About a year before the pandemic killed millions of people and crushed our souls, a team of scientists made an historic announcement. They had succeeded in capturing the first image of a black hole, about 55 million light years away.
Of course, right-wingers ranted how it was all faked and that black holes don’t really exist and that the scientists were liars and…
OK, that didn’t actually happen. Aside from a few Christian conservatives who think astronomy is an affront to God, nobody got offended or conspiratorial about this scientific breakthrough. And the reason is simple. A picture of a black hole didn’t threaten anyone’s political viewpoint. Therefore, it was legitimate science.
But doctors asking us to get vaccinated? Fools.
Climate scientists urging us to address global warming? Scam artists.
If the Republican Party were consistently anti-science, they would at least possess a coherent philosophy. Instead we get ad hoc nonsense, based upon the arbitrary hostility of those select few conservatives who are brilliant at convincing millions of Americans to be afraid, angry, or both.
For example, why did refusing to wear a mask become a conservative badge of honor? I hear it was something about freedom or small government or personal responsibility or, well, who even knows anymore. The point is that Republicans decided that, in this case, science is not to be trusted. And here we are.
Of course, every political ideology has contradictions and exceptions. But most people try to maintain some semblance of integrity or limit their rationalizations.
However, the Republican Party has no problem with overt hypocrisy and the easy dismissal of their faux values. This is why government spending warranted protests in the street during the Obama era, but was completely irrelevant when Trump ran up record debt, and is once again the biggest crisis in the world now that Biden is president.
Indeed, even many Republicans are admitting that the term “conservative” doesn’t mean a damn thing anymore.
So when it comes to science, conservatives do not acknowledge the inherent absurdity of shrieking at medical professionals for being corrupt, and then begging those same doctors and nurses for help when the virus hits their lungs.
Conservatives do not pause for reflection when they rant on the internet via their smartphone how much they hate tech companies and distrust technology.
There is no conservative self-awareness over dismissing the FDA, then lauding a horse drug because a couple of vague studies implied it might not kill you.
Anti-science is not a conservative principle, because they have no principles beyond blind rage and whatever the hell Trump says he likes this week.
Instead, conservatives will latch on to those few scraps of scientific data that support their ill-defined goals, and reject all the science (and the very idea of the scientific method) when it disproves their random agenda—which, let’s face it, is most of the time.
It’s the inverse of the taunt that conservatives throw at Christians such as Biden, which is that one cannot be a Cafeteria Catholic, just picking and choosing portions of religious dogma that you like. By the way, this jab was always odd, in that the vast majority of religious people pick and choose aspects of their religion that they like, but that’s another story.
In any case, it must be horrific to live in a world where every objective fact is subject to denial, and every scientific truth is judged on whatever shaky “conservative” principle can be conjured up to dismiss it. But what do I know—I’m a progressive who believes in science, even if it tells me something I would rather not hear.
One last bit of science for you, in honor of the approaching baseball post-season. A recent study has shown that major league umpires discriminate against non-white players: “White umpires gave more favorable calls to White players.” The study offers another example of how racism is ingrained in every aspect of American life, and the research has renewed interest in the possibility of robot umpires replacing human umps.
Yes, robot umpires.
If that is not crazy cool science, then I don’t know what is.
Featured image: “blue robot” by peyri is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0