Rick Santorum and Science: Bad Combination!

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As Republican primary season schizophrenia continues, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum is now in the spotlight, having very nearly beaten Mitt Romney in Iowa. So what do we people who care about science, and global warming in particular, know about Santorum?

Whoa boy.

None of the Republican candidates, with the possible exception of pro-science Tweeter Jon Huntsman, have distinguished themselves as science allies. Even sometime moderate Mitt Romney famously flip-flopped and cast doubt on human caused global warming; Rick Perry, meanwhile, thinks climate researchers are making it all up.

But Santorum? Arguably, his attacks on science surpass all of theirs.

Santorum, let us not forget, not only denies evolution, but has been an active anti-evolutionist in the past. In other words, he has made attacking fundamental scientific knowledge a key priority.

In 2002, Santorum wrote an op-ed calling the doctrine of “intelligent design” (ID) “a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.” He even pushed an amendment to the 2001 education bill to support ID. For more on Santorum’s anti-evolution advocacy, see here.

On global warming, meanwhile, Santorum isn’t just a science denier. He goes far beyond many climate “skeptics” and actually argued, in a 2008 op-ed, that “global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10”!

Needless to say, Santorum is also a big opponent of embryonic stem cell research.

Perhaps even more disturbing than these stances however, is a broader way of thinking on Santorum’s part. Consider this passage from the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, reporting on some completely fact-free remarks by Santorum in Iowa:

In Perry, Santorum gave his opinion that President Obama was more of a divisive figure than Richard Nixon, keeper of the enemies list: “I suspect President Nixon, although I don’t know, would talk and work with people and wouldn’t go out and demonize them as this president has done.” Santorum doesn’t know it, but that doesn’t stop him from asserting it.

At the same stop, he played loose with the facts when contrasting Ronald Reagan’s vacation schedule with Obama’s.

I don’t know if it’s true, but somebody told me this,” he began, “that Ronald Reagan never left the White House at Christmas, and the reason was he wanted all the staff to be able to spend that time at home.”

check of the record would have revealed to Santorum that in 1988, Reagan was in Los Angeles during Christmas, and that he spent the week after nearly every Christmas (and more than a year of his presidency) in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Reading this, I would say at minimum that Santorum would appear to lack accuracy motives.

Pundits are saying that the GOP race may now be down to Santorum and Romney, and speculating that social conservatives may, at last, have found their candidate.

If so, we should probably prepare for regular bursts of unreality, at least up through the New Hampshire primary.

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