The Corner

Who’s Anti-Science?

With a few exceptions, I think the most bogus lefty storyline, meme, narrative or whatever you want to call it of the Bush years has been the Republican “war” on science. Most of the charges strike me as tiffs over funding, or fights over social issues which the left wants to gussy-up as battles between reason, science and goodness on one side and superstitition, religious zealotry and badness on the other. The best example is embryonic stem cell research where the left wants the mantle of “science” all for itself, the better to dismiss anyone who disagrees with their values (i.e. not their science) as luddite lunkheads. In other words, one side thinks embryonic stem cells are research fodder the other side doesn’t. But the left calls the right “anti-science” not because pro-lifers don’t understand or accept the science, but because pro-lifers disagree on this particular use of science. From, the prolife perspective, it’s a bit like saying opposition to human experimentation is “anti-science.” Note: My own views on this are ill-formed and complex but not necessarily uniformly pro-life. But I don’t consider, say, Ramesh, anti-science simply because he doesn’t want to use a particular scientific technique.

Meanwhile, much of the left (though not necessarily most liberals) is thoroughly and routinely opposed to scientific advance, from the use of DDT and Golden Rice to opposition to nuclear power and food irradiation (See today’s great WSJ editorial on this). Pretty much all of these technologies, if persued, would save more lives, at least in the next couple decades, than fully funding embryonic stem cell research to Ronnie Reagan’s heart’s content. But the left stands in the way (while liberals let them) of all of this out of some mumbo-jumbo fear of technology or because they have special phobias about the direction of capitalism or because….I dunno why. But when I hear people say that the right is anti-science, I always want to ask “Yeah, as opposed to who?”

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