compromise with) each other. I also disagree with your assessment that I am not a useful voter, I am the most useful kind of voter, a swing voter.

        But whatever, I am free to vote however I please and I don’t owe you or anyone else a damn explanation. Same goes for my interest in skepticism, I read this blog because I enjoy it and I certainly don’t have to justify it to you.

  6. Doom says:

    I dont understand how anyone who understands whats happening to this country and the observations that articles like this make, can be anything but terrified about the future of science and reason.

    These issues keep me up and make me afraid to both live and procreate

    • Nyar says:

      You are afraid to procreate because of this stuff? That is the saddest thing I have ever read on the internet.

      • Wrong says:

        It’s good that some trailer trash are happy to keep pumping out children into a world who’s state they care not about. (The point where I lose patience with ardent stupidity and make an offensive claim).

        If someone says they are concerned about the sort of world that their children could grow up in, that’s a profound statement about their feelings, whether logical or not.

        Your response is Militantly Apathetic. Which is so oxymoronic I can hardly believe you can rationally believe your own position.

      • Nyar says:

        Oh I see. You are an elitist. Do you actually think you are better than anyone else whether they live mobile home or not? *Spoilers* You’re not. *End spoilers*

        I find it sad that Doom has allowed alarmist propaganda to scare him or her out of having children. Being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. And historically speaking, now is one of the best times to have children since infant and child mortality rates are low and standards of living are at historical highs. Compared to how our ancestors have lived for 99% of human history, we live in paradise. Even our poor are fat and live better and longer than kings did only centuries ago.

  7. BillG says:

    I am not defending the airhead chatter of Perry or Bachmann, but is the bulk of the GOP in denial about AGW or is it the vague and massive information on how best to address the problem?

  8. Chris Howard says:

    We want evidence based policy! When do we want it?! After peer review! The whole “Ideology over evidence” based crowd scares the bejeebus out of me… Faith based missile defense here we come.

    • Max says:

      THAAD simultaneously intercepted two targets for its first operational test today.
      http://www.mda.mil/news/11news0018.html

      • Jarvis Puttinghet says:

        That is extremely good news. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. Let’s hope it works well enough to stop the lunatics from holding the world for nuclear ransom.
        And that the world has changed enough to prevent the big blocks from warring for a hobby like they used to do in the absence of mutually assured destruction.

  9. Phea says:

    AGW, world economic meltdown, running out of oil and over population. That’s the short list of nasty things coming soon in the 21st Century. Can we fix them? I seriously doubt we’ll even try, as many don’t, or are unwilling to even recognize them. However, I am not pessimistic as I am a firm believer that nature will handle it, as she always has.

    • Wrong says:

      Well, then you shouldn’t be here. Nature isn’t a “she” she is a set of complex physical, biological and chemical equilibria. It’s all about numbers, statistics, probability, and causality.
      Nature ain’t shit. Nature didn’t do anything when Tasmania wiped out the Thylacine, Nature didn’t do anything to stop SmallPox, Nature couldn’t care less about the Dodo or the Dinosaurs (And now even I’m personifying “Nature”). Heck, Uranium, Arsenic, and Sulfur, are all Natural products. And they aren’t exactly good for you. Arguement from nature is pointless and naive. And the impetus to do nothing, because it will all be fine is worse than denial, because regardless of the facts, apathy is apathy, doing nothing is always going to be nothing.

      If we don’t accept the facts, and change things, then bad things will happen. Horrible things. No, it doesn’t mean the end. But it’s still not nice. And Nature. Will do. NOTHING.
      Your faith in a benevolent nature mother is as foolish as a Creationist’s belief in a divine creator, or mine in the flying spaghetti monster.

      • Phea says:

        Wow, I’m sorry I offended you by personifying nature… Really, it was just a figure of speech. I too am a bit offended that you would call me out for something I NEVER said. I never even said nature is benign, let alone benevolent. I simply stated four problems I see coming at us, and that I don’t believe mankind has it together enough to even care much about them, let alone do anything about them. It’s not even our fault, it’s the way we’re wired. Three of the things that plague us, (and these three things also come with some neat gifts, which I wont go in to), are:

        The necessity of greed, the enjoyment of cruelty, and the rigidity of opinion.

      • Phea says:

        Oh yeah, I’m also toying with the idea of becoming a devout Pasafarian.

      • Phea says:

        Make that Pastararian… sorry, (too bad there’s not an edit function available).

      • Phea says:

        Pastafarian… I give up.

    • tmac57 says:

      So,optimistic about Earth,pessimistic about humans?

      • Nyar says:

        Actually, I think Phea is being optimistic about both. Doomers love that kind of end of human civilization stuff. A pessimistic Doomer would be one who thinks that humans will most likely be ok in the near future.

      • Phea says:

        Hey, I hope I’m wrong. I hope none of it really matters, but I can’t bring myself to actually believe that. Either way, it should be very interesting to watch as events unfold. I’m 60, own all the stuff I’ve accumulated, and used to be disgusted, but now I’m just amused.

      • tmac57 says:

        George Carlin seemed to have turned to that kind of thinking near the end of his life too.I guess I would have that attitude too if I didn’t have grandkids who I care about.

      • Nyar says:

        Please accept my apology then if you are not a Doomer who fantasizes about TEOTWAWKI.

        Sorry.

      • Phea says:

        No Nyar, about the only thing I fantasize about is an occasional airbrushed babe in Playboy. (I may be getting up there, but thankfully my stuff still works).

      • Nyar says:

        @Phea

        That is good to hear, I hope that my stuff still works when I am 60.

      • tmac57 says:

        See,we can agree on some things.right? Stuff working at 60=good!
        Progress made.

      • tmac57 says:

        Well,there are always a few people who have a perverse outlook on things,but I think most people who feel that we are on a calamitous path,are truly worried and wish that it were not that way.

      • Phea says:

        Wow. “Perverse”, “Doomer”… I too have grandkids that I care about, and I truly wish that things weren’t the way they are. I also wish I’d been blessed by the gift of faith that would allow me to believe an invisible man in the sky will somehow make it all better. I also know which hand fills up first if you wish in one and crap in the other.

        As far as Carlin goes, I can’t disagree with the man about most things. Here’s a great example:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLW1vFO-2Q

      • Phea says:

        Oh… and even though I care, I refuse to spend the remainder of my life being frightened or even worried.

      • tmac57 says:

        I have to confess that video makes me laugh…and cry (inside at least),and I can’t really disagree with it unfortunately. Oh,and that “club” that Carlin talks about, they have now been relabeled as “The job creators”.

      • Max says:

        That video makes me roll my eyes at another blowhard demagogue living the American dream by using corporate media to trash the American dream and corporate media, while pretending to be like you and me. You want Communism, then go trade places with a Cuban, and give him your Brentwood mansion, cars, and stocks.

        Seriously, our education sucks because of the evil business owners? How does that work? Big Pharma and Big Oil want their employees to be Young Earth Creationists who suck at math? Give me a break.

      • tmac57 says:

        Twelve years ago I bought a semi-luxury new car for the 1st time in my life (mostly for the safety features),and 3 of my superiors at work,instead of saying nice car or congratulations or whatever,said something along the lines of “Man!We are paying you guys (people below them) too much money!” And you know what …I don’t think that they were kidding.For them,’The American Dream’ was for people LIKE them,not for people like me or my peers.

  10. Steve Din says:

    Donald– This is a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful article. And I’m especially delighted to see it in Skeptic Magazine, which has long been altogether too hospitable to Cato Institute libertarians who tolerate the GOP because anything is better in their view than accepting the idea of a social contract or understanding that the rich must be protected from themselves and need oversight. You are an eloquent voice and I can’t wait to read more of your work.

    • Steve: thanks for the vote of confidence. I’m used to all the right-wingers and libertarians on this site beating me up any time I veer remotely toward politics. You can read more about this stuff in my recent books “Greenhouse of the Dinosaurs” (2009) and this year’s “Catastrophes!”

      Don Prothero

  11. d brown says:

    Here in the Midwest, saying something about there is GW will get you yelled at by some commie hating guy with a red face. More often than not. THEY ALL WANT TO BELIEVE.

  12. d brown says:

    Who Rules America? – Paul Craig Roberts May 13, 2009 former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury (2/19/09)

    “Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda.”

    “The uniformity of the US media has become much more complete since the days of the cold war. During the 1990s, the US government permitted an unconscionable concentration of print and broadcast media that terminated the independence of the media. Today the US media is owned by 5 giant companies in which pro-Zionist Jews have disproportionate influence. More importantly, the values of the conglomerates reside in the broadcast licenses, which are granted by the government, and the corporations are run by corporate executives—not by journalists—whose eyes are on advertising revenues and the avoidance of controversy that might produce boycotts or upset advertisers and subscribers. Americans who rely on the totally corrupt corporate media have no idea what is happening anywhere on earth, much less at home.”

    • Max says:

      That quote isn’t out of “Who Rules America?” it’s out of “What We Know And Don’t Know About 9/11″ because Paul Craig Roberts is a 9/11 truther and a general conspiracy theorist and antisemite, which makes him the darling of the alternative/commie/nazi media, such as Russia Today, Prison Planet, and Stormfront.

      Oh, and his answer to “Who Rules America?” is “the military/security lobby, the financial gangsters, and AIPAC.” Now that’s something the right/left wingnuts can agree on.

  13. Nyar says:

    “which makes him the darling of the alternative/commie/nazi media, such as Russia Today, Prison Planet, and Stormfront.”

    Which leads us to the time-honored internet rebuttal: “Shut up you communist nazi Jew (go back to Canada).”

  14. Miles says:

    I’m a bit late to the party since I haven’t checked this blog in a while, but this post read more like an emotional outburst than a skeptical evaluation. Broad, sweeping statements such as “ignorant right-wingers”, describing Paul Krugman of all people as “non-partisan”, suggesting that if you describe yourself as a republican that you “reject reality”, etc., etc. The author is clearly attempting to associate the left as being rational and scientific, and the right as being, well, the opposite of that. It suggests that people on the right are biased and ideological, and people on the left are bastions of critical thinking and rational minds. I wonder if Donald Prothero believes himself to be unbiased and devoid of ideology? What happened to the rational approach of evaluating specific ideas on their merits, rather than lumping huge portions of the population into a lump organic mass of stupidity and verbally burning them like witches on a pyre?

  15. Max says:

    When the Perry administration was accused of censoring a report on the coastal environment, they defended their decision by saying the report contained “information… that we disagree with” and the chapter on the impacts of rising sea levels was “inconsistent with current Agency policy.”
    http://blogs.nature.com/news/2011/10/scientists_confront_perry_admi.html

    Commission spokesman Andy Saenz denied the claims of scientific censorship, giving up this quote:
    “Why would we include things we don’t agree with? That’s ridiculous. We were looking at not including very controversial things that are unsettled science. Using a word like censorship is very powerful. It isn’t censorship to accurately report in our document what we believe. That’s being responsible. That’s being accurate.”
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/20/us-climate-change-texas-idUSTRE79J0DW20111020

  16. John Mayer says:

    MikeB says: “I ask you not to forget the anti-science themes on the political left: ‘organic‘ farming, anti-genetic-engineering, and ’alternative‘ medicine are embraced largely by liberals.”
    Your sources, please? Perhaps you’ve not seen the anti-medicine pushed by Newsmax. In fact, until Huffington Post started promoting the likes of Dana Ullman and Dr. Mercola I’d have said alternative “medicine” was mostly embraced by conservatives, which was the one saving grace of Supplemental, Complementary and Alternative Medicine. But I really didn’t have any statistical proof of that view, either; it was just an impression.

    However, SOME alternative (that is, not provided by your physician) medicine DOES work, particularly some (not all) herbal remedies, which is why pharmaceutical labs and universities employ ethnobotanists, to find the ones that have medical value (whereby they, or their active ingredients, cease to be alternative). I have an organic garden, but that is mostly happenstance; I happen not to have used insecticides or chemical fertilizers long enough that it qualifies, and it costs me less to garden that way. The next time I plant eggplant, though, I might very well use a bit of Sevin to control flea beetles which don’t seem to yield to organic measures. I don’t think it is my imagination that organic produce, especially carrots, taste noticeably better. I suspect that is a result of their being less likely to be grown on depleted soil, but I don’t really know. But they DO, I am convinced, taste better.

    As to organic meats, well, I don’t think there is much doubt that the addition of hormones and antibiotics to meat, particularly in factory meat farms, had had a deleterious effect on all of us. At any rate, as petroleum and petroleum products become more costly, I suspect we will be eating organically grown foods out of necessity as much as preference.

    I don’t hesitate to eat GM foods, but fear of something going wrong is not entirely unreasonable. GM foods do not yet have, in peer reviewed studies, an unequivocally clean bill of health. And I have to acknowledge that developments such as terminator seeds—and the prospects of cross-pollination—disturb me. I believe caution is fully warranted.

    Regardless of all that, to equate liberal—if liberal they are—concerns over GM foods and additives to wide-spread disavowal on the right of clear scientific fact that imperils, to some degree, the very planet their children and grandchildren must occupy is asinine.