By Michael Yudell
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida was in Iowa over the weekend reminding us, less than two weeks after Election 2012, that Election 2016 (less than 48 months away!), is off and running. Sigh.
Just when you thought we’d get to live a few moments of our lives safely out of the blast zone of a presidential campaign, here comes Rubio, whose carefully combed hair and pandering positions make him seem likely to inherit the moniker “Mitt Romney the Younger” or perhaps “Mitt Rubio.”
Our primary concern about Rubio here at The Public’s Health is that he’s first out of the gate marketing himself as yet another Republican who feels comfortable dismissing science when it contradicts his party’s ideology. One of his early tasks as a candidate seems to be confirming those creds, going as far as positioning himself as a creationist, or at least something close to that. When asked about the age of the earth in a recently published interview with GQ magazine Rubio said: “I'm not a scientist, man,” and insisted “whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that.” He added: “It’s one of the great mysteries.”
No it isn’t, senator. Scientists have actual tools by which they can make that determination. Your answer simply reflects a real or manufactured disbelief and cynicism about science when it inconveniently contradicts your ideology.
It is interesting, however, that Republican anti-science hucksters seem to abandon their anti-science positions when they need to see a doctor or when it comes to pork for their districts (think funding great feats of engineering like things that fly in the sky or magical power plants that give us energy).
Why does this matter?
Well, we’ve all heard of Republicans bashing policies around contraception and family planning, climate change and evolution. But when was the last time you heard a science-doubting Republican turn down dialysis, chemotherapy, or some other medically beneficial treatment because “it’s one of the great mysteries?” When was the last time a science-doubting Republican refused to fly in an airplane or ride in an elevator?
If you’re not going to base your political positions in some type of rational thought, then at least be consistent. My suggestion for anti-science Republicans is that they shouldn’t drive cars, shouldn’t go to the doctor, and shouldn’t fly on planes.
Rubio is no stranger to science bashing. When asked about anthropogenic (man made) climate change in a 2009 interview, Rubio practiced his “I am not a scientist” deflection, telling a reporter, "I'm not a scientist. I'm not qualified to make that decision. There's a significant scientific dispute about that.” No, THERE IS NO SCIENTIFIC DISPUTE ABOUT ANTHROPOGENIC CLIMATE CHANGE, something I feel like yelling from a rooftop every time I hear someone spout this nonsense. In 2010, Rubio thought he was insulting Charlie Crist, his opponent for the Senate, by suggesting that he was “a believer in man-made global warming.”
Senator Rubio, as you’ve told us over and over again, you are not a scientist. If you were, you might understand that the television waves that carry your misstatements for broadcast and the infrared waves that are reflected back to earth by greenhouse gases, creating climate change, are different types of electromagnetic radiation. So if you don’t trust the scientists on global warming, perhaps you should stay off television, too.
Or, with just a little effort, given the power of your office and the vast resources at your fingertips, you could spend some time learning about science, even spending time with actual scientists, before you heap scorn on their work to score political points.
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