Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Culture War has been won


This selfie of Bill Nye the Science Guy, President Barack Obama and Neil deGrasse Tyson is a real thing. It wins the Awesome People Hanging Out Together Award for 2014, for sure. Close that contest down. It was over on Feb. 28.

But this picture rules for an even more important reason. Think about the collective brainpower in it. Two of America's leading figures of popular science along with the president, who is a Harvard-educated former professor of constitutional law. 

Contrast that to the CPAC, the annual conservative conference that just ended. CPAC featured most of the heavy hitters of today's Republican Party, as well as a Rhino Records-worthy compilation of past superstars. Even with that concentration of conservative talent, could they pull off an equivalent selfie? 

Not a chance. They're still too busy promoting Sarah Palin as a keynote speaker. And arguing that climate change is a fake problem cooked up by people who want to cripple businesses. And insisting that women don't deserve equal pay and can ask for rape. And who think so little of science that they want to replace it with unquantifiable myths in schools — schools they want to gut if public but bankroll generously if private, no matter how unaccountable. 

We need science, and people who value it. Science is about collecting and evaluating data, arriving at conclusions and being able to change those conclusions as evidence warrants. It's about a march toward progress and understanding — truly understanding — the world around us, so that perhaps we learn to deal with our problems before they become insurmountable.

Our leaders don't have to hold doctorates in astrophysics, but they should at least subscribe to this century.

So, yes, this photo is awesome. But you know what would be even more awesome? If both major political parties were capable of it. That would be a credit to America's collective intelligence.

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