The Sciences

Rush Limbaugh's War on Science

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyDec 10, 2009 12:19 PM

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Rush is ticked because everybody told him to be afraid of swine flu, and now it turns out that as pandemics go, the current strain of swine flu is probably less like a category 3 hurricane, and more like a category 1 or tropical storm. So what does Rush do? He blames the scientists:

We are the targets of lies, damn lies and science and scientists are rapidly becoming as trustworthy as politicians.

Actually, at first it was hard to say how dangerous H1N1 was going to be. Lots of rapid-fire research had to be conducted; the scientists were working their butts off to protect us, and to clarify the picture. Sure, there was some exaggeration, especially from the press--but what do you expect in such a situation of fear and uncertainty? But Rush doesn't get the whole uncertainty thing; he speaks, idiotically, of a "phony swine flu virus." Ask the people who died of swine flu whether it was phony. The point, which scientists understand but which Rush apparently does not, is that whenever we have a new strain we need to be worried about it--and even if we were relatively lucky with the current strain of swine flu, we are not always going to dodge the bullet. That Rush uses swine flu to beat up on scientists in this way just shows how little he understands of science--how difficult it is to conduct in real time with lives at stake, and how important it is to ensuring our public health and safety.

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