11/3/08

Contempt All Around

Christopher Hitchens takes the McCain campaign to task for their active distaste for scientific endeavor. Here he is, tsk, tksing McCain's grizzly bear faux pas:
Sen. John McCain has made repeated use of an anti-waste and anti-pork ad in which the expenditure of $3 million to study the DNA of grizzly bears in Montana was derided as "unbelievable." As an excellent article in the Feb. 8, 2008, Scientific American pointed out, there is no way to enforce the Endangered Species Act without getting some sort of estimate of numbers, and the best way of tracking and tracing the elusive grizzly is by setting up barbed-wire hair-snagging stations that painlessly take samples from the bears as they lumber by and then running the DNA samples through a laboratory.
Hitchens' assertions about the witlessness of this tactic allude to a deeper truth: there is a growing culture in this country that is opposed to science. Something tells me statements like this might be part of the problem:
Those who despise science and learning are not anti-elitist. They are morally and intellectually slothful people who are secretly envious of the educated and the cultured.
Hitchens' spotless prose is a pleasure to read, but I doubt this line of argument is going to convert any religious readers.

Whoever wins on Tuesday will have a lot of mending to do. Let's hope the candidates are prepared to offer a third-way on the tired old contest between religion and science. Not only should these modes of inquiry not be mutually exclusive, but the present form of the debate is a tug of war that no one wins.

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