Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Avoidance on Evolution question exposes Walker's problem with science

When it comes to science, Gov. Walker leaves it to the "experts" -- his donor base

Though he had taken great pains to prevent unwanted questions from the foreign press, Scott Walker couldn’t prevent questions in at least one forum: the Q&A section from the event he was scheduled to speak at.

Walker was asked a question about the issue of evolution, and whether he himself was “comfortable” with the idea:
"I'm going to punt on that one as well," Walker responded.

The likely 2016 presidential candidate said he didn't think it was an appropriate question to answer during a trade mission to the United Kingdom, adding, "that's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or another."
Maybe the question wasn’t relevant to the topics being discussed in the forum. But Walker is purposely dodging controversy, an action that doesn’t coincide with his supposed “leadership” mantra.

Later on, Walker tried to clear up his statement:
"Both science and my faith dictate my belief that we are created by God," Walker's statement said. "I believe faith and science are compatible, and go hand in hand."
A Walker spokesman declined to elaborate on whether that statement meant he believed in evolution.

Why is this important? Why should Walker answer this question? The topic of evolution exposes a deeper issue, on whether the governor accepts scientific reasoning as factual or something to ignore. If he says he doesn’t feel comfortable with evolution, it shows that he’s willing to push aside scientific discovery in favor of his religious beliefs. If he says he is comfortable with it, it will undoubtedly make his base uncomfortable with him.

Avoiding the issue completely, however, has a third outcome: it alienates everyone. His core base won’t respect the answer because, as a supposed “leader,” he should answer strongly that he opposes evolution; and those that support science won’t be happy because it’s clearly an answer meant to avoid accepting evolution as fact without saying so.

We know, however, that Walker doesn’t respect science one bit. His refusal to say something on evolution is just the latest episode in a series of anti-scientific statements and actions, which include requiring studying the effects of windmills on human health (despite scientific studies already suggesting that no detrimental effects exist), signing onto “no climate” tax pledges, and seeking to remove a recycling mandate in his 2011 budget proposal.

The bottom line is this: Walker will take whatever action on science his donors deems best. That includes putting our natural resources at risk, going to great lengths to do so including allowing companies with questionable environmental records to write legislation favorable to their profit margins.

This is unconscionable. So is the disregard of evolution as scientific fact. Personal beliefs aside, Walker should respect the teaching of evolution in the science classrooms. That’s where it belongs, after all, regardless of anyone’s personal opinions on the matter.

What does Walker’s non-answer do to enhance education across Wisconsin? Like many of his other recent decisions, it lessens the importance of growing knowledgeable minds in the state. Science, like education itself lately, stands in the way of some of Walker’s biggest donors.

We can’t have that, now can we?

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