National Catholic Reporter

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Rick Perry: 2 for 2

Funny, it is, that Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, fresh from his accusing Ben Bernanke of treasonous behavior, has made another round of headlines by denying what an overwhelming majority of scientists believe about global climate change. (What's next? I vote for denying evolution!)

What was especially interesting about Perry's comments about climate change was his accusation that the scientists who study the issue are corrupt. He stated, "There are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they would have dollars rolling in to their projects." That is quite a charge and, unsurprisingly, Perry offered no evidence to back it up, something that cannot be said about the scientists who study climate change and have plenty of evidence to back up their findings.

It is strange that Perry is so free in sharing this kind of conspiratorial thinking - Bernanke printing money to alter the political landscape, scientists manipulating data to get research dollars - with a public just getting to know him. In my experience, people who are given to conspiracy theories, be they on the left or the right, tend not to be very bright. Faced with understanding complex issues, they opt for easy-to-understand conspiracy theories. I am sure there is a psychological as well as an intellectual deficiency at work here too. But, what is stunning, is the lack of discipline as a candidate. If people are worried you might be a cowboy, giving voice to conspiracy theories on two consecutive days, is not the way to suggest gravitas.

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I will venrture a prediction: Perry will flame out long before Bachmann. She actually has learned to discipline herself and stay on message.

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