Perry's skepticism on science


Weeks after officially entering the presidential race, Gov. Rick Perry has wasted little time in closing ranks with most of his Republican colleagues by expressing his personal skepticism of certain established scientific facts.

Perry has called evolution a theory that has “some holes in it.” His stated position squares well with the views of likely Republican voters but flouts two centuries of scientific thought. In its place, he offers an ostensibly humble but ultimately defeatist view that perhaps humans cannot know everything. His apparent opinion is that we should therefore not even try.

His position on climate change is more damaging. Far from questioning the general idea on theoretical — or theological — grounds, he has accused what amounts to almost the entire climate science community of fabricating data to scare the public into funding frivolous research to keep their jobs. The alleged conspiracy is so vast as to discredit it outright.

Perry’s high-octane brand of “my-knowledge-is-as-good-as-your-ignorance” anti-intellectualism should alarm anyone who values the objective pursuit of knowledge. And his recent attacks on the institutional independence of UT and Texas A&M complete the picture of a candidate perfectly willing to subject scholarship to politics. That should profoundly frighten any member of a university community.