The Left has voiced plenty of criticism of McCain and Palin’s policies, but one facet of the Republican ticket that has been tragically left alone is its anti-science stance, says MIT researcher John Tirman.
Tirman reiterates the Republican candidates’ resistance to stem-cell research and evolution, and their support for offshore and ANWR drilling. But he takes things one step further, going beyond the moral implications of these policies to look at the problem from an economic point of view.
First of all, in order to compete with flourishing markets like those in Asia, the United States must continue its tradition of innovation and scientific excellence. Without it, “hopes for creating the new technologies and processes that fuel sustainable economic activity will surely decline.” Secondly, scientific research offers solutions to crucial problems such as disease and fossil-fuel dependency, and without the necessary funding for advances in technology, our ability to solve these problems would come to a standstill (a dilemma about which Utne.com has previously blogged). Lastly, scientists from other countries would eschew an anti-science United States in favor of a more tolerant community in which to conduct their research, circling back to the author’s first point about scientific excellence being “the font of prosperity.”
We ignore these issues at our own peril, insists Tirman. “The McCain/Palin shakiness on science issues is not just another occasion for SNL skits or jokes about the U.S. being the laughing stick [sic] of the world. They're life-and-death issues for global health and ecology, as well as our own well being.”