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The Galileo candidate

During the Republican presidential debate tonight, Texas Gov. Rick Perry stumbled when trying to answer a question about his views on science. He tried making a reference to Galileo in defense of his own off-beat brand of climate science—a reference which quickly spun out of orbit.

Here’s what Perry said, in answer to a question about climate change:

“I do agree that the science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put American’s economy at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me is just nonsense. Just because you have a group of scientists that stood up and have said, here is the fact. Galileo got outvoted for a spell. But the fact is, to put America’s economic future in jeopardy, asking us to cut back in areas that would have monstrous economic impact on this country, is not good economics, and I will suggest to you is not necessarily good science.”

Here’s the clip:

(If that video doesn’t play, look around minute 85:30 of the debate video at MSNBC.)

As you might remember from history, Galileo Galilei was denounced by the Catholic church in the early 17th century for his then-radical, now-accepted theories about the motion of the earth. He was personally ordered by Cardinal Roberto Bellarmino to stop teaching Copernican astronomy.

Perry seemed to be comparing Galileo to today’s climate scientists who don’t believe in human-caused climate change. Bad move. With Perry’s close association to the Evangelical Christian movement, and his state’s reputation for retrograde science curriculums, his comparison just makes him seem more like somebody who might insist the earth is flat.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Politics

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