I'm reluctant to talk about the presidential candidates. Most Americans are probably sick of hearing about it by now, thanks to the media's relentless coverage. I know I am! Although I'm not a Republican, I am concerned by the increasing trend of openly disregarding science, and it was heartening to find that I am not alone in my worries.
Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann both deny the reality of evolution. Both also believe that global warming is made up. Bachmann famously declared that since carbon dioxide was a product of nature, it couldn't possibly cause climate change.
Why do they hold these views? In regards to evolution, I understand that they have religious beliefs that contradict it. As misguided and ignorant as creationism is, I know that the greatest victims of it are the creationists themselves. Global climate change, however, differs in that it affects every living being on the planet. I'm unaware of any religious objections, but I suspect the money would lead back to businesses that benefit from the use of fossil fuels.
Despite the actual reasons for their apparent skepticism on the issues of evolution and global climate change, the candidates are quick to blame scientists. Somehow, scientists are allegedly conspiring to hide evidence in order to advance their own interests. Therefore, scientists cannot be trusted, in the view of the religious Republican candidates.
I believe this sort of paranoid delusion comes from what psychologists call 'projection', in which one attributes one's own undesirable traits to others. Scientists are not a very homogenous group, yet they are treated as conspiratorial partners; religious groups tend to be composed of people with similar worldviews and lifestyles. Hiding evidence and lying to suit a personal agenda? The competitiveness of science practically guarantees that any sort of falsehood or obfuscation will be caught. Religion, however, is based on faith, which means that evidence is largely irrelevant.
Strangely enough, the Mormon candidates are the most supportive of science. Jon Huntsman openly declared that he trusts scientists. Mitt Romney believes in evolution, but is very clear about stating he believes that it was started and guided by his God; he also believes that measures are needed to compensate for climate change, suggesting that he also trusts scientists. The Mormon church seems to be happy to leave science to the scientists, and to concentrate on faith in the church. As commonly maligned as Mormons are, I was honestly surprised to find out how reasonable and rational their official position on science is.
To quickly sum up the 2012 Republican presidential candidates, the Christians are crazy but the Mormons reside in reality. Who would've guessed?