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GOP's evangelical base rejecting science, evolution (VIDEO)

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It seems that white evangelical base of the GOP is becoming less and less interested in science.

Perhaps inevitably, the American scientific community seems to be repaying them the favor. Only six percent of scientists now identify as Republican. That's an astounding development.

Given congress' attitude to their signature issues like global warming and stem cell research - and the threats to defund them - it seems that hostilities are only getting worse.

Fifty-eight percent of congressional Republicans now reject the reality of global warming. That startlingly high percentage becomes even more alarming when you consider how deeply congress helps shape policy and the national response to the issue.

Fully ninety seven percent of climatologists accept that global warming is a reality, but instead of responding to the global consensus, the GOP has, in fact, opposed every Democratic-led initiative to tackle climate change, from carbon taxes to regulation through the EPA.

One hundred and thirty one members of the Republican caucus do not accept the science behind climate change, and seventeen of them are on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Responding to the crisis would harm the nation’s economic growth they claim, so they simply refuse to countenance it. That's part of a decades long trend by the way. It used to be that the GOP was a threat to individual scientists working in certain areas, but in the last three decades it's exploded to the point where they are now a threat to science itself.

From climate change to public health issues like stem cell research, to sexual health, to the development of a cervical cancer vaccine it seems there is no issue that can't become a radioactive cultural football.

It began with the bottom line, of course. Where science has threatened to interfere with commerce Republicans have consistently taken the side of industry. When the Surgeon General argued that smoking caused cancer, the GOP hired waves of paid 'experts' to undermine the claims. Flushed with the success of delaying the inevitable by decades, this approach became the preferred method to attack scientific claims in the hope of puncturing consensus.

But for me the hundred year return to evolution, and the increasingly hostile attitude to that settled science, is the most disturbing barometer of all.

Fewer Republicans believe in evolution in 2014 than in 2009, a new Pew Research Center study has found. Forty-eight percent said they believe 'humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time,' which is up from thirty-nine percent in 2009.

Last year Georgia Congressman Paul Broun became a national celebrity when he appeared in a viral video calling evolution and the Big Bang theory 'lies from the pit of hell.'

That kind of rhetoric doesn't just spook scientists. It also shocks moderate voters who despair of the the GOP's lurch to the right. It's not just the 21st century – the party seems to be abandoning the 20th and the 19th too.

Like the main unionist parties in Northern Ireland this week, Republicans increasingly look like they will not embrace any substantive philosophical, scientific or political change that seems to threaten their ideology and their power.

Until you can sail from New York to San Francisco through what used to be the midwest, that looks unlikely to change.

 

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