‘THEY SHOULD STAY IN THE SUNDAY SCHOOL’…. Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke at the University of Arlington-Texas this week, and during the Q&A, was asked for his take on the conservative push on the state Board of Education to undermine lessons on evolution in Texas high school classrooms. (via Blue Girl)

“I think they should stay in the Sunday school,” Tyson said. Calling intelligent design theory a “philosophy of ignorance,” he argued that a lack of appreciation for basic scientific principles will hurt America’s scientific output, which has been the largest economic engine in the country’s history.

“If nonscience works its way into the science classroom, it marks…the beginning of the end of the economic strength this country has known,” Tyson said.

Tyson, who spent time in Washington, D.C. after being appointed to committees by then-President George W. Bush, went on to say that he always knew a Republican judge in Pennsylvania would ultimately side with evolution backers in the high-profile Dover education case in 2005. The judge understood that respecting science is good for the US economy, Tyson said.

“What I learned from my tours of duty in Washington is no Republican wants to die poor,” Tyson said.

I’m glad to see him put it this way. For many conservative activists, the push to undermine curricula relating to modern biology is about religion and culture. For the rest of us, it’s largely about science and reason, but it’s also about national competitiveness. A “philosophy of ignorance” is always a mistake, but especially right now, we really can’t afford it.

To care about American economic competitiveness is to care about science. To push pseudo-science is to hold the nation back.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.