Thursday, May 14, 2009

Presidential Sophistry and Malthusianism

Jay Cost at the HorseRaceBlog discusses presidential sophistry. Here's an excerpt: presidential address would be complete without a gratuitous shot at his predecessor. Even a speech on science.
And we have watched as scientific integrity has been undermined and scientific research politicized in an effort to advance predetermined ideological agendas.

We know that our country is better than this....

On March 9th, I signed an executive memorandum with a clear message: Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. Our progress as a nation - and our values as a nation - are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy.

He doesn't come right out and say it - but he is talking about stem cell research here. Personally, I'm pretty ambivalent on the issue of stem cell research. I view it as a minor skirmish in the broader war on abortion. However, I think this is a gross mischaracterization of the position of those who are opposed to federal funding of stem cell research. Given that this is coming from a President who, as a candidate, campaigned on ending the pattern of gross mischaracterizations in Washington, D.C. - I find this really aggravating.

On a certain level, Cost is correct that the stem cell debate is a skirmish in the war on abortion; however, abortion is a major battle in the war of ideas between Thomas Malthus and Julian Simon. Either more people are bad for the planet (Malthus) or they're the Ultimate Resource (Simon).

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