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The Sciences

Galileo and the Tea Party

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneySeptember 12, 2011 11:41 PM

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472px-Justus_Sustermans_-_Portrait_of_Galileo_Galilei_1636-236x300.jpg

I've done my latest DeSmogBlog piece on the Rick Perry Galileo flap. I say a lot, but I particularly liked this part of it:

The misuse and abuse of Galileo’s story, in other words, is a case study in how people reason about history—just as they do with science—in a biased, motivated way, seeking to cast themselves as the good guys, the victors, and their foes as the opposite. And once you see things in this way, you realize there’s a very close analogy in our politics to the Perry-Galileo flap. Climate “skeptics” invoking Galileo is really quite a lot like right wingers calling themselves the “Tea Party.” The great architects of the United States—Jefferson, Franklin, Madison—were men of reason and the Enlightenment, just as Galileo was a man of the Scientific Revolution. They were freethinkers and, in Jefferson’s and Franklin’s case, scientists and inventors. And they didn’t want religion shoved down anybody’s throat. And yet we now find a movement in America that wants more religion in politics, and that rejects science on climate change and evolution alike, trying to claim the mantle of the country’s founding. Rick Perry’s invocation of Galileo, then, is much more than merely ridiculous. It gives us quite the window on the right wing mind, and demonstrates just how much it has managed to turn reality upside-down. Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength…and Galileo and Rick Perry ride off together into the Texas sunset.

Full piece here.

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