When I heard that Republican Senator and presidential candidate John McCain spoke at the Discovery Institute, I was disappointed but not surprised. In March, there’s going to be a report released about antibiotic resistance in bacteria. A major finding of the report: roughly 40,000 people die every year from hospital-acquired antibiotic resistant bacterial infections.
The problem of antibiotic resistance is, fundamentally, a problem of evolutionary biology. Species of bacteria which had very few resistant strains (or none at all) now contain high frequencies of resistance strains (e.g., methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA). In other words, populations of bacteria have undergone genetic change–evolution–which has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths. How can one expect any administration which has to pander to creationists to take this evolutionary problem seriously? Could you imagine if flat-earthers ran NASA? I fear we would have, at best, another four years of government inaction regarding antibiotic resistance.
So I felt had to write something about McCain’s visit. Fortunately, ScienceBlogling Shelley hit it out of the park, so I’ll just turn it over to her (italics mine):
It is of the utmost importance that a president, or future preseident, have rational thinking and reasoning skills as well as a firm grasp over what constitutes scientific evidence in the formulation of theories. A president makes crucial decisions every day which impact the lives of millions of people. The election of a person who demonstrates an inability to assimilate facts and observations in a way that makes sense, but rather defaults to an emotional mythology, would be a grave mistake. Therefore, not only is it beyond reproach for the “intelligent liberal community” to impose a requirement of rationality on a future president, it would be ludicrous to do otherwise. Yes, I believe that influential people who cannot use their power in a coherant, scientifically-supportable way merits contempt.
Whether or not John McCain really believes in intelligent design, who’s to say? I tend to think he doesn’t, and this talk is just another panderfest to the conservative right. The problem is, in a presidential election, guilt-by-association is a very real thing. The reason for this is that there are no accidental appearances; every minute of McCain’s time from now until election day will be carefully planned, weighed, pondered over, and scrutinized by his team for maximum effect. This talk hosted by the DI, while not specifically admitting to agree with intelligent design, was also no accident. And the fact that a DI luncheon was an attractive place to spend his time in his quest to develop his image and become president, reveals that the image that HE wants to mold is very, very far from the image of the president I would elect.
We can’t afford another four years of pandering to superstition. It’s not just unpalatable, it will be deadly.