Politics Archive

Friday, September 2, 2011

Thoughts on Gun Control

Gun ControlGun control is a somewhat controversial issue. For some reason that I don't understand, it tends to follow party affiliation, with Republicans being more apt to oppose gun control laws, with Democrats more likely to favor gun control laws, and in even more extreme case, gun bans. I'd always been a bit torn on the issue, so I figured what better opportunity to research it than to write a blog entry about it.

Let me start by saying that I'm not going to consider the Constitution at all. After all, the Constitution is just a piece of paper that's only worth how it's interpreted and enforced. The Supreme Court could suddenly decide that the clause about "a well regulated Militia" is fulfilled by the National Guard and doesn't protect private gun ownership, or they could go back to a pre-1920s interpretation where the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government, or the House and Senate could even pass a Constitutional amendment repealing the second amendment. The Constitution and Bill of Rights are documents I like, but they're not scripture. They were still written by fallible men. So, I'm more interested in the underlying justification for gun ownership.

I'm also going to try to avoid some of the sillier arguments people use. For example, I've heard people bring up isolated cases of gun control, such as D.C.'s handgun ban, and pointing out how ineffective they are in reducing crime. But of course, when you can hop on the Metro and in 20 minutes be in a location where you can legally purchase a gun, the ban's not going to be very effective. Any cases worth considering have to be widespread enough to have a real impact.

The main issues to me seem to be:

  1. Just how dangerous are guns?
  2. Do gun control laws make society safer?
  3. If gun control laws do work, is it a trade-off in personal freedom vs. safety that we're willing to make?

So, how dangerous are guns? I guess it's time to start looking at the statistics.

I went to the CDC Deaths and Mortality section for some overall mortality stats, and was able to find stats for 2005-2007. I also went to the CDC Injury Mortality Reports site for firearm and other injury specific stats, which I found for the years 1999-2007.

General Mortality Statistics
Stat Total Deaths, 2005-2007 Age-Adjusted Rate Avg. per Year
All Deaths 7,297,993 not calc'd 2,432,664
General Injury Mortality Statistics
Stat Total Deaths, 1999-2007 Age-Adjusted Rate Avg. per Year
All Injury Related Deaths 1,481,325 56.28 164,592
Motor Vehicle, Overall 400,993 15.24 44,555
Homicide - All Causes 161,747 6.14 17,972
Homicide - non Firearm 55,622 2.12 6,180
Homicide - Firearm 106,125 4.02 11,792
Firearm Specific Injury Mortality Statistics
Stat Total Deaths, 1999-2007 Age-Adjusted Rate Avg. per Year
Firearm - All 269,871 10.24 29,986
Firearm - Suicide 152,056 5.77 16,895
Firearm - Unintentional 6,587 0.25 732
Firearm - Homicide 106,125 4.02 11,792
Firearm - Legal Intervention 2,891 0.11 321
Firearm - Undetermined 2,212 0.08 246

Okay, so what does that tell us? First of all, I think it's important to separate out the suicides from other gun related deaths, since someone wanting to commit suicide will find a way to do so, and the method of choice isn't much of a deterrent. [Edit: Actually, that's not necessarily true. There's a very informative article, The Urge to End It All, that discusses how many suicides are actually impulsive, not premeditated. Those impulsive suicides could be reduced with gun control.] So, once you do that, there are around 13,091 gun related deaths per year, with 11,792 of those being homicides, and only 732 being accidents.

To start, let's just look at that 732 accidental deaths per year due to guns, since those are the deaths of innocent people that can be attributed to people using their guns legally. Given that the U.S. population is around 300 million, that's a really small number. It's much smaller than the deaths due to motor vehicles. Perhaps an even better comparison is that in the year 2000, 567 people died from drowning in pools (source).

So, at least from that standpoint, I don't think it's worth banning guns. I'd put that in the category of acceptable risk. However, I wouldn't be against reasonable legislation that would help reduce that risk (i.e. gun safes, trigger guards, etc. - though I don't know enough about those methods to comment on them). Going back to the pool comparison, it's like the legislation that requires you to have a fence around a pool - not a big deal.

However, there are still nearly 12,000 homicides committed each year with guns. That's not huge, but it's still big enough to be troubling. It's roughly 7% of the injury related deaths in the U.S. per year, but only around 0.5% of the total deaths. One interesting point is that there are roughly 6,200 homicides each year that don't involve guns. Now, it's important to remember that most guns are purpose built killing machines*, and they're really damn good at it (or else we'd equip soldiers with some other type of weapon), but in close quarters one on one confrontations - the type likely to be involved in assaults or home burglaries - weapons such as knives can also be used. So currently, gun related homicides are double those of non-gun related homicides, but if guns were to magically disappear tomorrow, you can bet that quite a few criminals would switch to carrying around other weapons, and that the non-gun related homicides would increase.

Also, a common point made by gun rights advocates is that it's criminals committing murders, not law abiding citizens, and that criminals won't respect gun control laws. And for a certain segment of criminals, that's certainly the case, especially those involved in organized crime. However, for petty thieves or crimes of passion, a hypothetical gun ban may have some effect in keeping guns out of their hands, reducing those criminals' danger by forcing them to use less effective weapons.

But all that's starting to get a little too hypothetical. Are there any stats on this? Unfortunately, it's hard to find. The biggest problem is that compared to other prosperous democracies, the U.S. is just so violent. For example, in 2004, the intentional homicide rate in the U.S. was 5.5 per 100,000 people. In our neighbor to the North, Canada, it was only 1.95. In the United Kingdom, it was only 1.75. In Australia, it was only 1.5. And in Austria, it was only 0.72**. Obviously, not all of those murders can be attributed to guns, especially considering my discussion above where around 1/3 of homicides in the U.S. currently don't involve firearms, and where non-gun homicides would likely increase if guns were to disappear. But it shows that the U.S. isn't comparable to other prosperous democracies when it comes to homicides.

Australia is often cited in discussions on gun control laws due to their gun buy back program from a few years ago. The problem is, Australia's situation wasn't analogous to the U.S. prior to the program, since they already had more restrictive gun control laws, and the buy back program wasn't a full ban - it only banned certain types of guns. And there's still the point that violence in Australia wasn't as bad as in the U.S., so it's not an apples to apples comparison. So, whether you listen to the people cherry picking data to try to make it look like violent crime has increased dramatically in Australia after the program, or the people who point out that in the longer term that violent crime has decreased in Australia since the program, it still doesn't tell you what would happen in the U.S. if very strict gun control laws were passed.

I have one last bit of discussion before wrapping this all up - anecdotes. I know, anecdotes aren't data, but this is a blog, so I think they're permissible. I've known of two people who have had to defend themselves with guns. One was the father of a friend. The other was the neighbor of a relative. So, I haven't heard the stories first hand, but I'm not too far removed.

In one case, a criminal was trying to break into a home by attempting to knock down the front door. The man of the house heard what was going on, got his shotgun (or rifle - I can't quite remember), and shouted a warning. The criminal continued to try to break in. So, the homeowner shot through the door, shooting the criminal. It turned out to be an addict high on something. I think the homeowner did the right thing, especially in retrospect. If someone was acting violently, and didn't heed a warning, who knows what they would have done once they were in the house?

In the second case, a young man somehow got crossways with a local gang. I've only heard a one-sided second hand version, but he claims he was just attempting to buy some pot when the dealers tried to mug him, and he embarrassed them by actually stealing their guns and getting away. Whatever the case, several of the gang members showed up at his house at night, and broke in through the front door. The young man was shot several times, and one of the gang members was shot with a shot gun. Had he not shot back with a shot gun, what would have happened?

So, those are two examples I know of where guns were used in self defense. The first example, especially, is a legitimate example of a law abiding citizen who very likely might have been harmed had he not had a gun.

Okay, so let me go back to my three original questions.

1. Just how dangerous are guns?

As far as legal uses - not too bad. The number of people killed accidentally by guns is about the same as people who die accidentally in swimming pools. That's a level of risk I'm willing to live with.

As far as murders - guns are used to commit homicides twice as often as other methods, but those homicides account for less than 1% of the deaths in the U.S. per year.

2. Do gun control laws make society safer?

Honestly, I don't know. I haven't seen any good examples to point one way or the other. I'm sure some types of gun control laws work to reduce accidents, but I don't know about strict gun control laws or bans. My gut feel is that in the absence of guns, certain criminals would switch to other weapons and still commit murders, but it's probable that the murder rate would go down at least somewhat.

3. If gun control laws do work, is it a trade-off in personal freedom vs. safety that we're willing to make?

Without being able to quantify the first part of that, it's hard to define what that trade-off would be. As I've mentioned, I think there would be some small decrease in violence. Certain types of criminals (petty thieves, crimes of passion) would be without guns to carry out their crimes, but that would be partially offset by some of those switching to other, though less effective, weapons. Other types of criminals, especially those in organized crime, wouldn't be as affected by gun control laws. And all this must be balanced against law abiding citizens losing a freedom, and the potential ability to protect themselves.

I haven't seen enough data to indicate that gun bans or strict gun control laws would markedly reduce violent crime, and I would hate to take away people's freedoms out of fear. That's not to say I'm against gun control laws entirely. Things like gun safes, trigger guards, etc., while I can't comment on the individual methods, seem like reasonable precautions that don't unduly affect people's freedom.

So, all in all, I would prefer to err on the side of freedom in this, and only pass minimal gun control laws that keep society safer, but not go so far as to ban guns or anything close to that extreme.

*I know, I know. Many people like to go target shooting. But most of my personal acquaintances go target shooting mainly to stay in practice for hunting or self defense - the primary function of their guns is still to kill something.

**I chose 2004 because the data is available for many countries for that year - the rates have fluctuated slightly since then. Also, to put that into worldwide perspective, the highest rate in 2004 was Jamaica at 54, and the highest rate listed on that Wikipedia page was 71 for El Salvador in 2009. Though Jamaica and El Salvador aren't prosperous democracies, and not the societies I'd think the U.S. should emulate.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Republican Candidates' Bigotry

Defend EqualityI realize this makes for three political posts in a row (I try not to focus too much on politics), but here's one more issue that makes it hard to seriously consider some of the leading Republican candidates - their bigotry towards homosexuals. As reported in Reuters:

Texas Governor and Republican presidential contender Rick Perry has signed a pledge vowing to support a Constitutional amendment declaring marriage to be a union of one man and one woman, the group sponsoring the pledge said on Friday.
Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, among those competing with Perry for Republican presidential nomination, have also signed the pledge, the group said.

Not that public opinion polls should be used to defend civil rights, but just to be clear, according to Gallup, a majority of Americans do support marriage equality, and the trend has been towards further and further support. When are Republican politicians going to get the memo that their bigotry doesn't represent Americans' views?

I first heard of this story from The Digital Cuttlefish. Go check out his site for his poetic take on the issue.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Richard Dawkins' Litmus Test

Richard DawkinsI just wrote an entry, 2012 Political Litmus Test, where I explained that I would have a very, very hard time voting for candidates who didn't accept evolution or anthropogenic climate change, and then listed the stances of several candidates on those issues. Well, I just found out that Richard Dawkins wrote an article for the Washington Post, titled Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact, where he made very much the same point in regard to evolution (he even called it a 'litmus test'). So, if you want to go read something more eloquent than what I could write, by someone much more influential than me, go check out that article. Here are a couple snippets to whet your appetite.

There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.
A politician’s attitude to evolution is perhaps not directly important in itself. It can have unfortunate consequences on education and science policy but, compared to Perry’s and the Tea Party’s pronouncements on other topics such as economics, taxation, history and sexual politics, their ignorance of evolutionary science might be overlooked. Except that a politician’s attitude to evolution, however peripheral it might seem, is a surprisingly apposite litmus test of more general inadequacy. This is because unlike, say, string theory where scientific opinion is genuinely divided, there is about the fact of evolution no doubt at all. Evolution is a fact, as securely established as any in science, and he who denies it betrays woeful ignorance and lack of education, which likely extends to other fields as well. Evolution is not some recondite backwater of science, ignorance of which would be pardonable. It is the stunningly simple but elegant explanation of our very existence and the existence of every living creature on the planet. Thanks to Darwin, we now understand why we are here and why we are the way we are. You cannot be ignorant of evolution and be a cultivated and adequate citizen of today.

As a side note, I debated whether "Dawkins'" or "Dawkins's" was the appropriate possessive form. According to this page, since Dawkins ends in a hard 'z' sound, it's the convention to just add the apostrophe. For someone like me, who's last name ends in a soft 's' sound, "Lewis's" would be the preferred form.

Added 2011-08-26 I just found out that there is actually a whole series of essays on this topic. It's in the On Faith section of the Washington Post, under the title, On evolution, can religion evolve? I haven't read all of them, yet, but most of the ones I have are pretty good. I can say that Paula Kirby's essay is excellent. For a truly awful example that will make you want to scream at your monitor, go read the one by Cal Thomas. Its one virtue is that it's short. For another awful example, but without the virtue of brevity, read the one by John Mark Reynolds.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2012 Political Litmus Test

Update 2012-01-23 As the campaign progress, the politicians have begun pandering to their base and changing their tune. Go read the update to see how things have changed.

Litmus PaperI've written before about my own political litmus test. Basically, it would be very, very difficult for me to support any politician who doubted evolution or advocated the teaching of creationism in schools, or who doubted the reality of anthropogenic global climate change. To nearly quote myself, for someone to take those positions requires that they lack knowledge of the issue, are willing to ignore the consensus of experts, and/or are willing to ignore evidence in favor of their ideology. None of those traits are something I want to see in the politicians representing me.

I use evolution and climate change in particular because they're well known issues - you can't claim that you've never heard of them, and, for evolution in particular, the evidence is simply overwhelming. I'm not trying to be a single issue voter. I view these issues nearly on par with things like the spherical Earth or heliocentricism. If, as a politician who will have to deal with a broad range of issues, you can't accept reality, I don't really care what you have to say on other issues, because you've already blown your credibility.

So, how are the current front runners looking on these issues? Here's a quick table. I put Obama on top (since I'm pretty sure the Democrats aren't going to run anyone against him), and some of the leading Republicans after that, in alphabetical order by last name. Note that I'm only trying to give a quick summary in the table below. Politicians are by nature slippery in stating their positions, or willing to say different things depending on the crowd, so it's sometimes a little hard to pin down their actual stances (not that a politician refusing to unambiguously come out in favor of either of these positions is much better than flat out rejecting them).

Candidate Evolution Anthropogenic Climate Change
Barack Obama Accepts Accepts
Michele Bachmann Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept
Newt Gingrich Accepts Accepts
Mike Huckabee Doesn't Accept Accepts
Jon Huntsman Accepts Accepts
Sarah Palin Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept
Ron Paul Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept
Tim Pawlenty Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept
Rick Perry Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept
Mitt Romney Accepts Accepts
Rick Santorum Doesn't Accept Doesn't Accept

So, out of the Republican candidates listed above, only three are even worth starting to consider. And honestly, only one of them, Romney, has much of a chance of getting the Republican nomination. It really does scare the hell out of me that the people who reject the science on these issues are even contenders.

Here's a bit more detail on the candidate's positions:



Here's what Obama had to say in his own words:

I’m a Christian, and I believe in parents being able to provide children with religious instruction without interference from the state.

But I also believe our schools are there to teach worldly knowledge and science. I believe in evolution, and I believe there’s a difference between science and faith. That doesn’t make faith any less important than science. It just means they’re two different things. And I think it’s a mistake to try to cloud the teaching of science with theories that frankly don’t hold up to scientific inquiry.

Source - Bad Astronomy

Climate Change:

Obama at least pays lip service to the threat of climate change, but it's disappointing that he hasn't gotten more accomplished in the time he's been in the White House.

Source - NY Times Blog



According to a blog by the name of The Stillwater Tribune, Bachmann has a very, very muddled understanding of evolution:

Bachmann’s personal definition of what evolution is became unclear at that point, but she went on to say that a grain of wheat plus a starfish does not equal a dog, and that this was what evolutionists were teaching in our schools.

She's also pushed for the teaching of creationism in schools.

Source - Stillwater Tribune
Source - The Bachmann Record

Climate Change:

This quote from a speech Bachmann gave on the House floor reveals a very ignorant position on climate science.

Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is a part of Earth’s life cycle. And yet we’re being told that we have to reduce this natural substance and reduce the American standard of living to create an arbitrary reduction in something that is naturally occurring in the earth.

Source - Environmental Law Prof Blog

She also treads dangerously close to conspiracy theories, implying that much of climate science is "manufactured science".

Source - Think Progress



Here's what Gingrich had to say in an inteview with Discover magazine back in 2006.

Do you view evolution as "just a theory" or as the best explanation for how we came to be? Evolution certainly seems to express the closest understanding we can now have. But it's changing too. The current tree of life is not anything like a 19th-century Darwinian tree. We're learning a lot about how systems evolve and don't evolve. Cockroaches became successful several hundred million years ago and just stopped evolving.

Where do you come down on teaching intelligent design in schools? Do you think the ruling in the Dover, Pennsylvania, case was appropriate?
I believe evolution should be taught as science, and intelligent design should be taught as philosophy. Francis Collins's new book, The Language of God, is a fine statement that combines a belief in God with a belief in evolution. I do not know enough about the Dover case to critique the judge's decision, but I am generally cautious about unelected judges establishing community standards—that is the duty of elected officials.

Source - Discover

However, he has been a bit cagey recently in not trying to admit to accepting evolution, presumably in an attempt to not alienate the creationists among the Republican base.

Source - Sensuous Curmudgeon

Climate Change:

Gingrich has not made it a secret that he accepts climate change is a real problem. As just one example, in an ad with Nancy Pelosi, he explicitly said, "We do agree our country must take action to address climate change."

Source - Daily Caller



There's the infamous example from the 2007 GOP debate, where Chris Mathews asked the candidates which among them did not accept evolution, and Huckabee raised his hand. He's tried to do a bit of back-pedaling since then, but he's never come out in full support of evolution, nor denial of young earth creationism.

Source - Wired
Source - Mike Huckabee fansite

Climate Change:

Back in 2007, at least, when he was in support of a cap and trade plan, Huckabee said of climate change that "it’s all our fault and all of our responsibility to fix it."

Source - Think Progress


Evolution & Climate Change:

In the wake of some of Rick Perry's anti-science statements, Huntsman made his now famous Tweet:

To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy.

Source - Huffington Post (ugh, I feel a bit dirty linking there)



In her book, Going Rogue, Palin basically admitted to being a creationist (if you follow the evolution debate enough, you'll know that many young earth creationists treat 'microevolution' differently from 'macroevolution'.)

I believed in the evidence for microevolution—that geologic and species change occurs incrementally over time, But I didn’t believe in the theory that human beings—thinking, loving beings—originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea. Or that human beings began as single-celled organisms that developed into monkeys who eventually swung down from trees; I believed we came about not through a random process, but were created by God.

Source - The Daily Beast

Climate Change:

Back in July of 2008, Palin appeared to accept climate change. Here's what she had to say back then:

Alaska's climate is warming. While there have been warming and cooling trends before, climatologists tell us that the current rate of warming is unprecedented within the time of human civilization. Many experts predict that Alaska, along with our northern latitude neighbors, will warm at a faster pace than any other areas, and the warming will continue for decades.

Source - Seattle P-I

However, once she hit the national spotlight, her tone began to change. In an editorial she wrote for the Washington Post in December of 2009, she had the following to say:

But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes. We can say, however, that any potential benefits of proposed emissions reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs.

That editorial also reveals that she bought into the manufactured Climategate controversy.

Source - Washington Post



Here's my transcript of a YouTube video of Paul speaking about evolution, leaving out a few stutters and ums.

I think it's a theory, the theory of evolution, and I don't accept it, you know, as a theory. But I think [video glitch or edit] the creator that I know, you know, created us, every one of us, and created the universe. And the precise time and manner and all [or you know] I just don't think we're at the point where anybody has absolute proof on either side.

Sources - Dispatches from the Evolution Wars
More Info - Ron Paul fansite

Climate Change:

In a November 2008 interview for New York Times / Freakanomics, Paul appeared to at least accept climate change and some measure of human effect, but he questioned just how much of an effect humans had.

It is clear that the earth experiences natural cycles in temperature. However, science shows that human activity probably does play a role in stimulating the current fluctuations.

The question is: how much? Rather than taking a “sky is falling” approach, I think there are common-sense steps we can take to cut emissions and preserve our environment. I am, after all, a conservative and seek to conserve not just American traditions and our Constitution, but our natural resources as well.

Source - Ron Paul fansite

However, he later changed his tune, calling climate change a hoax in an interview with Fox Business.

You know, the greatest hoax I think that has been around in many, many years if not hundreds of years has been this hoax on the environment and global warming. You notice they don’t call it global warming anymore. It’s weather control.

Source - Ron Paul fansite



Pawlenty both accepts creationism himself, and feels that it should be taught in schools. Here are some of his responses to a Newsweek interview.

QUESTION: Let me ask you about social issues your party has been dealing with. In her book, Palin claims that McCain’s handlers wanted her to be silent about her belief in creationism. How would you describe your view?

ANSWER: I can tell you how we handle it in Minnesota. We leave it to the local school districts. We don’t mandate a curriculum or an approach. We allow for something called “intelligent design” to be discussed as a comparative theory. It doesn’t have to be in science class.

QUESTION: Where are you personally?

ANSWER: Well, you know I’m an evangelical Christian. I believe that God created everything and that he is who he says he was. The Bible says that he created man and woman; it doesn’t say that he created an amoeba and then they evolved into man and woman. But there are a lot of theologians who say that the ideas of evolution and creationism aren’t necessarily inconsistent; that he could have “created” human beings over time.

Source - Sensuous Curmudgeon

Climate Change:

In an interview with the Miami Herald, Pawlenty said that he thinks the climate is changing, but that it's a natural occurrence and that humans aren't' influencing it.

Well, there’s definitely climate change. The more interesting question is how much is a result of natural causes and how much, if any, is attributable to human behavior. And that’s what the scientific dispute is about.
But I think it’s fair to say that, as to whether and how much -- if any -- is attributable to human behavior, there’s dispute and controversy over it.

At least this is slightly more sensible than the people who just completely flat out deny climate change altogether.

Source - LA Times



Of course, there's the recent example where he told a little boy that evolution was "a theory that's out there", and continued with "It's got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both Creationism and evolution." (BTW, creationism isn't taught in Texas schools.) But previously, back in July, he was even more explicit.

There are clear indications from our people who have amazing intellectual capability that this didn't happen by accident and a creator put this in place.

Now, what was his time frame and how did he create the earth that we know? I'm not going to tell you that I've got the answers to that. I believe that we were created by this all-powerful supreme being and how we got to today versus what we look like thousands of years ago, I think there's enough holes in the theory of evolution to, you know, say there are some holes in that theory.

Source - New York Magazine

Climate Change:

Not just does Perry doubt climate change and humanity's influence, he's come out and basically said it's part of a conspiracy:

...there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.

Source - CBS News



Here's what Romney had to say during a 2007 primary debate.

I believe that God designed the universe and created the universe, and I believe evolution is most likely the process he used to create the human body.
I’m not exactly sure what is meant by intelligent design. But I believe God is intelligent and I believe he designed the creation. And I believe he used the process of evolution to create the human body.

Source - Daily Beast

Climate Change:

Here was Romney's response to a question on climate change during a Town Hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.

I don't speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that. I can't prove that, but I believe based on what I read that the world is getting warmer.

No. 2, I believe that humans contribute to that. I don't know how much our contribution is to that, because I know there's been periods of greater heat and warmth than in the past, but I believe we contribute to that. And so I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you're seeing.

Source - Politico



Here's part of what Santorum wrote in an editorial for the Washington Times.

This opposition to intelligent design is surprising since there is an increasing body of theoretical and scientific evidence that suggests an alternate theory is possible. Research has shown that the odds that even one small protein molecule has been created by chance is 1 in a billion. Thus, some larger force or intelligence, or what some call agent causation, seems like a viable cause for creating information systems such as the coding of DNA. A number of scientists contend that alternate theories regarding the origins of the human species - including that of a greater intelligence - are possible.

Therefore, intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory that should be taught in science classes.

It's the standard creationist canards.

Source - Access Research Network

Climate Change:

As for solutions like carbon taxes, cap-and-trade legislation and other government efforts to control our energy consumption, however, I think most Americans don't believe Al Gore and the hysterics (good rock band name) have made the case.

Could it be that Americans know that over time the Earth goes through natural cooling and heating cycles?

Could it be that they recognize that most of the doomsday scenarios are not scientifically supported and that even the "consensus" projections are just that - projections based upon highly interactive questionable assumptions over long periods of time?

Or could it be they suspect that no one really knows the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in the larger scheme of climate change?

Or maybe Americans are coming to understand that global temperatures have actually cooled over the last 10 years and are predicted to continue cooling over the next 10.

Source - The Inquirer

I suppose I should explain my confidence in evolution and anthropogenic climate change.

I've written extensively about evolution on this blog, so there's a lot of information if you just look around. One of my posts that originally was fairly minor turned into a good source for external links to information on evolution.

Here are a few of the better entries I've written on evolution. Of course, there's far more than this.

Here are two articles I wrote on this blog concerning climate change:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Texas Education - Follow Up to the Follow Up to the Science Instructional Materials Debate

TEA LogoI wrote a few weeks ago about the vote then taking place for the final adoption of supplemental science instructional materials, and followed up with a post explaining how everything had gone mostly well, but that there was one sticking point left. A young Earth creationist had made it onto one of the review panels and made several bogus objections to the materials from Holt McDougal, even though none of the other members of his panel agreed with him. The compromise reached during the meeting was to let Holt McDougal work with the commissioner, Robert Scott, to come up with a satisfactory response to the objections. Scott stated that he would work with appropriate experts to ensure that the materials stayed scientifically sound.

Well, earlier this week, the TEA announced that the issues had been resolved, and it looks like nothing was watered down or changed for the worse. So, it's just more good news for Texas students.

Read more in the links below, including a memo from the TEA detailing Holt McDougal's response.


Selling Out