The Irony of Todd Akin

Todd Akin’s views about rape and pregnancy are crazy, and he deserves his current political plight.  The irony is that Akin is by no means the most extreme of the current crop of Senate candidates. In fact, in a recent blog post, I decided not to lump him with the other tea party candidates because his environmental views were more mainstream. For instance, he gives EPA credit for helping to clean up the environment, and he favors some limited actions to address possible climate change.

In contrast, consider the crazy views espoused by some of his fellow tea-partiers:

Richard Mourdock (Indiana): “We are basing our energy policy on the greatest hoax of all time, which is that mankind is changing the climate.”

Ted Cruz (Texas): Agenda 21 (a/k/a the Rio Declaration) “establishes a regime of rules that attempt to bypass Congress and the American people, handing over power over vast areas of the US economy to unelected UN bureaucrats.”

These views are just as crazy as Todd Akin’s.  Mourdock’s fantasy of a worldwide conspiracy of thousands of scientists is laughable, but such theories of mass conspiracies have an ugly history. Cruz’s fantasies about Agenda 21 are equally nutty. Agenda 21 is a well-intentioned but completely toothless endorsement of sustainable development. One commenter on my previous post assured us that Cruz is too smart to believe these things and is simply pandering — but this “defense” seems equally damning to me.

Akin is getting the treatment he deserves.  But why are Mourdock, Cruz, and their ilk getting a free ride from the press and the public?

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Reader Comments

8 Replies to “The Irony of Todd Akin”

  1. And why do the unfounded, anti-scientific claims of Prop. 37 proponents get a free ride from environmentalists who claim to speak for science? The scientific consensus on GMOs is more robust — and less equivocal — than that on climate, and yet the California Democratic Party can endorse the proposition and no one questions the scientifically dubious claims made by its proponents.

  2. And why do the unfounded, anti-scientific claims of Prop. 37 proponents get a free ride from environmentalists who claim to speak for science? The scientific consensus on GMOs is more robust — and less equivocal — than that on climate, and yet the California Democratic Party can endorse the proposition and no one questions the scientifically dubious claims made by its proponents.

  3. The point is that both parties are full of people who make scientifically unfounded (or even scientifically ridiculous) claims, but partisans only see the absurd claims made by those with whom they disagree. Akin’s claim that rape is unlikely to result in pregnancy was ignorant and absurd, but so are many claims made by folks on the left, including those who campaign against GMOs.

    1. It’s certainly true that both the Left and the Right have people who substitute ideology for evidence. In the past, I’ve been outspoken in criticizing scholars on the Left who wanted to substitute “storytelling” for social science. But the difference today is that this anti-scientific worldview is much more dominant on the Right. You could see this during the Republican primaries, where candidate after candidate who had formerly acknowledged the reality of climate change was forced to recant their belief in the science.

  4. The point is that both parties are full of people who make scientifically unfounded (or even scientifically ridiculous) claims, but partisans only see the absurd claims made by those with whom they disagree. Akin’s claim that rape is unlikely to result in pregnancy was ignorant and absurd, but so are many claims made by folks on the left, including those who campaign against GMOs.

    1. It’s certainly true that both the Left and the Right have people who substitute ideology for evidence. In the past, I’ve been outspoken in criticizing scholars on the Left who wanted to substitute “storytelling” for social science. But the difference today is that this anti-scientific worldview is much more dominant on the Right. You could see this during the Republican primaries, where candidate after candidate who had formerly acknowledged the reality of climate change was forced to recant their belief in the science.

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Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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