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The Sciences

Santorum Can't Run Away from ID

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJanuary 26, 2006 7:21 PM

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It has been widely noted that U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who's in electoral trouble in 2006, has been distancing himself from his old buddies in the ID movement. Santorum has flip flopped on the closely linked questions of whether ID counts as science and whether it should be taught in public school classes, and he's backed away from the Dover case (which was set in his home state). But Santorum isn't going to get off that easy. The senator's close ties to the ID movement remain, and they're fully in evidence at this link. It goes to the Amazon.com page for a forthcoming book celebrating the work of ID movement progenitor Phillip E. Johnson. The book is titled, Darwin's Nemesis: Phillip Johnson And the Intelligent Design Movement. Who wrote the foreword? Why, Rick Santorum.

I have long thought that, if science supporters want a political scalp, Santorum ought to be on their top list of targets. He's a strong sympathizer with anti-evolutionists, and thus on the wrong side of what is easily the most clear-cut political science issue of the day. Moreover, he's politically vulnerable. If Santorum goes down and scientists in Pennsylvania have rallied against him (something I've seen no evidence of as yet), presumably they can then claim some of the credit. And that, in turn, might deter future politicians from supporting anti-science causes.

Of course, if Santorum is dead anyway politically, it may not count as much of a victory. But the experience might nevertheless teach scientists a thing or two about engaging in politics in defense of scientific integrity and, especially, the theory of evolution. When it comes to politics, scientists really are in need of basic training.

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