Friday, September 9, 2011

Rick Perry launches the Galileo Gambit into the mainstream

We were there first. (Well, useless you count RationalWiki or Respectful Insolence, who wrote about the phenomenon in 2006). But Rick Perry's bumbling allusion to the the skeptic meme has brought the Galileo Gambit a lot more unwelcome attention:

Rick Perry’s Inane Miscue on Galileo and Climate Change

Fineman: Perry Over His Head On Climate Change

I knew Galileo. Rick Perry, you are no Galileo.

Rick Perry's Galileo Metaphor Is Totally Backwards

[W]hat Perry fails to realize is the fact that the scientific community actually agreed with Galileo. It was the clergy who outvoted him, accusing him of being a heretic. "By the time Galileo was publishing on heliocentrism, the idea was already circulating and widely accepted in scientific circles, including Jesuits," explains Joshua Rosneau from the National Center for Science Education. "He wasn't outvoted by scientists, he was outvoted by the political and religious leadership of his country."

The example of Galileo would actually make a great metaphor for climate change scientists, not the deniers. Following his Galileo blunder, Perry parrots the familiar political reasoning behind brushing off the theory of climate change, one supported by the vast majority of environmental scientists--97 percent of them, in fact.

The Galileo Gambit; rule number one is…

Earth to Rick: when deciding to use the Galileo Gambit, rule number one is “You Are Not Galileo”. And neither are the carbon-energy industry funded thinktank mouthpieces, or the Fox News bobbleheads who invite them in for unlimited airtime.

Is Rick Perry a 21st-century Galileo?

They're both victims of persecution though … In a way, yes. Galileo was put on trial by the Roman Inquisition and sentenced to house arrest for almost 10 years until his death, while Perry has been plagued by pesky scientists wielding facts.

Facts? Considered a form of psychological abuse by some on the Christian right.

It sounds like Galileo was lucky to escape with his life. Yes, unlike the 234 people executed under Perry's governorship.

So is Perry a genius? During a severe drought this April, Perry proclaimed a three-day "prayer for rain". Conditions worsened.

From the International Business Times: Rick Perry: Modern-Day Galileo of Climate Science?

The Los Angeles Times: Rick Perry: He's no Galileo

The New York Times: Divining Perry’s Meaning in ‘Galileo’ Remark

There are more . . . a lot more . . . but that is probably enough to be getting on with (feel free to post a link in the comments). It didn't seem at the time that Perry's Galileo moment was going to go over well, and indeed it hasn't. I'm not even coming across rapturous celebrations of the analogy one would expect from the usual quarters. The right seems to want to forget about this little rhetorical flourish. Maybe they will give up on Galileo, move on to some other totally inappropriate analogy with a famous scientist/victim of persecution. Ignaz Semmelweis, perhaps?

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