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Observations

Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

A Stern Commentary: Howard Stern Calls Out Rick Perry for His Anti-Science Views

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Howard SternNo shortage of articles have been published about the deep distrust exhibited by most 2012 Republican presidential candidates toward specific scientific findings—notably evolution and climate change—as well as in some cases toward science itself. Rush Limbaugh, who shapes the opinions of a large audience of conservatives, has labeled science as one of the "Four Corners of Deceit," along with government, the media and academia. (Academic researchers and federal agency scientists are thus doubly deceitful in Limbaugh's worldview.)

But another radio personality with a big following often speaks out these days in favor of science. Howard Stern may have a reputation as a "shock-jock" with a dirty mouth. But as a broadcaster with almost four decades of experience in terrestrial and now satellite radio, he is well versed in the technology of his medium. And he's a "big fan," as he puts it, of other technology he uses in his daily life. What follows is a transcript of a few minutes of a conversation he had with his broadcast partner Robin Quivers at the start of his September 8th show. The conversation began in reaction to the previous night's GOP presidential debate

Howard Stern: Rick Perry's a real anti-science guy, kinda like George Bush, he's like, ya know, (putting on a Texas accent), "I don't believe there's global warming and this global warming is ruining our economy, and scientists are a**holes. I believe in God and Jesus." I hate that thinking.

Robin Quivers: Well, he's the guy who called the national prayer conference and prayed for the problems to go away.

Howard: Yeah, that's always good. No, pray that you have some scientists with half a brain. That's how we win wars. That's how we win in the economy. Science—

Robin: What does he think he's driving around in.

Howard: Yeah, right. Well, science—ya know, well, take a look at Apple, the company. I'm a big fan, as you know, I use all their products. Ya know, they didn't get there by praying to Jesus. They got there by good old-fashioned science. They somehow figured—

Robin: Even the fact that he's talking—science got him on the air last night!

Howard: Ya know, Apple somehow figured if you touch a piece of glass you can move things around, and whoa. That's science, and that's how you build industry, and that's how you build a company. Listen, you talk about science…(Digression about a sci-fi TV series)

Robin: But Howard, if he [Perry] wanted to turn his back on science, he'd have to go back to the Dark Ages. He'd have to turn off his lights—

Howard: (Sarcastically) No, we don't need science.

Robin: He'd have to do, he'd become Amish. He'd have to get back into a horse and buggy.

Howard: I believe in science. I'm the candidate that believes in science.

Robin: But all these people are using science and technology all the time while they say, "Oh, it's no good."

Howard: That's right. Well, listen. So far I gotta hear some—

Robin: He doesn't believe in global warming, but what has he invented? What has he figured out?

Howard: He invented how to keep his hair in place even under the most crucial and taxing situations.

Robin: He didn't even figure that out, he just used a can somebody else created.

Howard: Oh. That's true. That is true. He didn't even figure that out.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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