Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Science and politics

Get thee over to the New York Times and read Paul Krugman’s latest piece on the ossification of Republican “thinking” into the sort of lock-step conformism one associates with theocracies. I found the parallels between Krugman’s piece and this short post by the Mad Biologist quite interesting. Both note the increasingly Lysenkoist attitudes of the Republican party towards science and scientists.

For those unfamiliar with Lysenko and Lysenkoism, I’d point you to this Wikipedia article as a good starting point. Suffice to say, he was a Soviet “scientist” in the early 20s who used the Soviet propaganda machine to politicize agricultural science and bury (figuratively and literally, at times) those scientists doing sound research in Mendelian genetics.

In any case, the fact that Republicans are beginning to pass bills that allow students to sue professors for teaching topics they disagree with certainly suggests a rejection of the academy, of reason, and of the principles that underlie most of the advances made over the past two hundred years in science and the humanities. Moreover, I think its fairly ironic (or perhaps not) that these are often the same Republicans who want to “reform” our tort system. So, rather than clog up the courts with cases that, ultimately, will protect citizens, they wish to clog up the courts with cases that will protect their regressive and reactionary political theories.

Anyway, I expect that we’ll see further developments along these lines in the coming years. Republicans have embraced a culture of domination, and clearly seem bent on controlling all aspects of our society, our politics and even our discourse. Whether they succeed, I think, will be a function of whether Americans agree with or reject their totalitarian and anti-modernist tendencies.