An unhealthy skepticism has crept into the average American’s perception of long-established scientific consensus. According to a new Associated Press poll, 4 in 10 Americans are skeptical about such notions as that human-made gases contribute to global warming, that the planet is 4.5 billion years old, and that life evolved through natural selection. More than half question the validity of the Big Bang theory.
The skepticism about climate change has political implications. The GOP majority in the U.S. House by and large feels the same way, making legislation to address it impossible. Scientific ignorance puts the nation at a global competitive disadvantage — and at risk.
The troubling implication of the poll is that political spin and religious belief now have a bigger say in what many Americans believe than the results and research that scientists can show. It will be a tragedy if pragmatic America becomes a nation that allows faith or ideology to trump science.