Moment of Truth

So climate skeptics of all stripes have an opportunity to demonstrate just how highly they value sound science. As the NY Times reports today, religious conservatives are hitching their anti-evolution agenda to the anti-AGW bandwagon.

Now, as the readers of Climate Depot, Planet Gore, Watts Up With That, Reason’s Hit & Run, and Tom Nelson well know, the evidence for evolution is indisputable.  As the Times puts it, “there is no credible challenge” to Darwin’s theory. Yet there persists this movement among Christian conservatives to teach Intelligent Design alongside evolution in public schools. Recent court rulings have blunted those efforts, so creationists are trying a new tack by linking up with climate skeptics.

Since climate skeptics often talk about the need for sound science in the climate debate, I’m looking forward to reading in the aforementioned blogs about their distress at being co-opted by religious, anti-science ideologues.

UPDATE: Randy Olson, in a recent interview with Marc Morano, elicits this:

RO: Are you an anti-evolutionist?

MM: Haha, not at all.  In fact, you know it’s not an issue.  The implication of your question is that somehow the skeptics are aligned with creationists.  In all my years of dealing with Senator Inhofe the subject of creationism and evolution never even came up.  Someone even did an analysis of it in our scientists report, and I think they may have only found one or two creationists out of 700-some names.

Is Marc Morano a Darwinian evolutionist? If so, that would certainly put him at odds with his former employer, Senator Inhofe.

UPDATE: Kate Sheppard at the Blue Marble has a little fun with the emerging union between climate skeptics and anti-evolutionists:

Why stop at joining climate and evolution? Surely gravity and western medicine can’t be far behind in the firing line for the “teach the controversy” crowd.

5 Responses to “Moment of Truth”

  1. AMac says:

    Evolution is the central unifying concept of biology.  At the cutting edge of science (medicine too), evolution informs the search for insights, and helps power hypothesis generation.  Without it, much of biology degenerates into a collection of disjointed facts.  That said, the science <i>isn’t</i> settled.  There’s still a great deal to learn about the mechanisms of evolution.

    In climatology, I’ve looked at the “hockey stick” paleotemperature reconstructions enough to see that the science has major weaknesses.  Debate is constrained, and glaring problems are left unaddressed.  Whatever the reasons — careerism? groupthink? — they speak very poorly of the field and of its practitioners.

    The modern instrumental record clearly shows a warming planet, 1850-present.  There are problems with the data and the methodology, but the overall conclusion–warming–seems indisputable.  The physics of the heat-trapping effects of rising [CO2] is indisputable, so a connection between that and the temperature changes is reasonable.  Even if the extent to which CO2-driven forcing is accompanied by other factors isn’t fully known.  Here too, the science isn’t settled.

    That’s one skeptical person’s view.

  2. ScottB says:

    There is no credible controversy with the overall theory of evolution.  There is with the specifics of AGW as it relates to policy formulation.  Those people trying to promote AGW policies are using the same scare tactics the Republicans used to get us into a useless war in Iraq.

    That said, as politicized as the AGW debate is and with the recent success AGW skeptics have had in the public arena, it’s inevitable that the nuts of the right will come out and try to attach their issues with the AGW debate.  I don’t like it, but I can’t do much other than tell the creationists to go play in their own sandbox and not vote for a single person that’s even sympathetic to them.

    I also don’t get the update posted.  Why tie all these separate issues together unless one just wants to score political points.  I don’t think anyone disputes the existence of gravity.  We can predict its effect fairly precisely.  We don’t really know the exact mechanism that causes it though.  With medicine, I would hope people are skeptical initially.  There have been many instances where perscribed medicines end up causing problems.  Also, there’s a good chance people, in general, are over medicated today.  That said, if this is referring to the anti-vaccination people, there’s little to no evidence of the autism link while there’s more than enough evidence that vaccines have basically erradicated many long ago widespread illnesses.  So they can go find their own sandbox also.

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    ScottB,

    Yeah, that MoJo update was not germane to my post, so perhaps I shouldn’t have included it.

    Glad to hear you have no problem telling creationists to play in their own sandbox. I’m also glad to hear your thoughts on the anti-vaccine agenda. I’ve been vocal about that too.

  4. AMac says:

    Circling back from Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog post.

    Keith, while I agree with your views on evolution and creationism, I am closer to Skeptic than AGW Consensus adherent on global warming.  So I get to ask, *what* moment of truth am I supposed to be experiencing?

    Lots of people have goofy ideas about lots of things.  You think skeptics are obliged to do battle with these particular people (creationists) over their particular desires (to harness the Climategate etc. scandals for their creationist purposes).

    Let’s you and him fight.

    I think AGW Consensus proponents should be resisting Prof. Mike Mann’s placement at the center of the scientific-freedom-of-inquiry debate.  Because I think some of his science is demnstrably weak, and weak science leads to bad policy.

    There, now you have *my* version of a Moment of Truth (aka “let’s you and him fight”) to chew on.

  5. Keith Kloor says:

    I cop to a goofy headline. But I wasn’t looking for anyone to do battle. I guess I was just looking to see if climate skeptics were put off by the creationist tactic.

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