It is hard to know exactly when it became acceptable for U.S. politicians to be antiscience. For some two centuries science was a preeminent force in American politics, and scientific innovation has been the leading driver of U.S. economic growth since World War II. Kids in the 1960s gathered in school cafeterias to watch moon launches and landings on televisions wheeled in on carts. Breakthroughs in the 1970s and 1980s sparked the computer revolution and a new information economy. Advances in biology, based on evolutionary theory, created the biotech industry. New research in genetics is poised to transform the understanding of disease and the practice of medicine, agriculture and other fields.
The Founding Fathers were science enthusiasts. Thomas Jefferson, a lawyer and scientist, built the primary justification for the nation’s independence on the thinking of Isaac Newton, Francis Bacon and John Locke—the creators of physics, inductive reasoning and empiricism. He called them his “trinity of three greatest men.” If anyone can discover the truth by using reason and science, Jefferson reasoned, then no one is naturally closer to the truth than anyone else. Consequently, those in positions of authority do not have the right to impose their beliefs on other people. The people themselves retain this inalienable right. Based on this foundation of science—of knowledge gained by systematic study and testing instead of by the assertions of ideology—the argument for a new, democratic form of government was self-evident.
Yet despite its history and today’s unprecedented riches from science, the U.S. has begun to slip off of its science foundation. Indeed, in this election cycle, some 236 years after Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, several major party contenders for political office took positions that can only be described as “antiscience”: against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more. A former Republican governor even warned that his own political party was in danger of becoming “the antiscience party.”
Such positions could typically be dismissed as nothing more than election-year posturing except that they reflect an anti-intellectual conformity that is gaining strength in the U.S. at precisely the moment that most of the important opportunities for economic growth, and serious threats to the well-being of the nation, require a better grasp of scientific issues. By turning public opinion away from the antiauthoritarian principles of the nation’s founders, the new science denialism is creating an existential crisis like few the country has faced before.
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A large number of major party contenders for political office this year took antiscience positions against evolution, human-induced climate change, vaccines, stem cell research, and more.
Such positions are surprising because the economy is such a big factor in this election, and half the economic growth since World War II can be traced to innovations in science and technology.
Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum have been guilty of science denialism. But the Republican version is particularly dangerous because it attacks the validity of science itself.
U.S. voters must push candidates and elected officials to express their views on the major science questions facing the nation or risk losing out to those countries with reality-based policies.
How long a work day would you need to put in at a minimum wage job to pay federal income taxes? Because it’s Romney’s comment, let’s use his family profile. We’ll have two parents, one of whom works.1 And let’s limit it to two children rather than Romney’s five to avoid an…
At a closed-door fundraiser, Mitt Romney jokes he’d be winning the election if he were Latino.
Are you fucking kidding me?
CNN has its “Dewey defeats Truman” moment. Fox News just has a moment.
As a young parent whose child will be attending public school for the next decade, I am going to vote for someone who knows public education is important for our communities and our country. Private education is great for those who can afford it, but it doesn’t give conservatives the right to dismantle our school systems.
IF YOU ARE THE KIND OF GARDENER who buys vegetable seeds or seedlings (including tomato plants) from a local garden center, as I sometimes do, beware the varieties you select. Otherwise, you could very well be putting money into the hands of the wretched Monsanto Corporation. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Here is the list of Seminis/Monsanto home-garden vegetable varieties, and yes, it even includes zucchini:
I’m going to print out this list, and keep a copy in my wallet. This way I won’t be caught off-guard the next time I decide to impulse-shop at a big-box garden center:
Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema
Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman
Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty
Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III
Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman
Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76*, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega
Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening
Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz
Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador
Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno
Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision
Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster
Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM
Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation
Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot
Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui
Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia
* Marketmore 76 is a very old cucumber-variety. If you are ordering it from a seller of heirloom veggies, check with the dealer to make sure the seeds were not purchased from Seminis/Monsanto. If you buy the seeds from a big-box garden center, odds are they were purchased from the evil empire.
That’s quite a catalog, huh? No wonder Monsanto paid $1.4 billion in cash to acquire it.
Don’t be embarrassed if you’ve inadvertently planted some of these varieties in your garden. As you might recall, one summer I innocently planted ‘Early Girl’ tomatoes. Believe me, I won’t be casting that vote again.
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