Rick Perry Happily Grabs the Anti-Science Brass Ring

Congratulations to tonight’s GOP debate hosts at MSNBC for asking Rick Perry to explain his distrust of scientists regarding human-induced climate change—and then asking a follow-up. Too bad Perry didn’t really answer either query.

First, Perry was asked whether he thinks climate change is happening. He responded with the old trope that the “science isn’t settled” on climate change. The models could be wrong, he said, and he asserted that we shouldn’t make political decisions based on what could be flawed science. And even if a lot of scientists (actually, 97 percent of them, to be exact) agree that the science is settled, that’s not enough according to Perry. “Galileo got out-voted for a spell,” he said.

But then he was asked to name a scientist that he “finds compelling” on the subject of climate change. One scientist. Any scientist! But Perry declined to name a single one. Instead, he pivoted. “Let me tell you what I find compelling,” Perry said. “What we’ve done in the state of Texas.”

Immediately before that exchange, the moderators quoted John Huntsman’s allegation that his fellow candidates in the GOP contest are “anti-science.” Huntsman, though, declined to name names. Instead, he stuck to the broad criticism of Republicans who make “comments that don’t reflect the reality of the situation.” Perry did Huntsman the favor of proving his point.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.