Quantcast

«

»

Sep 18 2013

Wingnuts: No Science Laureate for You!

If the anti-science agenda of America’s right wing wasn’t crystal clear by now, this should put the nail in the coffin. A bill to create up to three U.S. Science Laureates that was considered so non-controversial that it never even got a committee hearing was squashed when the wingnuts threw a fit about it last week.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives was expected to give swift approval to a bill introduced this spring by a bipartisan coalition of legislators in both the House and the Senate. The legislation would allow the president to name not more than three laureates at a time to an unpaid position that could last up to 2 years. The idea was considered so innocuous that it was to be brought up under special rules requiring a two-thirds majority and allowing no amendments.

The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, 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.”

As opposed to Hart’s view that science should be ignored so that politics can serve corporate ends. That’s so much better.

Supporters say the next step is to take the bill off its fast track and give legislators a chance to debate its merits. “The committee plans to mark up the bill this fall so that Members have an opportunity to offer amendments before reporting the bill back to the full House for consideration,” says a science committee aide. Proponents don’t expect the bill’s substance to change but are hoping that going through the normal process will smooth its passage. “It still seems like a pretty noncontroversial idea,” the Hultgren staffer says.

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.”

Oh yes, you must stop scientists from speaking out. Scientists might actually bring some reality to the table and show that your political positions are intellectually bankrupt. Politics should be left to right-wing preachers and corporate lobbyists, amirite?

22 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    lancifer

    Excuse me Ed, but opposing the creation of a government endorsement for a scientist is hardly “..stop scientists from speaking out.”

    If the Bush administration had advocated appointing three “U.S. Science Laureates” that were amenable to right wing interpretations of the science on controversial topics (such as abortion, environmental issues etc.) I doubt you would feel that Democratic opposition to the idea was “silencing” these scientists.

  2. 2
    brucegee1962

    Yes, I think lancifer has a point. The only way that these appointments would be non-controvertial is in a world where the work of scientists never has political consequences. This would be a world that is far, far removed from the one we occupy. The potential benefits from this proposal are likely to be far outweighed by the potential can of worms, as every appointee gets jumped upon and dissected by the party that’s in opposition to the president. You know it would happen — and once it had happened once, is any reputable scientist going to want to accept this nomination?

  3. 3
    steffp

    @lancifer #1

    Really? Ed was referring to

    “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.”

    Sounds like silencing, doesn’t it?
    And I’m rather curious about scientific controversies about abortion – enlighten me.

  4. 4
    timpayne

    You know steff – that scientific controversy over pre-born babies – when does god give them a soul?

  5. 5
    Abby Normal

    Steffp,
    The most recent example that comes to mind was Rep. Tadd Akin’s claim that a woman’s body can prevent pregnancy if she’s raped. But there are a ton of scientific (or sciency) claims about pregnancy and fetal development out there: the age at which a fetus feels pain, when self-awareness develops, the idea that abortion causes breast cancer. The list goes on.

  6. 6
    colnago80

    Re steffp @ #3

    What Sir Lancelot is really afraid of is that a president might name Michael Mann as a science laureate.

  7. 7
    Modusoperandi

    colnago80 “What Sir Lancelot is really afraid of is that a president might name Michael Mann as a science laureate.”
    Well, he did produce Heat.

  8. 8
    marcus

    @7 And don’t forget Miami Vice!

  9. 9
    loren

    A bill to create up to three U.S. Science Laureates that was considered so non-controversial that it never even got a committee hearing was squashed when the wingnuts threw a fit about it last week.

    Don’t be so quick to cite that procedural detail as proof of the resolution’s merit. Remember the Senate Resolution declaring “Naturopathic Medicine Week”? Which, you may recall, you posted about *earlier today*?

    It was ALSO considered so non-controversial that it never got a committee hearing and was promptly approved (without amendment) by the UNANIMOUS consent of the Senate.

    Also, the science laureate bill isn’t “squashed.” All Larry Hart accomplished, for the moment at least, was to prevent the House from voting on the bill last week. The bill isn’t dead; it just goes back to the committee for approval.

  10. 10
    colnago80

    Hey, Michael Mann, the climate scientist, was an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. Can’t be all bad says fellow Berkeley graduate colnago80.

  11. 11
    Area Man

    The potential benefits from this proposal are likely to be far outweighed by the potential can of worms, as every appointee gets jumped upon and dissected by the party that’s in opposition to the president.

    Sounds suspiciously like the heckler’s veto. If the anti-science right is going to attack every legitimate scientist for speaking the truth, then so be it. Let’s have that fight. The worst thing we could do is let them dictate what is and isn’t allowed for discussion.

  12. 12
    Ichthyic

    Excuse me Ed, but opposing the creation of a government endorsement for a scientist is hardly “..stop scientists from speaking out.”

    Ed was speaking to the motivations of those wanting to quash this bill, NOT to the ability of scientists to speak out.

    but then, you ARE the resident idiot around these parts, so needs must be that this has to be patiently explained to you, since Ed abhors banhammering even idiots like yourself.

  13. 13
    Ichthyic

    Yes, I think lancifer has a point.

    *headdesk*

    lancifer NEVER has a point.

  14. 14
    Ichthyic

    If the Bush administration had advocated appointing three “U.S. Science Laureates”

    one, I would be shocked, given Bush spent most of his 8 years working hard to silence scientific criticism thoughout all federal agencies.

    two, this current bill was NOT introduced or written by the current administration. But I guess your reading comprehension is as good as ever.

  15. 15
    Ichthyic

    The bill isn’t dead; it just goes back to the committee for approval.

    judging by how things seem to NOT be progressing in the House of late, I would not at all be surprised if somehow it ended up being tabled indefinitely in committee.

  16. 16
    andrewryan

    @Modusoperandi #7 Well, he did produce Heat.
    There is no heat! There has been a cooling trend in the past 11 years! etc

  17. 17
    democommie

    “Wingnuts: No Science Laureate for You!”

    Considering the observable level of intellect in the GOP these days, they may well have read, “lariat” and just been pissed that they weren’t invited to the rodeo.

  18. 18
    freehand

    lancifer, there is good science and bad science (or pseudoscience). There is no right wing or left wing science. Do radioisotopes have different half lives for Conservatives? Does lead have a different melting point for liberals?

    When a conservative says something contrary to the evidence or makes a mockery of the scientific method. scientists do not respond “We need liberal interpretations for balance”, they instead say “That is atrocious reasoning, and the evidence you cite has been rejected for not being verifiable.” We don’t need middle-of-the-road science, we need correct science.

    And we do not need petulant children, proud of their ignorance, breaking everything that works. This bill is a trivial matter, but this behavior is symptomatic of a greater problem.

  19. 19
    steffp

    @ timpayne #4
    Ah, that scientific controversy. And I thought Thomas Aquinas (1224–1274) already decided that point once and for all… following Aristotle and the Septuagint (“Human soul when human form”).

    @abbynormal #5
    I did not know that the Hon.Ted Akin was making a scientific statement. Or referring to a scientific controversy. There is no such controversy. It’s theology and wishful thinking vs. science.

    the age at which a fetus feels pain, when self-awareness develops, the idea that abortion causes breast cancer

    The first two are highly speculative themes, The hypothesis that human fetuses are capable of perceiving pain in the early stages of a pregnancy has not received sufficient evidence to be proven or disproven; the developmental stage of research and instrumentation is so far insufficient to this task.(Wiki) Still more so for “self-awareness. The abortion-breast cancer connection is a political concept, not a controversy.
    It’s pretty strange that conservatives, contrary to their authoritarian mindset, seek to discredit overwhelming scientific consensus, i.e. proven authority, favoring pseudo-science of whacky dissenters instead.

  20. 20
    lancifer

    freehand,

    You gave that straw man a good bashing.

    Having a government endorsed “Science Laureate” is a useless waste of both the government’s and the scientist’s time. Scientific inquiry is correct or incorrect regardless of whether a government body endorses it or not.

    If you think that career politicians are going to appoint theses scientists based solely on the quality of their work and their contribution to science you are a naive person indeed.

    Take a good look at President Obama’s “science adviser” John Holdren if you need evidence of just the kind of politically motivated hacks that are chosen for these positions.

  21. 21
    democommie

    “If you think that career politicians are going to appoint theses scientists based solely on the quality of their work and their contribution to science you are a naive person indeed.”

    From a guy who then tears into a scientist whom he dislikes because of his stance on global warming.

    Whankery, they name is Lancifer. What a fucking douchetool you truly are.

  22. 22
    colnago80

    Re democommie

    Sir Lancelot’s notions of good scientists consist of Pat Michaels, Anthony Watts, and Ben Carson.

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site