Posted by | September 9, 2011 18:54 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

With the Republican presidential contenders, there’s fact checking, and then there’s trying to figure out what the heck they meant.  Particularly incomprehensible was Governor Perry’s invocation of Galileo to defend his anti-scientific sentiments on global warming.  Henry Fountain tries to understand what Perry meant:

On the surface, though, his example seemed to illustrate the opposite of the point that Mr. Perry might have been trying to make. Galileo, whose astronomical observations confirmed the Copernican theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun, was basing his assertions on empirical knowledge and faced opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which supported the Ptolemaic view of an Earth-centered universe.

Mr. Perry, by contrast, has said repeatedly that he does not believe the empirical evidence compiled by scientists in support of climate change, but that he does adhere to faith-based principles.

Was Mr. Perry trying to depict Galileo as a maverick among scientific thinkers of his time? If so, the governor was wrong, says one historian who has studied the trial of Galileo.

“If Perry means to say that at some point some body of scientists said Galileo was wrong, that didn’t happen,” said the historian, Thomas F. Mayer, who teaches at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

I have to say that I was nervous when the Governor entered the race.  But between comments like this and his continued insistence on ending Social Security, I grow less nervous by the day.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.