Whether or not some Republicans are stupid, I contend that Krugman still did not make the case, and that is because he confuses science with opinion. Thus, if someone disagrees with him -- and everyone knows that Krugman claims to base his opinions solely on science -- then that person is an ignorant know-nothing.
I will go further. Krugman is not speaking so much of science here, but rather opinions from people who are employed as scientists. What he is claiming is a non sequitur: if one disagrees with his views, then one rejects the ENTIRETY of the Scientific Method.
The two subjects he identifies are the Theory of Evolution and whether or not humans are destroying the planet by causing global warming. It is Krugman's belief that if one does not hold to exactly the same viewpoints he holds, then one is beyond reproach and is utterly ignorant and should be banished from polite or at least intelligent company. He writes:
Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”Now, I don't want to get into the deeper arguments on evolution or climate change, but want to point out that when Krugman speaks of evolution, he is saying that all present and complex life forms all evolved from a simple form of life, the amoebae. (Krugman does not tell us how the amoebae found its way to existence, and since there can't possibly be a God -- such thoughts are not permissible at places like Princeton -- well, the cell just must have appeared on its own.)
That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”
There is plenty of scientific debate on the evolution of cells, but what Krugman is saying is that one must accept EVERYTHING on one side, proven or not, or one is an ignorant know-nothing. And God help any scientist who might use something like probabilities in the discussion, as the use of the scientific method is acceptable ONLY if one first accepts the view that all things complex evolved out of things simple.
As for global warming, Krugman is saying that unless one believes that a trace gas (carbon dioxide occupies about 0.037 percent of the atmosphere) is responsible for all changes in climage, one is an ignorant know-nothing. Furthermore, Krugman does not argue the science, but rather says that because the National Academy of Sciences is on the CO2 bandwagon, we should be, too.
You will have to excuse my skepticism here, as I wrote part of my doctoral dissertation on acid rain, including the predictions and what actually happened. Yes, the National Academy of Science in the early 1980s made a wild prediction (there would be a ten-fold increase in the number of acidified lakes in the USA because of acid rain) which did not come true, not even close.
In fact, it turned out that as the scientific theories of lake acidification evolved, so-called acid rain played no role at all. The composition of the watersheds and land-use patterns turned out to be the key predictor, something the Environmental Protection Agency tried to suppress by threatening scientists who came up with conclusions the EPA didn't like.
However, the politically-correct viewpoint (one that I am sure Krugman would defend to the death) was that acid rain was doing a number of terrible things, and if a scientist, after engaging in legitimate research, found out things that veered from the politically-acceptable view, then that person was not engaging in real science. Like it or not, with most scientific research on climate and the environment funded by governments, the political pressures are going to be there for people to reach conclusions of the Krugmans of this world.
Keep in mind that climate change has occurred for millenia. Interestingly, the so-called hockey stick managed to eliminate both the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age through mathematical manipulation. (But, if one's manipulations fit the politically-correct zeitgeist, then that is OK.) Of course, any view that the sun might play a role cannot be accepted because not even Paul Krugman is going to advocate that Congress pass laws to deal with the sun.
A world-class soil scientist once told me that the heart of the scientific method is "skepticism." Unfortunately, skepticism no longer is allowed once politics becomes the norm, and anyone who might employ the scientific method and reach conclusions that disagree with viewpoints that Krugman holds is "anti-science."