Perry’s offenses against science consist of his statements on evolution and global warming, areas where “the science” is routinely used to try to force assent to far-reaching philosophical or policy judgments unsupported by the evidence.In other words, Lowry is saying that Rick Perry is against the established science—but that's OK because liberals use science to try to advocate for liberal policies. Thus, if liberals said something like, "The sky is blue, therefore we must raise taxes," Perry would assert that the sky is pink. And Lowry would approve.
Unless he has an interest in paleontology that has escaped everyone’s notice to this point, Perry’s somewhat doubtful take on evolution has more to do with a general impulse to preserve a role for God in creation than a careful evaluation of the work of, say, Stephen Jay Gould. Perry’s attitude is in the American mainstream. According to Gallup, 40 percent of Americans think God created man in his present form, and 38 percent think man developed over millions of years with God guiding the process. Is three-quarters of the country potentially anti-science?
Similarly, Perry’s skepticism on man-made global warming surely has much to do with the uses to which the scientific consensus on warming is put. It is enlisted as support for sweeping carbon controls that fail any cost-benefit analysis and gets spun into catastrophic scenarios that are as rigorous as Hollywood movie treatments.
Now, I don't particularly care what Perry as an individual thinks about evolution or climate. But as a potential national leader, I'm concerned because—based on Lowry's defense—it signals an overall approach of ignoring actual facts and settled knowledge if those facts and knowledge suggest policy actions that Perry doesn't like. Rather than come up with a counter-proposal for action, or arguing (as Lowry does) about cost-benefit analyses, Perry simply gets to decide that reality isn't real. It might be too narrow to suggest that such an attitude is "anti-science." It's more like "anti-empirical knowledge." And that's a kind of relativism that "hard headed" conservatives like to decry.