The Know Nothing Party Defies Gravity, Wins Elections?

So it’s driving me (slightly) crazy to read the idiocy coming out of Rick Perry’s mouth, echoed by a chorus of other Republican presidential contenders. Paul Krugman in the NY Times sums up their anti-science idiocy well here:

What strikes me most? These Republicans are only anti-science when it conflicts with their half-baked “business is God” dogma: Give them an iPad, a nuclear reactor, that Facebook account by which they’ll promote their campaigns, and they’re more than happy to use it, even to kick off “technology” funds to fill the pockets of their friends with profits of government subsidies and contracts, as Perry is noted for doing. But evolution and climate change are crackpot theories, according to them. Why? Because it would conflict with their conservative Christian voters (who I’d say are smarter than that, hopefully), and their business cronies.
What scares me, and what should scare the country, is that somehow the electorate doesn’t see their contradictions. We could well have a Republican president next term. I don’t see Obama as perfect. I agree with others that he should fight harder for environmental concerns, which right now is usually doomed because each choice we face, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, gets labeled as “anti-business” or “anti-jobs” if you oppose it. (Which we should.) So, yes, he needs more of a backbone. But he’s trying to do the right thing.
In Tim Flannery’s excellent new book of nonfiction, Here On Earth, he discusses the idea of Future Discount. Basically it’s how people will often discount or dismiss things we can foresee in the future, like climate change, for a variety of reasons. Often those encompass a Willing Suspension of Disbelief, to use Coleridge’s dictum about storytelling. We want to believe climate change won’t greatly harm the world, so in spite of all the evidence scientists are offering that it will, we ignore them. We shouldn’t. And here’s why: My daughter, Lili, will be 44 years old at mid-century, when many scientists claim our climate change problem will be irreversible. And all the other sons and daughters of the world.

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