Sunday, May 01, 2016

Polarized Nation – Part IV

When this four-part article was first conceived of, there was a plethora of candidates vying for the Democratic and Republican nominations. As a result, there was also a profusion of opinions from each of the many candidates related to the various subjects that I listed in the articles. Today, there is relative paucity based on the paltry number of candidates compared to just a few months ago. The two remaining subjects to be considered are Evolution; the second is Vaccination and the preferred frequency of shots.


Hillary Clinton: According to Clinton, no form of creationism — not even Intelligent Design creationism — should be taught as if it were science alongside evolution.

Bernie Sanders: He has received the highest possible score from Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), a religious liberty watchdog group that considers favorably the subject of evolution and it’s teaching in the schools. He obviously believes in evolution.

Donald Trump: I can find no record of Trump stating explicitly whether or not he believes in evolution. However, in an address at Jerry Falwell’s Evangelical Liberty University, he said the following: “We’re going to protect Christianity, and I can say that. I don’t have to be politically correct. We’re going to protect it.” In Sioux Center, Iowa, he recently stated: “I'll tell you one thing: if I get elected president, we're going to be saying 'merry Christmas' again… And by the way, Christianity will have power, without having to form,” said Trump. “Because if I'm there… You're going to have somebody representing you very, very well. Remember that.”

Draw you own conclusions.

Ted Cruz: Here is what QUORA, the online encyclopedia says:Senator Cruz, a Southern Baptist, hangs around with the most conservative Evangelicals, and announced his candidacy at ultra conservative Liberty University, which according to their website believes ‘The universe was created in six historical days and is continuously sustained by God” (Doctrinal Statement), and according to their science department, teaches a young-Earth creationist view of Earth history. Considering that 50% of all Republican primary voters in 2012 were white evangelicals, that is an understandable political move, though Liberty President Jerry Falwell Junior has just come out in support of Donald Trump.” It continues, “However, this is not evidence of what Senator Cruz believes, as when it comes to evidence we should rely on direct statements from the Senator, and there are none, to my knowledge.”

It is debatable as to how much Ted Cruz is influenced by his father, the pastor, Rafael Cruz , considered to be an ultraconservative in politics and religion. He stated his view on evolution as follows: Pastor Cruz says that “there’s nothing scientific about evolution,” but “evolution is one of the strongest tools of Marxism, because if they can convince you that you came from a monkey, it’s much easier to convince you that God does not exist.”

John Kasich: In 2009, in the Cleveland Jewish News on social issues, Kasich said he supports teaching both evolution and “creation science” in Ohio biology classes. This is not the diluted version of creationism that goes by the name of intelligent design. It is the full-blown creation science (a total literal interpretation of the bible stories) in biology class.

Here is an interesting sidelight on this subject:

On February 12 th of this year, considered “Darwin Day,” the Pew Research Center put out this statement, “Only a minority of Americans fully accepts evolution (Darwinism) through natural selection. Roughly six-in-ten U.S. adults (62%) say humans have evolved over time, according to data from Pew Research Center’s recently released Religious Landscape Study. But only a little more than half of them (33% of all Americans) express the belief that humans and other living things evolved solely due to natural processes. A quarter of U.S. adults (25%) say evolution was guided by a supreme being. The same survey found that 34% of Americans reject evolution entirely, saying humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.

However, 98% of scientists connected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science say they believe humans evolved over time, yet only two-thirds (66%) of Americans overall perceive that scientists generally agree about evolution.

The Pew Research Center added this note: “A series of court decisions have prohibited the teaching of creationism or intelligent design in public schools. In spite of efforts in many American states and localities to ban the teaching of evolution in public schools or to teach alternatives to evolution, courts in recent decades have consistently rejected public school curricula that veer away from evolutionary theory. In Edwards v. Aguillard (1987), for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Louisiana law requiring public school students to learn both evolution and ‘creation science’ violated the Constitution’s prohibition on the establishment of religion.”

So here is the paradox: Despite the fact that 98 percent of scientists polled believe in the Theory of Evolution, and 66 percent of Americans acknowledge that enterprise, why do the 34 percent remaining deny its validity? According to the Pew research, the answer probably lies in the fact that, “America is getting less religious. Today’s younger Americans no longer have the strong ties to organized religion that their parents did. About 56 million people now call themselves “nones” —meaning that they identify as atheist, agnostic, or nothing in particular on national surveys—a jump of 19 million since 2007, according to the 2014 Pew Research Center survey. Again, it’s the younger generation who are driving this shift: Fully 36 percent of young adults between 18 and 24 identify as nones, and the number of millennial adults who are religiously unaffiliated is growing fast.”


I prefer the word “inoculation” since vaccination is the procedure, but inoculation or “prevention,” as the dictionary defines that word, is the result. However, the contentious beliefs and belligerent arguments that have developed over the years erupted when in1998, Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues published a case series in the British journal Lancet, which suggested that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine may predispose to behavioral regression and pervasive developmental disorder in children.

Despite the small sample size, the uncontrolled design, and the speculative nature of the conclusions, the paper received wide publicity, and MMR vaccination rates began to drop because parents were concerned about the risk of autism after vaccination.

However, a 2004 investigation by Sunday Times reporter Brian Deer identified undisclosed financial conflicts of interest on Wakefield's part, (Wakefield had been funded by lawyers who had been engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine-producing companies) and most of his co-authors then withdrew their support for the study's interpretations.

In 2010, the Lancet fully retracted the 1998 publication, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified. The Lancet's editor-in-chief Richard Horton said the paper was “utterly false” and that the journal had been “deceived”. Three months following The Lancet's retraction, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register, with a statement identifying deliberate falsification in the research published in The Lancet, and was barred from practicing medicine in the UK.

The original Wakefield research paper has since been called, “perhaps the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years.”

So how do the current presidential candidates view vaccinations?

HILLARY CLINTON : Lastyear, she tweeted the following: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork. Let's protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest”

BERNIE SANDERS:I think obviously vaccinations work. Vaccination has worked for many, many years. I am sensitive to the fact that there are some families who disagree but the difficulty is if I have a kid who is suffering from an illness who is subjected to a kid who walks into a room without vaccines that could kill that child and that’s wrong.

TED CRUZ : He dismissed the firestorm over vaccinations, saying that “of course” he supports childhood vaccinations, and that the idea that other Republicans were opposed was “silliness stirred up by the media. Most states include an exception clause for good faith religious convictions, and that’s an appropriate judgment for the states to make,” Cruz said, according to USA Today. “But on the question of whether kids should be vaccinated, the answer is obvious and there’s widespread agreement: Of course they should.”

JOHN KASICH: “‘You have to get vaccinated,’ This is not a choice. Are you kidding me? I mean, my kids are gonna go to school. I want to make sure that they get vaccinated for those basic things that protect all of us.”

DONALD TRUMP: “Autism has become an epidemic. Twenty-five years ago, 35 years ago, you look at the statistics, not even close. It has gotten totally out of control,” Trump said. “I am totally in favor of vaccines. But I want smaller doses over a longer period of time. Same exact amount, but you take this little beautiful baby, and you pump—I mean, it looks just like it's meant for a horse, not for a child, and we've had so many instances, people that work for me.” He added: “Just the other day, 2 years old, 2½ years old, a child, a beautiful child went to have the vaccine, and came back, and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.” Now you know exactly where he stands on this issue… right?

The intent of this series of articles is to identify those presidential candidates who have, in past opinions and actions, viewed scientific opinions and empirically based evidence favorably, and with the respect these factors deserve. It also reveals, at least to some extent, those who choose to ignore, and even repudiate, out of ideological or religious belief, this type of corroborative evidence. You can decide for yourself if these past actions and attitudes will prevail if that candidate actually is elected president.


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