The scientific views of presidential candidate Rick Santorum

The Republican list of candidates grows even longer with the recent announcement that former senator Rick Santorum will seek the party’s nomination. There are so many candidates seeking to lead the GOP that those in charge of organizing debates can’t fit them all on one stage.

Santorum served as a senator from Pennsylvania for 12 years, although he lost that seat by a very wide margin in the 2006 election. Mr. Santorum also ran for president in 2012, and won 11 primaries, coming in second to Mitt Romney. Below are statments and positions Santorum has made pertaining to his views on science. As I’ve said on each of these “views” posts, the point is to see if scientific evidence influences his thinking or if he rejects evidence when it doesn’t suit his previously held belief. The first three topics are not at all controversial as far as the scientific evidence is concerned, but can be among those who are not persuaded by facts.

Climate Change

In his 2012 presidential campaign, Mr. Santorum made many statements about climate science; all of them were wrong. He has completely rejected the notion that human activity and CO2 levels contribute to recent warming patterns. He went so far as to claim that climate science is a liberal conspiracy taking advantage of natural warming patterns in an effort to regulate people’s lives more. Yikes.

The theory of evolution

Rick Santorum is avidly anti-evolution. He thinks there are many problems with evolution, although I can’t find him ever naming a problem specifically. Perhaps the “problems” are that it conflicts with his previously held beliefs. He has said that the theory of evolution is a propaganda tool for atheism. “I think there are a lot of problems with the theory of evolution, and do believe that it is used to promote to a worldview that is anti-theist, that is atheist.” Yikes. For my readers, I’ll just link to a book that does a phenomenal job showing the mountains and mountains of evidence all pointing unanimously to the fact that evolution occurs and explains the diversity of species on planet Earth.

Vaccinations

The former senator said unequivocally that he thinks children should get vaccinated and that all of his children have. In that statement he suggested there were “risks”. I suppose there are risks to anything we do ever, so I can’t say that his statement is incorrect. There are probably risks to applying sunscreen. What he should have said is the risks are extremely low if not zero; vaccines are very safe, very effective, and very necessary. Santorum also attacked governor Rick Perry for having a policy that required HPV vaccinations (although parents were allowed to opt out for a variety of reasons). It is safe to infer, then, that he is against public health policies that require vaccinations; those policies are necessary to eradicate a disease.

Science funding

While in the senate, Santorum voted several times to increase the NIH budget and for a tax on tobacco products to help pay for NIH funding. I post a link to these votes here. That link is to a conservative website though, so you’ll have to scroll down to “WASTE” to see the votes he made on research funding. Generally, it seems that the only times he opposes strong science funding is when it somehow violates his deeply held beliefs, such as stem cell research.

Politicus Cerebri

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