‘Galileo got outvoted for a spell’

Perhaps the most quoted line from last night’s Republican debate referenced, of all people, Galileo Galilei.

Q: Gov. Perry, Gov. Huntsman was not specific about names, but the two of you do have a difference of opinion about climate change. Just recently in New Hampshire, you said that weekly and even daily scientists are coming forward to question the idea that human activity is behind climate change. Which scientists have you found most credible on this subject?

PERRY: Well, I do agree that there is — the science is — is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans’ economy at — at — at jeopardy based on scientific theory that’s not settled yet, to me, is just — is nonsense. I mean, it — I mean — and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.

Putting aside Rick Perry’s confusion about the consensus on climate science, I’m still not sure what the Galileo reference is even supposed to mean.

He “got outvoted”? If by “outvoted,” Perry means “deemed a heretic by the Inquisition for proving heliocentrism,” then sure, Galileo “got outvoted.”

But in context, what is it, exactly, that Perry is trying to say? Galileo was, after all, correct. His ideas were controversial and inconvenient for society’s most powerful leaders of the day, but the facts were on his side.

Does Perry think Galileo’s experience bolsters the case against climate science? Maybe someone can translate this one for me; I can’t find my far-right decoder ring this morning.

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