…and why most scientists oppose the Bush administration. In a post about hurricane Katrina, Rick Perlstein writes (bold original, italics mine):
I recently had an instructive moment with a colleague here at Campaign for America’s Future. We’ve been discussing a series of texts for a redesign of the site meant to introduce the various themes of The Big Con. In one box, he’d placed various consequences of conservative government. In another, he’d placed descriptions various fundamentals of conservative philosophy. He’d placed “cronyism” in the first box. I gently corrected him, moving it to the second. One of [the] conservative fundamental[s] is that the progressive notion of staffing government with disinterested experts is neither desirable or possible. They speak of agencies being “captured” by the “public interest” community–a crowd they consider political cronies in themselves, mere apparatchiks of some nefarious “liberal” machine. It is a core conservative principle: if one is not an active conservative, then only alternative is that you are a liberal. Thus believing an expert civil service and a phalanx of Republican hacks equally cronyful, they don’t know any other way than to staff a government with Albaughs and Michael Browns. It’s literally an ontological impossibility for them.
Conservatives are the ultimate deconstructionists–all analysis must be first and foremost viewed through the prism of ideology. Thus, global warming, an empirical phenomenon supported by multiple lines of evidence and verified by numerous highly trained and qualified experts, isn’t happening. Creationism and evolution are “just theories”, even though the former is not supported at all, while the latter is, again, supported by multiple lines of evidence.
The corollary of this foolishness, of course, is that anyone can be an expert. There seems to be this moronic belief that good folks with American values can just get together and build a nuclear reactor. Or inspect a bridge. It doesn’t work that way. You actually have to possess training and expertise to do this. A twenty-four year old college dropout shouldn’t be telling climatologists and astrophysicists what to say about their results.
Yet that is the way the Bush administration does things, and it’s one reason why scientists, including those who aren’t Democrats, are so disgusted with the Bush Administration.