If You’re Not Angry About the GOP’s Anti-Science Antics, You Should Be

I know that everyone has their “thing.” For some people, it’s mountain biking. For others, it’s crafting. For others still, it’s obsessively cleaning out their fridge. However, there are some things that you should at least be a little curious about, especially if you have the kind of national power that Congress has. One of those things is science. The GOP has proven time and again that they lack this curiosity, and that should make you angry.

The latest display of proud ignorance came at a recent hearing by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, where White House science adviser John Holdron was the only witness. You’d think that, because this committee has the words “science,” “space” and “technology” in it that the people on the committee would have a passing interest in science, space or technology. Ha! You must be new here. Instead we got glimpse of a terrifying hellscape where reason and logic go to die.

The hearing was ostensibly to review the White House’s budget requests for science agencies, but it turned into a condescending game of who can miss the point by the most. There were a lot of players and the competition was stiff.

You can read some of the highlights here, and I suggest you do. What some Republican representatives say must be seen to be believed. They time and again prove that they don’t understand the scientific method or how research works. But that’s not what makes their statements so bad. We all have areas that we don’t understand as well as we might like. They’re really leaning into their own ignorance of these issues. Rather than try to better understand what Holdron is saying, they make flip statements. This type of attitude is absolutely unacceptable.

It’s 2014. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but science and technology run our lives. My entire livelihood requires the Internet, something that only barely existed when I was born, developed by scientists and engineers and in part with funding from the National Science Foundation. Your GPS only works because a German physicist figured out that space and time are not only one thing, but also curved. Vaccines keep kids from dying of diseases that only a few generations ago were considered deadly. Diseases which are making a comeback thanks to the misunderstanding of medical science that leads people to believe that vaccines will always do more harm than good.

Scientific research and discovery has unquestionably done humankind a lot of good. And it continues to do so in the face of stiff opposition. Climate science is screaming a warning at us, telling us that we are headed for a disaster like humanity has never seen before. But instead of listening to this tool that humans have used for hundreds if not thousands of years, we bury our heads in the sand. Instead of trying to understand what science is about and how we know what we know, we elect people who mock it in a public hearing.

Why aren’t we collectively more angry about this? Why aren’t you, specifically, more angry about this? You — yes, you — will feel the effects as we raise a new generation of kids who don’t understand basic biology because their school thought teaching evolution was too controversial. You will feel the effects as basic research goes unfunded. You will feel the effects of a warming climate that goes unmitigated.

I, for one, am tired of this. I’m tired of putting unserious people in charge of serious problems. This is not a jocks v. nerds situation. We’ve reached the point where we need curious problem-solvers who know when they are outside their areas of expertise and when to call in the big guns for advice.

There is a great Rosalind Franklin quote that I think is especially relevant in the 21st century:

You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated. Science, for me, gives a partial explanation for life. In so far as it goes, it is based on fact, experience and experiment.

Science is for everybody. The products of science are for everybody. It explains where we come from and helps us into the future. As long as our leaders — and, by extension, us — continue to value ignorance over curiosity, the future is dim.


Jim Ven
Jim Ven5 months ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne Brownabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Warren Webber
Warren Webber1 years ago

Live long and prosper!

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson2 years ago

The GOP has never been accused of having brains.

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

In other words; since you can find nothing wrong with my statements, you claim that I am moving the goal posts. Is this the best argument you can conjure to back your claims? If you re-read the recent posts, you will find no evidence of "goal post moving." It is just a facade to lead others astray.

If wish you validate your claims, rather than simply making personal attacks, then present some hard evidence. This is severly lacking in your posts. Finding someone who agress with your beliefs, does not necessarily make them correct, and others wrong. This is called groupthink. Science does not work by majority rule, but rather by observation and testing.

A little self-reflection may be necessary, as you are posting comments representative of what you accuse me of doing. I will ask you directly, are you a scientist or have any scientific training?

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

Yet you pompously pose and portray yourself as a scientist, as an official, you even come off acting as if you are a threads monitor setting up the conditions by which they discuss things.

It’s hilarious. Your ego seems to know no bounds. You have an opportunity to make a difference, but you keep presenting stuff that just doesn’t fly.

Goal post moving?

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

Kevin, and Robert, for example will call me out when I don’t have something correct. They are both either academically educated or independently educated about a large number of topics and issues. When I perceive a bias, or if I don’t agree or understand, I ask them to explain it further. We clarify with each other, but don’t often have to. They aren’t the only folks besides myself who have called you out for claims and assertions that you’ve made. I’ve seen quite a large number of people who have slam-dunked you for the errant things you say and try to get away with.

You are guilty of either outright fabricating things, making outrageous claims you cannot substantiate, or of only reading certain sources with a specific bias without really doing the research necessary to understand something. On a number of occasions you read something a paper said and simply expanded on one aspect of it failing to realize that if you read the whole paper it provided a different view and conclusion than the one you espoused.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

It’s either time for you to go to a site that you can find elsewhere, where people are stupid or uninformed enough that you can get away with it. Maybe you can find another host website where you can convince people of your version of the world. Maybe there you can groom a group of people to be your followers and you can delight in the prestige it brings you there, if that is what you are really after.

OR, you can change your behavior altogether and really learn about the subjects you pompously claim you are familiar with and really do the research necessary to help people realize what is truly actually going on in the world and around them. You could actually try to help them instead of convince them to bury their head in the sand. The choice is yours. It always has been.

But you’ve made the wrong choices to claim things that are not reality and portray them the way you see them, or want to see them and expect to get away with it here.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

So it’s not about belief it is about reality. You are a scam artist. You want to be somebody important for presenting what you consider a different way of looking at things. You want to see how many people you can convince of your scam. And it must be unsettling to be caught out in the open playing these games. You can’t win people over to your side which it appears you so want to, and need to do.

We aren’t harassing you so much as catching you at your game, and when the facts are presented, your game falls apart. It makes one wonder why you keep playing a game in the first place. In the second place, knowing that you keep getting demolished trying to play this con, this scam, or game, it also makes one wonder why you keep trying it.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

How could you not see that you are moving the goal posts? We can talk about various aspects about a issue, however, you made an assertion. We found no value in your assertion and provided evidence that your assertion, position, hypothesis is invalid. Instead of acknowledging this, you move the goal posts and set a different marker down the road from your original assertion. That is called moving the goal posts.

And it isn’t so much that you believe differently it is the choices you make to take a stand. They are flawed. Each time we show those positions to be flawed you try to reframe it, or move the goalposts down the road hoping you can win by doing so and making your selections smaller.

Do you really believe we cannot detect when you do that?