Amerika headed for theocracy?

This is something I wonder about off-an-on; with Happy Birthday, Charles! The Phytophactor has now put clearly the “doom” version:

There was a time in this country when policy was debated, but then politicians found out it was easier to deny the science rather than debate policy, and now the people who do the science are being demonized. If these ideologues have their way the USA will fall even further under the sway of fundamentalist theocrats, and thus our society will begin to converge on that of Islamic countries charging forward into the past, the distant past, the Dark Ages, at a time when fewer and fewer realize that embracing science is one of the few avenues to maintaining any type of competitive advantage internationally.

It does seem to me that the advantages of science are long-term, and that politicians (and not just politicians) find more advantage in denying science short-term (and this includes the odd folk over in WUWT-land, who actually think they are doing Blog Science, so are not anti-science in principle, indeed they think – possibly even honestly, some of them – that they are defending science. But they are deluded). Without long-sighted people in power / authority, I can’t really see why the long-term stuff should win out.

Refs

* Free speech and academic freedom
* Bronte Capital takes hope from the death of LightSquared

Comments

  1. #1 Hank Roberts
    2012/02/13

    Right on schedule, too.

    Nehemia Scudder supporters! Order your bumper sticker!

    Hat tip or perhaps genuflection to:
    http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

  2. #2 Steve Bloom
    2012/02/13

    Well, there is the minor issue of reality. OTOH that doesn’t seem to have helped short-term in the economics sphere.

  3. #3 Doug Cotton
    2012/02/13

    There is no systematic causal relationship between carbon dioxide levels and climate change simply because the greenhouse conjecture is not based on real world physics.

    [This is essentially a duplicate of stuff you posted before, at http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2012/02/grauniad_hangwringing.php#comment-6226842 I took the trouble to answer you there; you haven’t bothered respond. Please don’t just spam the same stuff again. The rest, Burrowed -W]

  4. #4 David B. Benson
    2012/02/13

    USA might split up into about 9 pieces. The theology types might have one or two of those.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nine_Nations_of_North_America

  5. #5 Phil Hays
    2012/02/14

    Jumping off of the top of Burj Khalifa, one can deny the reality of gravity for 13 seconds not counting wind resistance. Maybe twice that long including wind resistance. Regardless of how long you deny gravity on the way down, I hope you bothered to take a parachute.
    How long can climate change be denied? Thirty years? Fifty years?

  6. #6 Holly Stick
    2012/02/15

    Lots of money in denying climate change, as new evidence shows:

    http://skepticalscience.com/denialgate-heartland.html

  7. #7 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2012/02/15

    Over time the clear trend is that religion is having less influence over US policy not more. On social issues the country has steadily trended in a liberal direction. (By the way from my perspective this is all good.)

    Fewer and fewer Americans claim religious affiliation. When I was a kid inter-racial marriage was considered a sin. There was still segregation in the South. Gays were not even slightly out of the closet (now they can marry in several states). Jewish people were openly discriminated against in housing and employment. Abortion was illegal (for the most part I can’t remember all the details). Christian symbols were everywhere, and no one even considered that this might offend anyone. I sang Christian songs in my public elementary school. No one would consider burning the flag (although now that is passe)

    It is actually hard to find a counter example over any reasonable period of time. Many of these issues are a bit like the weather. There are short term variations, but to see the trends you need to look over a bit longer time frame.

    I will also point out that when I was a kid the smog in LA was so bad that you couldn’t see the hills from a few miles away, and some rivers were catching on fire. There was a huge debate between environmental “wackos” and economic progress. That was largely won by environmentalists (also a very good thing.)

    Action on global warming is at best being slightly impeded by skeptics. In my opinion the major issues are the lack of a central authority, and a lack of viable technical solutions.

    [Yes. These are all reasonable points. But they don’t explain the anti-science from the Republican side. Are you saying it was always there? -W]

  8. #8 Nicolas Nierenberg
    2012/02/16

    WMC,

    I was responding to this.

    “If these ideologues have their way the USA will fall even further under the sway of fundamentalist theocrats, and thus our society will begin to converge on that of Islamic countries charging forward into the past…”

    Which I feel completely is out of step with the actual trends.

    No it doesn’t explain the unscientific views of some Republicans. But I don’t think that has anything to do with religion really, just politics. (Maybe an exception is the view on evolution?)

    Democrats can be unscientific when they want as well. For example in opposition to Nuclear power, or genetically modified crops.

    [I take your point. Nonetheless, I find the anti-science rhetoric disturbing and (though I lack historical context) new -W]

  9. #9 Hank Roberts
    2012/02/18

    History as she is lived:
    “Imagine my surprise when I learned that all of these beliefs were less than two hundred years old. I was completely shocked…..
    …. my parents and the church I grew up in had taught me all of these ideas as gospel truth, and I had never had even an inkling that they were so new….”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/lovejoyfeminism/2012/02/17/the-end-times-part-vii-dispensationalist-premillenialisms-recent-origins/

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    2012/02/18

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  11. #11 Brian Schmidt
    2012/02/19

    The Rs were just as anti-science on the ozone hole as with climate. They and many coal-state Ds have denied air pollution problems for decades. Rachel Carson’s been pilloried for decades. Evolution’s been denied for just as long. Rs still can’t understand cost problems with nuclear power and reflexively think GMOs are 100% safe because some Ds think GMOs are 100% evil.

    I think these things ebb and flow, but it’s not truly different.

  12. #12 Matt McIrvin
    2012/02/28

    What’s happening right now is that American conservatism in the form it’s adopted since the 1970s (a movement based on the ressentiment of increasingly old white people) is doomed by long-term demographic trends, and is having an apocalyptic freakout as a result. While Jonathan Chait is sometimes a bit of a tool, he wrote a pretty good article about this recently:

    http://nymag.com/news/features/gop-primary-chait-2012-3/

    The movement still has enough power that it’s capable of obstructing progress and winning some battles, and convincing everyone else to look for some way to meet its insanity halfway. Unfortunately this prevents the US from doing anything intelligent about climate change, or several other important issues.

    Eventually, though, it’s going to have to change or die.

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