Sunday, April 10, 2005

If All That Is Holy Were Profaned. . . .

Paul Krugman asks why "studies that find registered Republicans in the minority at elite universities show that Republicans are almost as rare in hard sciences like physics and in engineering departments as in softer fields [of the humanities and social sciences]" ("An Academic Question," New York Times 5 Apr. 2005). Krugman answers his own question by pointing out that, "[t]oday, even Republicans like Representative Chris Shays concede that it has become the 'party of theocracy'" and that, in the view of Republicans like Dennis Baxley, for a professor to say that "evolution is a fact" is an example of totalitarianism in academia (Krugman, 5 Apr. 2005).

A soft-line centrist view that seeks to reconcile creationism and evolution -- the view that "[h]uman beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process," held by 37% of Americans in 2001 (Deborah Jordan Brooks/Gallup, "Substantial Numbers of Americans Continue to Doubt Evolution as Explanation for Origin of Humans," 5 Mar. 2001) as well as theologians of mainline Protestant denominations -- shouldn't be an obstacle to pursuit of science; but a hard-line conservative view that "God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so," which 45% of Americans said they espoused (Brooks, 5 Mar. 2001), is -- and rightly so.

Right-wing views on politics and economy shouldn't require faith in hard-line creationism, though, so secular intellectuals on the Right, who profess to be concerned about the dearth of conservatives in science, ought to reclaim American conservatism from religious fundamentalists and secularize it. But there are few signs that secular rightists have found an odd couple of anti-Darwinist scientific belief and social-Darwinist economic policy, which together make up the dominant ideology of the Right, to be in need of quick divorce.

As for the ruling class, they have a large pool of well-educated and yet relatively inexpensive scientific labor in China, India, and Eastern Europe at their disposal, so they see no reason to worry about a potential negative impact of the Right's crusade against science on the state of R&D. Besides, if all that is solid melted into air and all that is holy were profaned, workers might at last be compelled to face with sober senses their real conditions of life, and their relations with their kind.

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