Science is Too Political for American Conservative Groups

Science is cool, but it has a nerdish reputation, eliciting images of pocket protectors, lab coats and thick glasses. Since no one wants to be a nerd, the hard sciences (other than healthcare related fields) are not the most popular undergraduate degrees in the country; instead, we tend toward business and the social sciences. Of course, not everyone needs to be so into science that they choose it for a career, but, with so much of our lives dependent on space age scientific advances, you’d think the hard sciences would be a little more popular.

This is why I love the idea of a Science Laureate of the United States. There has been a (surprisingly bipartisan) proposal floating around Congress that’s basically all pluses for science. It’s an honorary, unpaid position designed to go to someone who has a track record of getting the public excited about science. It costs nothing and, if it works, will help make science cool again. Win-win.

Maybe I’m wrong, though, because the American Conservative Union is having none of it. As reported in Science:

In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, [ACU Director of Government Relations Larry] Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.” He also called the bill “a needless addition to the long list of presidential appointments.”

There is, of course, so very much wrong in so very few words, like the idea of science serving political ends.

Let’s get one thing straight right now: Climate change is a real thing. It’s not a made-up politico-science conspiracy to destroy oil and coal companies. Climate change studies have been peer reviewed and verified over and over again. The great thing about science is that it has no political affiliation. It is just the best way we have of understanding the world. Data is data, regardless of whether it is politically expedient or not. I think we would all love it if we could go on pumping carbon dioxide into the air without any adverse consequences. None of us would have to change our behavior at all. However, the data shows that’s not going to happen. You can either accept the data or not, and you can politicize that decision all you want. The proof will be in the pudding.

As for “the long list of presidential appointments,” Hart makes it sound like the hypothetical science laureate would be some kind of cabinet position. This isn’t the case. The idea is based off of the poet laureate, except without the stipend. So, for small-government Republicans, this should be better.

House Republicans even take issue with Hart’s characterization of the proposal:

A staffer for another co-sponsor, Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL), took issue with Hart’s characterization of the bill as a vehicle for the president to advance his political agenda. “This is not a presidential appointment, and there would be no taxpayer money involved,” the aide said. “This bill is simply a chance to show our children that discovery science is important and that science can be an exciting and rewarding career.”

Oh no! We can’t have children learning about science! Oooooh, the humanity!

The bill isn’t dead yet, however, just delayed a bit. It was initially considered so uncontroversial that it was scheduled to be fast-tracked. Now, it will be debated on the merits, and the bill’s sponsors are optimistic that it will pass. However, there are conservative groups out there who will oppose it regardless of what it says or how it’s passed. As long as scientists are allowed to talk about science, there will be opposition.

But Hart says that he’d like the bill’s supporters to clarify several provisions, including the number of laureates, length of service, and type of duties they would perform. And climate skeptic Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute says slowing the pace won’t change his organization’s stance on the bill. “There’s no way to make it work,” Ebell says. “It would still give scientists an opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.”

“It would still give scientists and opportunity to pontificate, and we’re opposed to it.” That’s probably the saddest sentence I’ve ever read.

First, have you ever talked with a scientist about their work? Try it sometime. In even the most sheepish, introverted scientists you can see a glimmer of enthusiasm in their eyes that’s infectious. Giving a scientist a chance to “pontificate” – a.k.a. speak knowledgeably about a topic she or he has spent most of their lives studying – is probably the best thing ever.

It’s hard to find that in our everyday lives, however. It’s there if you seek it out, but we don’t always have time for that. A science laureate would send the message that we think science and science education is important. We’re not going to keep up with the world if we keep teaching kids that the Earth is 6,000 years old and human-caused climate change is a giant hoax.

Good, rigorous science, isn’t about politics. Whether or not we choose to listen to what it tells us, unfortunately, is.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

John H.
John H.4 years ago

Miranda wrote: “Don't you mean science is too rational for some American conservative groups.”

Miranda, certainly there are people with a conservative bent who recognize the validity of science. Jon Huntsman is a Statesman, a term I hardly ever use these days, ran for the Republican Nomination in the run up to the 2012 election stated …in response to perceived anti-science comments by Rick Perry and other Republican presidential candidates, he tweeted: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." He further chided his party by saying the GOP shouldn’t continue to be the anti-science party so clearly not all Republicans are anti science but they are few and very far between and a great many GOP politicians proudly announce their rejection of science because it endears them to Christian Fundamentalist. I strongly suspect many are merely pandering and don’t believe what they say on the stump. So you are correct some American conservatives aren’t anti science but too few to make any difference in Republican politics.

Bert Klein
Bert Klein4 years ago

If anyone wants more references please ask:
The Great Climate Clash -archives December, 2010 , G3 The greenhouse gas effect does not exist.( peer reviewed and revised but not yet released).
Wood is correct: There is no Greenhouse Effect
Posted on July 19, 2011 by Dr. Ed
Repeatability of Professor Robert W. Wood’s 1909 experiment on the Theory of the Greenhouse (Summary by Ed Berry. Full report here or here. & PolyMontana.)
by Nasif S. Nahle, June 12, 2011
University Professor, Scientific Research Director at Biology Cabinet® San Nicolas de los Garza, N. L., Mexico.
many others are available.
The bottom line is that the facts show that the greenhouse gas effect is a fairy-tale and that Man-made global warming is the World larges Scam!!!The IPCC and Al Gore should be charged under the US Anti-racketeering act and when convicted - they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the Crimes they have committed against Humanity.
The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance."
—Albert Einstein
"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb." Benjamin Franklin

Bert Klein
Bert Klein4 years ago

some more of the list of references:
A Joint Research Center of the Law School, the Wharton School,
and the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences
at the University of Pennsylvania
Global Warming Advocacy Science: a Cross Examination
Jason Scott Johnston
May 2010
This paper can be downloaded without charge from the
Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection:
Israeli Astrophysicist Nir Shaviv: 'There is no direct evidence showing that CO2 caused 20th century warming, or as a matter of fact, any warming' link to this paper on climate depot.
Slaying the Sky Dragon - Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory [Kindle Edition]
Tim Ball (Author), Claes Johnson (Author), Martin Hertzberg (Author), Joseph A. Olson (Author), Alan Siddons (Author), Charles Anderson (Author), Hans Schreuder (Author), John O'Sullivan (Author)

Israeli Astrophysicist Nir Shaviv: 'There is no direct evidence showing that CO2 caused 20th century warming, or as a matter of fact, any warming' link to this paper on climate depot
Web- site references: Ponder the Maunder
The Great Climate Clash -archives December, 2010 , G3 The greenhouse gas effect does not exist.( peer reviewed and revised but not yet released).
Wood is correct: There is no Greenhouse Effect
Posted on July 19, 2011 by Dr. Ed

Bert Klein
Bert Klein4 years ago

In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.”

After 1909 when R.W.Wood proved that the understanding of the greenhouse effect was in error and the ghg effect does not exist. After Niels Bohr published his work and receive a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. The fantasy of the greenhouse gas effect should have died in 1909 and 1922. Since then it has been shown by several physicists that the concept is a Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Obviously the politicians don’t give a dam that they are lying. It fits in with what they do every hour of every day .Especially the current pretend president.
Paraphrasing Albert Einstein after the Publishing of “The Theory of Relativity” –one fact out does 1 million “scientist, 10 billion politicians and 20 billion environmental whachos-that don’t know what” The Second Law of thermodynamics” is.

ILEUniversity of Pennsylvania Law School
A Joint Research Center of the Law School, the Wharton School,
and the Department of Economics in the School of Arts and Sciences
at the Univers

Bert Klein
Bert Klein4 years ago

Cletus W: I have only on question for you, Where is there a credible experiment that proves that the greenhouse gas effect exists?
List of references:
The paper "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect within the frame of physics" by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner is an in-depth examination of the subject. Version 4 2009
Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
Scientific Publishing Company,
Report of Alan Carlin of US-EPA March, 2009 that shows that CO2 does not cause global warming.

Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link
that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
from the London, Edinborough and Dublin Philosophical Magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320. Cambridge UL shelf mark p340.1.c.95, i
The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
By Alan Siddons
from: at March 01, 2010 - 09:10:34 AM CST

The below information was a foot note in the IPCC 4 edition. It is obvious that there was no evidence to prove that the ghg effect exists.

“In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could brin

Bert Klein
Bert Klein4 years ago

Thank you Paul B. for you comment on Science: We should be using the following: The meaning of science is that it is never settled!
About the "integrity" of the fraud Bill Nye, here is a link to his Climate 101 fairy tale done for Al Gore and his telatone where Al and Bill tried to steal more money from the public and brainwash the uneducated even more. This experiment at best would have been an example of confined space heating aka the real greenhouse effect not the greenhouse gas effect. As Anthony Watts discovered that the video is totally phony- it was put together on a video editing monitor not in the lab.
Bill Nye is a political hack.

Terry V.
Terry V4 years ago

thank you

Cletus W.
Cletus W.4 years ago

Paul B.'s pebbles of knowledge:

"But you see, in that very statement and others, you are stating that anthropogenic global warming is a reality, when it isn't a "settled fact" at all."

"Science is a rational, logical, but still somewhat subjective analysis of existing facts. we can see what happened, but we can't always explain why, or use history as an always accurate predictor of the future especially when dealing with such a complex environment as nature and climate."

And so he yet again proves himself to be a purposefully ignorant, hyper-partisan-driven lemming of the rightwing underbelly.

When 90% of climate/atmospheric scientists agree with the findings that humans have made a significant contribution to the global temperature rise in the last hundred years, then that is not "settled fact" in the same way that gravity is not a "settled fact" because some physicists continue to explore different interpretations of gravity. If Paul B. wishes to bet on the very fringes of scientific investigation, then he is as welcome to doubt global warming as he is to throw a brick up over his head and make no plans for its landing on his empty head.

'Great White' Earth & Bei
'Great White' 4 years ago

Jess No Fwd Plz K.,

What than you want Capitalist Upper Management and Boards to force science into what they will fund?!?! Plus, 99% of business cannot afford to do good science!

You exactly the problem with Science in The USA!