False equivalency is the refuge of those who fail to understand the difference between 0 and 1. Meaning, there's a lot of different differentness between having nothing of something, and having a totality of something.
One-tenth, for example, is a lot closer to zero than nine-tenths is. Yet this is just about how I see the anti-science biases of liberals and conservatives in the United States.
Sure, liberals have some wacky notions. Many think vaccines cause disease and that genetically modified foods are poison from Monsanto. (There may be some truth in both propositions, but not much.)
However, when we compare the anti-science craziness of liberals and conservatives, the weight of irrationality falls much more on the right-wing side of the political see-saw. Which is why I heartily disliked a recent article in New Scientist magazine that argued for an equivalency between the two.
In the most recent New Scientist issue, I was pleased to find two letters to the editor that took the authors of the article to task.
From Matt Ball
Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell write that "vilifying an entire philosophy based on the actions of its radical ideologues would be unfair" (2 February, p. 24). They then claim that "progressivism stands as the most pressing problem for science."
They seem to be living in a fantasy world where the "lunatic fringe" of the left has real power. Are lefties stopping stem cell research? Denying students knowledge of the basis for all modern biology? Denying women medical services? Condemning us all to a much hotter, extreme future? Passing laws outlawing basic maths and science?
It is so easy to "hippie punch", rather than take on the institutionalized and mainstream anti-science attitude of conservatives in the US.
Tucson, Arizona, US
From Anne Green
In the US, members of one political party deny basic physics (the effects of greenhouse gases), modern biology (evolution), geology (the age of the planet), astronomy (the age of the universe), physiology ("if it is a legitmate rape..."), sociology ("gays will destroy society!") and economics ("lower taxes mean more revenue").
This is a party whoe highest-ranking member on the House of Representatives Science Committee recently stated: "All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell."
What evidence do Berezow and Campbell submit to show that Democrats are more dangerous than the proudly anti-science Republicans? An attempt to put "green" utensils in the House cafeteria. And we wonder why people are so easily confused and manipulated, why so few can analyse arguments with reason and logic.
Tucson, Arizona, US