Monday, September 01, 2008

Smarter Emperors, Please

On the surface, you wouldn't think that a poltician's opinions about evolution versus creationsim would matter all that much. For me, though, it's a deal killer. Creationism, at least the kind that subscribes to the idea that a supernatural entity created everything just as it is and that nothing evolves, is for me one of a number of important indicia of (a) stupidity or (b) cynical pandering by someone who knows better. I'm not saying that you have to buy into evolutionary theory whole hog or that you have to demonstrate competency in it. I just want my political leaders to be smart enough to know how science works, what scientists mean by a theory. These days, a lot of policy decisions call for at least a rudimentary understanding of the canons science and an appreciation of what the scientific method entails. A politician who lacks that is suspect and then some.

Also, I want political leaders to understand that factual assertions about the world and normative assertions about what one ought to do are not the same kind of assertions. If one says that "human life begins at [pick your point]" as a factual matter, it does not follow that this assertion has any normative or public policy implications whatsoever. You might, in the alternative, say something like "human life, for the purposes of assigning civil rights, begins at [pick your point]", and this would be a perfectly cromulent normative assertion on which public policy might be based. If you don't know the difference between factual and normative assertions and the implications thereof, you are too stupid to lead.

Moreover, I want political leaders who understand that all normative assertions are ultimately arbitrary and that religious beliefs are entirely subjective and irrational.

Why do I, a self professed anarchist, want smarter political leaders? I reckon that the smarter ones are marginally less likley to get me killed and more likley to grant me more free rein as a human being than the dolts.


James Leroy Wilson said...

I would place greater trust in a creationist politician who understands that the Tenth Amendment prohibits federal funding for science and education, than a more well-reasoned scientist who doesn't care one whit for the legal limits of the federal government.

And it is the very fact that "mainstream" scientists beg for unconstitutional federal funds that make me doubt the validity of their work. After all, in that instance, they are not at the service of Truth, but rather in the service of "whatever it takes to get even more federal grant money."

You may respond, "But, as we've seen with Falwell, Huckabee et. al., the creationists don't understand the Constitution either." Maybe so, but I know some people who are both creationists and, if not anarchists, very nearly so. In a way, I respect their religous/scientific beliefs all the more because I respect their political judgments.

Vache Folle said...


The creationist politician of sound political judgment sounds like a unicorn to me. They might well hate education and science and cut funding for it under the guise of the 10th amendment, but they are just as likely to forget about the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Consistent constitutional interpretation is not likely to be their strong suit.

By the way, I consider myself a creationist in the sense that I belive that God created the universe. I just don't believe he did it 6,000 years ago and planted fossils to mess with our minds.

And creatonism is not a "scientific" belief. I can respect it as a religious belief just as I am obliged to respect them all, what with their all being equally irrational, but I don't think I could trust him as a political leader.

James Leroy Wilson said...

As I said, there are creationists who are also Constitutionalists and libertarians, and they are to be preferred over those who would steal my money for their scientific research.

Vache Folle said...

I didn't say I wanted a scientist as leader, just someone who understood science.