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Mar 17 2012

Newt Gingrich schools “The Left” on scientific credibility

The moral and ethical trainwreck that is Newton Three-wives Gingrich took to the podium this week and let us lefties have it over our stubborn unwillingness to accept modern science and the spirit of discovery. I kid you not.

(RightWingWatch) — The Left has believed for at least forty years now in a concept called Peak Oil that says ‘gee, we’re about to run out.” Well, it turns out that our reserves in the US, because of new technology, which is something that the Left rejects – they don’t believe the Wright Brothers invented flying, they don’t believe Edison invented electric light, and they don’t believe we’re about to invent the next generation of interesting things.

Well golly-gee-willickers, Leroy, I’ve seen that there artificial lightning at the state fay-er, but what does that have to do with candle lanterns and who is this Edison feller? /hick

For starters, I’m pretty sure the Wright Brothers didn’t invent flying. Jesus, there were flying insects back in the Carboniferous Period, which means, for the fundie crowd Gingrich was trying to reach anyway, flying predates the Wright Brothers by hundreds of years. But if you want to get technical about it, there were definitely some intrepid humans flying before the Wright Brothers, we have photographs and newspaper accounts of this, and in some cases we even have the machines used on display. They just didn’t fly far, or very well, and those brief flights often ended abruptly and badly.

Sat update: And as Tis Himself links in comments below, the Wright’s put together a heck of a lightweight engine, too. Another critical development in powered flight. — DS

We can give the Wright Brothers credit where credit is due: they invented a reliable, workable system to precisely control their flying machines, converting them from a near certain death ride into what we would all recognize as an airplane. It’s not the system of movable control tabs on the wings and tail widely used today, but it worked beautifully, and being able to safely steer your airplane in three dimensions was a pretty damn important development in aviation no matter how it was done.

And does Gingrich even know what Peak Oil means, that it’s a tried and true empirical data set based on simple facts of petrology and extraction techniques, or that it’s used by reservoir managers all over the world to maximize yield and profit margin? Because the way Newt used that term, it sounds like the good Professor may have confused Peak Oil with oil depletion.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    blindrobin

    Frustraitin’ ain’t it, listenin’ to frauds, hucksters and snake oil salesman, not to mention them tent revival preachers suckin’ the very life outa folk in town after town and not a one of their marks listenin’ to reason no matter how loud we yell. One gets that sinkin’ feelin’ in the pit of yer gut when the realization hits you that all those marks at some level know that they’ve been taken in but actually like it that way because when things go horribly, horribly wrong as they are wont to do, they can plead ignorance and point a finger at that man that told them how everything worked.

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    Actually the Wrights’ major invention was an engine with a low enough weight to power ratio to effectively power an aircraft. The Wrights had been building gliders for years. They put their engine in their best glider and the first practical heavier-than-air airplane was made.

    Wright Aeronautical Corporation (now a division of Curtiss-Wright Corp) didn’t make aircraft but instead made engines. The Wright Cyclone engine, in various models, was used extensively during and after World War II, powering B-17s, B-25s, B-29s, SBD Dauntless and SB2C Helldiver dive bombers, TBF/TBM Avenger torpedo bombers, and Lockheed Constellation airliners.

    An aircraft with an alternate power system.

  3. 3
    Deen

    Because nano tech batteries and solar cells, or smart grids, are just so much more primitive than internal combustion engines…

  4. 4
    davidct

    In spite of cries about the price of gas, I still see the majority of vehicles where I live to be full size pickups and big SUVS. As long as Gingrich is in denial about how an increase in production will lead to a decrease in cost he is unlikely to to get the price down as he is to move to the moon. He omits the part of the equation about an increase in demand due to an improving economy. We are currently a net exporter of gasoline. In spite of new technologies we no longer control the world price domestically.

    I believe that Santos Dumont made an earlier powered flight. I don’t know how much longer he stayed alive since he was quite a daredevil. He did not continue to make new planes to follow up on his success.

  5. 5
    Reginald Selkirk

    Not to mention that all the Republican candidates have bragged about how they would have blown up Iran by now; I’m sure that would be great for gas prices.
    .
    Did you get your openly racist anti-Obama bumper stickers before the site got shut down?

  6. 6
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    For starters, I’m pretty sure the Wright Brothers didn’t invent flying.

    Why does everyone forget the Montgolfier brothers and their ballons? Not all human flight is in heavier than air craft after all!

  7. 7
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Balloons ..durnit.

  8. 8
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @4. davidct :

    I believe that Santos Dumont made an earlier powered flight. I don’t know how much longer he stayed alive since he was quite a daredevil. He did not continue to make new planes to follow up on his success.

    I believe the saying is that wiki is your friend? See :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Santos-Dumont

    A bit of a tragic life story really and he seems to have been a really good as well as an unfortunate, eccentric and daring man.

    There is indeed argument over whether Santos=Dumonts 14 bis (a.k.a. Oiseau de proie French for “bird of prey”) or the Wright brothers Flyer 1 was the first heavier than air craft to fly.

  9. 9
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Not to worry, StevoR. “Ballons” is what the Montgolfiers themselves would have called them.

  10. 10
    sailor1031

    Santos-Dumont made a first dirigible flight over Paris in 1901, I believe, proving that controlled flight (as opposed to uncontrolled balloon flight) was possible. The Wright’s flew in 1903 and SD’s 14-bis flew in 1906. But it had an undercarriage and made the first self-takeoff and landing. The Wrights had used sleds and, later, catapults for take off. I think the requirement to takeoff by itself was a rule of the Paris aero club and so they recogised the 14-bis flight as the first powered flight.

    In any case neither the Wrights nor Santos-Dumont would have flown without all the earlier work of, among others, Lilienthal and Langley. As for the invention of flght – clearly the credit goes to Daedalus….

  11. 11
    nathanlevesque

    Edison didn’t invent “electric light”, he invented a better light bulb. Not even the light bulb, just a better one. Not the same thing…Kind of curious why you didn’t pounce on that one since it would have taken a mere paragraph to so.

  12. 12
    shouldbeworking

    And IIRC, Edison didn’t invent the better electric bulb, some employee did and Edison got the credit and the profits. In the best tradition of the magical Marketpace that the rethugican party praises so highly.

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