Science cartoons for freedom!

By Phil Plait | May 21, 2008 5:04 pm

Are you funny? Can you draw? Do you like science? Do you hate it when antiscience nimrods interfere with it?

Prove it. Go to Science Idol, submit your cartoon about political intereference with science, win $500 and a trip to DC, then come back here and report it.

You have until the deadline of June 11. Start drawing!


Comments (25)

  1. Gary Mcleod

    I’d love to enter this contest (I have worked as a cartoonist) but, once again, I’m stymied by the fact it is only open to U.S. citizens. Not fair! :(

  2. Kyle

    Well send your cartoon to me and I’ll submit it for you. Only a small fee I promise, say 77.5456755466% of the winnings? 😉

  3. Crux Australis

    Hmmm…77.5456755466% = $387.7328777?

    Where in pi do either of those strings occur? :-)

  4. Tim G

    The Grand Prize includes the choice of either $500 and an all-expenses paid trip to DC or $800. I’d wire Gary 90% of that $800.

    I’m not going to let anyone give me flack about submitting a non-U.S. citizen’s concept as I am promoting the free exchange of ideas. Well, free with a nominal fee.

    Check out last year’s finalist entries.

  5. Nathan Myers

    You do know that a nimrod is an angel of vengeance, right? (No, that’s not ironic either.)

  6. Hoonser

    This’ll be an easy contest to win. Considering absolutely every entry will be about creationism. Oh wait, it’s only open to Yanks.

    Typical closed border thinking of the scientific community. I hate science now.

  7. jokergirl

    Grr, I got all fired up but it’s only open to USA citizens. You could have put a warning on the post… 😛
    But I’m not sure if I could have produced anything funny anyway, seeing as the topic is a lot more tragic than comic.


  8. Fauxnetikz

    To answer the questions:

    I’d like to think so, No, Yes, Yes.

    But since when has the inability to draw ever stopped people from making money? Just look at 90% of today’s animated TV shows.

    Hmm…I’ve already seen DC though :-

  9. I am occasionally funny, love science, and hate it when antiscience nimrods interfere with it. But, sadly, I can’t draw. And I live outside of DC, so that’s not much of a draw – no pun intended…

  10. KaiYves

    I have an idea, but it’s super lame and probably been done before.

  11. JackC

    For a very long time (conceived back when the HST was announced, I have had a vision for one such cartoon – but I am utterly unable to realise it – so I set it out here for anyone who wishes to take it.

    Astronomers using Hubble image an odd regular shape at immense distance. Several panels resolve the image into a rectangular shape, finally to black text on white background that reads, as if through glass on the opposite side “Please: Keep this door closed!”

    I was younger at the time…..


  12. Well I do have a knack for drawing pretty graphs, does that count?

  13. Pat

    Might take a stab – been about ten years since I cartooned, but science was a subject.

  14. StevoR

    Another non-Yankee citizen so ineligiable & can’t draw anyhow although I like to think I’m funny .. sometimes – hopefully when I’m trying to be! 😉

    Now I fear this is bad netiquette but I also fear that no-one (other than me) is reading the “Red Dwarf that Roared” (EV Lacertae) thread anymore & I’d really, really like to ask :

    BA : Any idea what magnitude EV Lacertae would reached at maximum for the mega-flare? Any chance of it repeating so massive a flare perhaps even at semi-regular~ish intervals and is it thus worth still keeping an eye out for?

    … & get an answer of course! Whether here, there or anywhere …

    Am I the only one that goes back & reads & even comments on days old (even weeks old) threads here?

    Hmmm .. I’ll offer this cartoon idea free of charge to any who wants :

    Panel 1. Preacher ranting about the wrath of god falling on any scientist who … (insert idea X)

    Panel 2. Scientist thinks : “Wrath of god? Hah! Lets show you the wrath of science!”

    Panel 3. Thought-bubble from scientist to that image of EV Lacertae flaring up
    – and microscope insert of planet Erath just to one side
    … and microscope comic of preachers terrified face
    … > & comic flash-> burn -> pile of ash sequence

    as the flare fries the bible-thumper! 😉

    I can’t draw it myself – but I’d love to see done by someone who can! 😉

    8) Thanks y’all!

  15. StevoR

    & That image of Ev Lacertae flaring up (& the accompanyinmg article by the Bad Astronomer himself and comments thread is here :

    Although I guess you’d need the artists permission to use in any cartoon along my suggested lines. 😉

    (Hope putting this link to that other “Roaring Red Dwarf” thread etc .. is okay here netiquette~wise – if not my apologies & please let me know ‘coz I’m not really all that well up on all that sorta jazz okay ..? )

    Thanks for your forebearance y’all!

  16. StevoR

    Well I’ve just added a return link from the Red Dwarf linked comments back to this page so that folks can go in circles : Here to there to here to there, etc .. If they actually want to! 😉

    Or, more sanely, they can just use it to return once after checking it out! 😉

    Hope that’s good manners computer / net /this blogosphere~wise & again, apologies if not & please let me know.

    Plus whatever the case :

    THX for your patience & special thanks & congrats to Phil Plait for my all-time favourite blog! :-)

    (I’ve said that before & will no doubt say it again. It remains true & I just like to remind him & y’all on intermittant occassions. )

  17. Quiet_Desperation

    Entries should not exceed 500 KB in size and must be a resolution of 72 DPI.

    I was all ready to go when I saw this. Crap, I thought by cartoon they meant something animated. I can’t draw, but I do know how to use animation tools. :-( Oh well…

    And they know digital images don’t really have an intrinsic resolution, right? I know Photoshop and other programs can attach an imposed DPI value, but it’s just a definition that defines how large it will print out.

  18. PR1ME

    Did anyone else read the UCS’ a-to-z list of issues being interfered with and notice a pattern?

    Try it for yourselves:

    Their criticism of political interference is strictly limited to interference by right-wingers in research supporting left-wing causes and policies.

    Yes, yes, I know: they’re concerned about Dubya micromanaging to support his insupportable religious premises. But surely in a long A-Z list, at a time when “the next president” will likely be a democrat, there should be exceptions to that pattern. Surely the left side of the political spectrum also has an agenda, and also manipulates science so as to advance that agenda. And surely honest scientists would also be concerned about that. Yet I couldn’t find example of it. Not a single break in the pattern.

    And before I leave the soapbox… it always astonishes me when I encounter the sheer naivete which enables presumably intelligent, objective and educated people to believe that corporate-funded science is inherently untrustworthy, susceptible to being twisted to serve the agenda of it’s underwriters–while simultaneously believing that federally funded science is by some magical, unnamed, unexamined and unexemplified process, safely immune from the same corruption.

    And all of this, in spite of the concrete fact that most if not all of the UCS’ list is supportive of research which mostly increases governmental activity and job security, and critical of “interference” which, regardless of its impropriety, would in most cases decrease or preclude such activity and job security.

    The UCS has a clear agenda, and it is not science. Because SCIENCE rejects any and all interference, and can’t afford to be selective about which.

    If you recognize that science is in danger when it becomes politicized, you might imagine it’s prognosis when only one side of the political spectrum controls it.

  19. PR1ME, I agree with you, and have seen this same thing at my University. The problem, I think, is it turns into a culture war between left-wing and right-wing ideologies, or those perceived to belong to those ideologies.
    Obviously my friends are not a good representation of U.S. population, since they are determined by my own personality/beliefs, but I have 4 close friends who are outspokenly conservative, and none of them believe creationism, or god at all for that matter, and I have about 10 close friends who are outspoken liberals, and half of them actually believe the creation fable, and more than that consider themselves “Christian.” So to begin dividing people by scientific knowledge AND political views is quite detrimental, and only serves to alienate allies.

    One of my favorite professors frequently made fun of the “religious right” and pointed out various reasons Christian beliefs are ridiculous – and I loved his points (I hate religion), but he probably turned many people off by not simply saying the “religious” and the leaving political half open. As I said, I know more liberal Christians then conservative Christians. Though politicians try and make it so, tax policy, foreign policy, and religion are not all magically connected.

    Another professor, in a class about “power relationships” was discussing how wrong the man-woman power dynamic is in society, considering “science has proven there is no difference between men and women, outside of the differences imposed by culture.”
    Obviously, science has NOT proven this (simple comparative anatomy is enough to demonstrate this), yet the comment was presented as factual. This is a clear case of a “left-wing” twisting of science, yet these are left unassailed, as they are “politically correct.”

    However, all misrepresentations of science are intellectually backward, and must be defended against.

    I hate the Republican party and large swathes of the conservative movement more than most, but watching NASCAR does not equate to creationism. Obviously in many parts of the country (especially the south), the religious movement has worked hard to associate patriotism, freedom, and religion together, but this does not mean these things are ACTUALLY related (in fact, loyalty to an Israelite god would be anti-patriotism).

    The Church of Scientology has corrupted many police officers to harass their enemies, but this does not mean police officers = scientologists.

    I think for the current “wave of reason” to continue to spread and gain support, we must be sure we stick to reason and science, and avoid the pitfalls of religious us-vs-them thinking.

  20. Joker

    One of my favorite professors frequently made fun of the “religious right” …

    Or as sane folks more accurately call ’em “the religious WRONG!”

    Good for your fave professor, 8)
    I hope he continues to give teh fools (non-religious) hell! 😉

  21. Deir Yassin's ghosts

    “Obviously in many parts of the country (especially the south), the religious movement has worked hard to associate patriotism, freedom, and religion together, but this does not mean these things are ACTUALLY related (in fact, loyalty to an Israelite god would be anti-patriotism).”


    Blind, excessive, bigoted loyalty to the apartheid military theocracy of Israel is really badly hurting the interests, reputation, credibility and even nature of the United States of America.

    I keep wondering when the American people will actually wake up to this truth – seems they never do – but then the media is controlled (very largely) by Jewish companies and individuals. (Just like your foreign policy has been hijacked by fundamentalist Jewish & extremist Israeli thugs & their neo-con servants.)

    I won’t hgo further off topic except to say :

    “Well said & about time! Its all too bleeding true!”

  22. StevoR

    To quote Pink Floyd :

    “Is there anybody out there?”

    Any cartoonists read my post and think of trying my idea or some variant thereof??

    Bad Astronomer are you there? Did you see my EV Lacertae query posted a way above? Could you please let me know if you are or aren’t going to answer it? :-(

  23. StevoR

    … Please … ???

  24. StevoR

    Andy Thanks for your response on the EV Lacertae (“roaring Red Dwarf”) thread.

    It hasn’t answered my question – but it was appreciated. :-)

  25. PR1ME

    Will, religion is anti-science at it’s core because the core of science is reason, and the core of religion is faith.

    Of course religion is an easy target. But I’d suggest to make sure to target all religions–not equally–but appropriately to the threat they pose to reason and to peaceful co-existence. Science can’t exist without both of those things, and even technology degrades without them (i.e. the Soviets). Christianity is a definite threat, and it’s all around us in the West, but far worse are immoral and irrational abominations like Scientology and Islam. Both are struggling for political power over science, technology and the entire culture, and neither has had it’s reformaton yet.

    But as bad as they are, they are all visible and largely external enemies–they come at you more or less face to face. Worse even than them are the ‘inside men’, the trusted but untrustworthy keepers or guardians who betray what they’re supposed to keep safe from betrayal. Like the conservatives. Or the UCS.

    That old saying, “keep your enemies close, and keep your friends closer” is probably good to bear in mind here.

    And I feel your pain about your professors. It absolutely galls me that they would stand in front of young men and women, tell them that there is no such thing as men and women–and expect the men and women to BELIEVE it. That kind of thing is either the most nihilistic attack possible against the human mind, or the most brilliant psychological experiment whose results remain unpublished. Would any of us want to live in a society which required, or even tolerated, lies and tactics like that?

    If you have never read “1984”, now is a good time. (You might see if there’s a campus Objectivist club around too, and see if that interests you.)

    Back in the late 80s a little bimbo “TA” told my sociology class–yes, I was young and dumb and took a sociology class, so I got what I deserved–anyway, she said, “Private property is unnatural. Look at animals; they don’t have private property.” I remember sitting there thinking, “Does this mean you’d invade a bear cave because it’s yours too?” (These days I’d raise my hand and ask it aloud. And point out that there’s a zoo nearby where we can test it. And that we should. We really, really should.) Did she actually expect that nobody there could think of that? –that none of us knew to avoid bear caves? That none of us had pets and saw their territorialism over places, and their jealousy over toys and food dishes–that none of us had seen that with our own eyes? Or did she just expect that we couldn’t put together in our minds the things we see?

    I think such “professors” intend to distract their victims with non-essentials, trivia which is completely beside the point. To wit: ‘culture influences behavior, and men and women can TRY to BEHAVE alike, therefore we’re alike [so therefore you should accept my political goal of destroying all masculine traits, especially ‘outmoded’ things like strength, courage, honor and individualism, and once they’re safely gone, you’ll accept my end-goal of replacing “warlike male rule” with smothering nanny-state female rule].’

    And: ‘animals can’t actually FORMALIZE ownership, therefore they don’t actually practice it [so therefore you should lower your own standards to those of the even-lower-than-in-real-life animals which I myself have invented, and once you’ve done that, you’ll finally be ready to accept my glorious communism, which I’ve been openly and explicitly pushing on you all semester].’

    Those are some of the teachers in our institutions of ‘higher’ learning. The keepers and guardians of knowledge.

    Keep your friends closer…

    — PR1ME


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