But disrespect for science is hardly a Republican failing these days, as the remarkable lack of defense for James Watson (a lifelong Democrat, by the way) showed.
In the 1950s, Americans respected scientists. Why? Probably because they had shown they could build a Really Big Bomb. I'm wondering if the lack of respect for science shown today in the Watson Brouhaha stems from the commercialization of the fruits of science. I mean, really, did Watson ever do an IPO? Is he a billionaire? He doesn't even own the land under the house he built at Cold Spring Harbor Lab.
The more science is seen as a prop in making the big bucks, the less respect there will be for honest scientists who tell unpopular truth, and the more money will be showered on lecturers like Malcolm Gladwell.
During the Watson Denunciations, a reader attended an event at the famously intellectual 92nd Street Y featuring the prototypical scientist-entrepreneur of our era, Craig Venter of the Human Genome Project:
I don’t know if Venter is really a giant of science, but they had him “interviewed” by some NPR ninny (at the 92nd st y) who did 70% of the talking. Ridiculous. Not many questions, and those that were asked were asinine, like asking about when we will find the genes for consciousness...
It seems pretty clear that the average person’s knowledge of this field is pathetic. The crowd seemed to be most excited about how genetic engineering would solve … global warming. No kidding. And they say New Yorkers are intelligent.