The US Congress Anti-Science Committee

By Phil Plait | October 6, 2012 7:00 am

[NB: As always with posts like this, I strongly urge you to read my note about posts covering politics and religion as well as my commenting policy before leaving a comment.]

Not too long ago, I (and pretty much the whole internet) wrote about the ridiculous and honestly offensive statements made by Representative Todd Akin (R-MO). His knowledge – or really, the profound lack thereof – of female anatomy made him the laughing stock of the planet. But I wasn’t laughing. I was, and still am, furious. And not just because of what he said, but also because he is a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

That anyone could spew such obvious and awful nonsense about biology and anatomy and yet sit on the US Congress’s science committee is, simply put, an outrage.

I also pointed out he’s not alone. In that article I devoted just one line to Representative Paul Broun (R-GA), saying how he was a creationist and also sits on that same science committee… but I think it’s time we take a second look at Congressman Broun.

Why?

In late September, Rep. Broun made a speech at the Liberty Baptist Church’s Sportsman’s banquet in Hartwell, Georgia. In this speech he said many, many things, including this:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

[The whole talk is online at YouTube.]

Sadly, that kind of antiscientific nonsense is de rigueur for a lot of folks these days, even ones who sit in Congress. But then, to close the deal, he goes on:

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Two points: one is that all Congresscritters, upon entering office, have to swear to uphold the Constitution, and the second is that this document is pretty clear about legislating religion. In fact, Supreme Court judge Hugo Black said about this topic, "Government must be neutral among religions and nonreligion: it cannot promote, endorse, or fund religion or religious institutions."

Rep. Broun’s words don’t sound terribly neutral to me.

You may disagree with me about the shaky ground (like Richter 10 shaky) Broun stands on Constitutionally, but there is no doubt – none – that he is 100% completely off the rails with his science. The Big Bang is "straight from the pit of hell"? It’s bad enough that anyone would actually believe something like that, let alone a Congressman, but I will remind you he sits on the House science committee!

And he sits there with Akin. And Brooks. And Hall. And Rohrabacher.

These are the men whom the Republican majority placed on that committee. Men who think global warming is a fantasy. Men who think women have magic vaginas. Men who think the Earth is thousands, not billions, of years old.

I have my issues with Obama right now, which in truth are dwarfed by my issues with Romney. But remember that come November 6 of this year in the US we’ll be voting for members of Congress as well. And the majority party decides who sits on what committee, and those people will in turn decide what to legislate: reality, or fantasy.

The choice, quite literally, is yours. Choose well.

Tip o’ the gavel to TPM via CCounterman.


Related Posts:

Akin breakin’ science
Followup: Rep. Ralph Hall’s unbelievable statement on science funding bill
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA): on climate change, makes wrong even wronger
Next up for Congress: repeal the law of gravity

Comments (162)

  1. OK, Phil, I’m with you all the way on this except for one part – I think vaginas ARE magical. :)

  2. Bjoern

    And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.

    So Mr. Broun is not aware that not only the catholic church, but also many protestant denominations accept both the theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory? Or does he choose to ignore that…?

  3. Paul Parkinson

    As a Brit, all I can say is (a) America will get the government it deserves and (2) this scares the rest of the world.

    Obama ain’t perfect – but he’s smart and he’s not as mad as a box of wasps…

  4. copernicus34

    from the book on how to achieve web hits; simply turn a science blog into a political blog, bingo….web hits

  5. Bjoern, I think it’s likely that Broun thinks that the catholic church and mainstream protestant denominations aren’t really Christian.

  6. soft lame weak

    Boo hoo — I want my funding but I don’t want any dirty stupid proles or know nothing dummies in politics! Welcome to America dawg. You just get here or something?

    Wait maybe these guys are smarter than libural hissy fit throwers? Marc Anthony’s arguments weren’t A+ quality, but the man knew how to move a mob.

  7. In the words of Brian Cox: “It’s not acceptable to not understand what the difference is between data, modeling, and political statements”.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7BTqKeP6Ks

  8. cosmicJC

    “But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society.”

    Strange, I must have missed the part where the Bible gives morally sound teachings regarding rape and slavery.

  9. This is why I can never in good conscience vote for a member of the GOP. They continue with their anti-reality stance, and as such they don’t deserve to inhabit the world where the rest of us deal with facts and evidence…

    By the way, it seems that there is quite a correlation between conservatism and distrust off science. That is something that needs to be fixed!

    http://www.asanet.org/images/journals/docs/pdf/asr/Apr12ASRFeature.pdf

  10. Geo

    It would be great if people could vote against him. However, I looks like the Democrats have abandoned this part of the country as there is NOBODY RUNNING AGAINST HIM! Skeptics and Pro-Science people need to GET ORGANIZED AND VOTE THESE MORONS OUT!

  11. VinceRN

    Congresscritters are generally going to take the views of the folks that elected them to Washington. Fortunately there are only a few as bad as this clown out of hundreds, and he doesn’t have the power to do what he wants to. Or, who knows, perhaps he turns out to be Nehemiah Scudder.

    Sadly being qualified is one sure way not to get assigned to a congressional committee. This is not a problem limited to science.

    @4 copernicus34 – You haven’t been reading this blog for long, have you? It is mostly science, but has always had a leavening of politics as well as general geekery and even occasional art or other stuff. Get over it, it’s his blog and he can rant about whatever he wants, that’s what blog are for.

  12. Happy Heyoka

    All that stuff I was taught about […] the Big Bang Theory

    sheesh, it’s just a TV show :-P

    Seriously, from this distance (Australia) it seems that a fair chunk of the Republicans are, ah, in error as regards the scientific data on a number of issues… but surely they can’t all be?
    (Not that we don’t suffer from some of that here)

    Perhaps those of you who vote Republican could write to their potential representatives and get them to clarify their position and perhaps agitate for a more reasonable representative?

  13. Chris

    Wait, I thought the young Earth creationists thought the Earth was 6000 years old, now it’s 9000! They can’t even get their made up facts straight.

    If you remember back to the GOP presidential primaries, only one candidate said he believed in evolution and trusted scientists on global warming. That was Jon Huntsman and we all saw what happened to him.

    I went to Catholic grade and high school. I remember in 1st grade asking the nun teacher when she was talking about the soul, where is it, what does it look like? I was asking for empirical proof, she couldn’t offer any. Recently a college professor friend recounted when one of his students said he was having a hard time believing that galaxies could actually be that far away. He told him you can always go and check other scientists work, people believe in God with no empirical evidence (it’s all circumstantial hearsay evidence) and there is no way to independently verify God.

    The Bible even says “You shall not put God to the test.”

    For my own class when talking about the scientific method, I say that miracles do not count as proof, it must be reproducible. Just because a baby survived falling out the window and the media reports it does not mean some supernatural power was at work. We have 7 billion people on the planet, given enough time, weird stuff will happen that seems to defy the odds. The media won’t tell you about the babies which didn’t survive, only the one in a million shot. And given 7 billion people, miracles happen a few thousand times per day.

  14. When a politician comes out with this kind of nonsense, there should be calls for them to undergo a psychological evaluation and release the results (using the very fine, single-payer health plan that we taxpayers provide them). I’m absolutely serious, because it’s dangerous for someone to wield the keys to government while not possessing a firm grasp of reality. In fact, I would support requiring every candidate for federal office to undergo and release an evaluation. Maybe a math and history test, also.

  15. Fizz

    It is a shame that the Republican party tolerates this kind of nonesensical illiteracy. Not all Republicans are so biblically literal, such as McCain, Guiliani, Huntsman, even Romney. Many Republicans stood up against Akin, called for him to drop out, etc. But we need more to stand up against guys like Broun.

    It would be nice if both political parties realized that 75% of America is in the middle, and stop pandering to the extreme 12.5% on either extreme.

  16. Jess Tauber

    Combine the full range of cognitive styles and intellectual capacities with freedom by teachers and preachers to inject their own distorted opinions into their student’s minds and you end up all this nonsense ‘trickling UP’ the chain of command all the way to government. Real scientists should run the world, or at least be the real powers behind the throne ready to intervene every time the idiocracy rears its ugly head. Eternal whackamole is the price of freedom.

  17. @11. Geo
    That will need a revolution.

    My comment:
    The moment he finds out he has cancer he´ll muscle his way through the entrance hall of the hospital. Demanding the best of what SCIENCE has to offer for him.
    In short he is a total hypocrite.
    Which is clearly shown by his FAKE WHITE CAPPED TEETH.
    Which on itself is vanity. (i.e. a sin).
    Anyway. He only says things like that because then he is sure of the knitting-vote (the old ladies who like things like this).

    He should lose his “dr” for this.
    How can you be a “dr” if you are not a real scientist?
    All these people, like him, who are “dr” should immediatly renounce their “dr-ship”
    Since they don´t believe in “dr´s”
    But nooooo… the “dr” in front of their name gives them some credibility. So even when they say science is BS, the´ll stick to their “dr” (that not only makes them a hypocrite, but also a liar).

    So kick them out of the scientific community.
    He is no longer a “dr”.

    Oh damn, then he´ll start he´s being prosecuted and even gain more votes of the stupid.

    I want a red button. I really do.
    *starts praying for one*

    In short: people like him don´r deserve a place in a science commitee

  18. slsharris

    I do hope that he’s using the whole Bible as his “manufacturer’s handbook.” I hope that he’s keeping kosher, and if his parents did not have him circumcized — run, don’t walk — go now and get it done!!! I hope that if he has a widowed sister-in-law that he’s included her among his wives and has gotten her pregnant in order to keep the line going. And that book is really going to be handy in his learning about being good and fair in his treatment of his slaves.

    You can’t pick and choose what you belive from the Bible without it being tainted by personal judgement. You can’t pick and choose facts from scientific theory and experimental protocol and be accurate. BOTH don’t work.

  19. Renee Marie Jones

    The active and willful ignorance that Mr Broun displays is all too common these days. That, as much as anything, I think, is responsible for the mess we find ourselves in. You simply cannot have a working democracy when half your population is disconnected from reality. For a time, we can maintain our survival in spite of our irrationality. Eventually, though, reality will always win. We think of ourselves as a successful species, but that simply shows our own short-sightedness. We have not been here very long, and the way we are going we may not be here much longer. Right now our species looks like a failed experiment, come and gone in a flash, with only crumbling ruins as our legacy.

  20. This post is about science: He’s talking about a person who sits on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee who clearly either doesn’t understand — or just disagrees with — accepted science. Choosing to believe the Earth is 9,000 years old when there is no scientific fact to support that is a strong indicator that the Congressman might not be suited to make educated decisions about science policy. Below is the “jurisdiction” of the group Phil is talking about. Some of it sounds rather important:

    “The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has jurisdiction over all energy research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefor, and all federally owned or operated non-military energy laboratories; astronautical research and development, including resources, personnel, equipment, and facilities; civil aviation research and development; environmental research and development; marine research; commercial application of energy technology; National Institute of Standards and Technology, standardization of weights and measures and the metric system; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; National Weather Service; outer space, including exploration and control thereof; science scholarships; scientific research, development, and demonstration, and projects therefor. The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology shall review and study on a continuing basis laws, programs, and Government activities relating to non-military research and development.”

  21. Mr von Broun (pun intended) is ofcourse a great liebhaber of new weapon systems. In that sense science is great in his eyes.

  22. “You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth.”

    Scientist?? He’s a Medical Doctor!!

    I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t let me (a physicist/astronomer/meteorologist) perform medicine and operate on people, so he shouldn’t be allowed to dictate policy on science, the universe and climate change.

    And the really sad part… out of 36 current members, on the Republican side of the committee there are 5 medical doctors (Broun included)… on the Democrat side you have Donna Edwards, who worked on the Spacelab program, Jerry McNerney, who has a PhD in Mathematics, and Frederica Wilson, who has a Masters in Science. The rest are all lawyers and theology majors.

    We scientists REALLY have to jump into the political game. I’m not a US citizen, so I can’t help out there, but I should run for office here in Canada.

    What do you think, Phil? Want to get into politics?

  23. Three words: Elections. Have. Consequences.

  24. Tim Gaede

    It’s over 9000.

    Waaaaaaaaaay over 9000.

  25. Gaythia

    @11 Geo is correct in noting that no one is running against Rep. Broun, and I agree that the Democrats should have continued to embrace Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy, and at least found someone to run here as part of an educational process.

    However, as Phil Plait notes above, ” the majority party decides who sits on what committee” and so all House elections will affect the impact that Broun will have on the country.

    In terms of what is “rather important” about Rep. Broun’s activities, as noted in a general fashion @21 by SkyGazer, currently he appears to be working to establish his oversight over the EPA study of the environmental impacts of open pit mining in salmon rich Bristol Bay Alaska. See this Anchorage Daily News editorial opposing his actions: http://www.adn.com/2012/08/13/2587259/our-view-pebble-and-politics.html

  26. Chris

    And if you were to tell people how Doctor Who is your own personal savior, they’d call you nuts.

    You know, not saying there is a devil or anything, but I wonder if these religious types ever consider that they may not be doing God’s work, but may be actually deceived by the devil. God is supposed to be all loving, yet they constantly rationalize being hateful to folks who are different from them.

  27. Marina Stern

    #15 Bob F., the old Soviet Union used to do exactly that. They locked up dissidents in insane asylums (I refuse to call them mental hospitals), until they were “cured,” meaning that they decided to toe the Soviet line.

    The problem with letting the Government decide who is sane, and and therefore able to participate in Government, will always result in the perpetuation of the current regime.

  28. For those saying he is running unopposed in November, remember: the majority party puts people on committees. Even if Broun wins, if the Dems can get a majority they’ll pull him from the committee, or at least he’ll have a significantly reduced voice.

  29. Craig

    Straight from the pit of hell, huh? Interesting, considering one of the Big Bang theory’s earliest supporters was a catholic priest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaître

  30. Daniel J. Andrews

    Of the young earth creationists, only a minority insist on a 6000 year old earth. Many recognize that there are assumptions in the chronology so they add a few thousand years to account for the uncertainty. Most seem to hit a date between 8000-12,000. A smaller number may go into the 20,000 range and perhaps up to 50,000-100,000. Then you have the ones who may think the earth is young, but the universe is millions to maybe billions of years old (my brother, for example).

    I chatted with his grown son the other night, and he started talking about how cool it was that dinosaurs had feathers. As we talked, it was apparent that while he has strong religious beliefs like his parents he was quite comfortable with an ancient earth and evolving life forms. It wasn’t even a big deal for him, that is, not any crisis of faith or lies from the pit of hell. That was encouragingly as he came to these conclusions without any real background in science outside of high school and general light reading.

  31. MaDeR

    Two parties changing power hand to hand every few years, always republicans on one side and always democrats on other side, almost indistinguishable from each other, rotten with corruption, loonery and incomptenece forever.

    I consider your system corrupted pseudo-democracy. Have fun with your menaningless elections. If I was USA citizen, I would vote for Cthulhu.

  32. Kathleen Bombach

    I grew up in central Texas, and listened to this kind of nonsense all my young life. When I taught at UT, many of my students believed that men had one less rib than women did because God used Adam’s rib to make Eve, giving men an odd number of ribs. I remember their shock when I challenged them to count their ribs to see that they had an even number just like the women students did.

  33. Zathras

    @23 Scott: Jerry McNerney represents the district next door to mine; he’s a bit on the quiet side, but he’s a DAMN smart guy.

    What massively annoys and disgusts me about reports like this is that the Republican party back in the days before Reagan (and even when Reagan was elected in 1980) was the party of SCIENCE. They generally stood for more R&D and better education. Nowdays many of these nitwits (like Phil’s example here, and the GOP platform in general) can’t even pass a basic elementary school science test, as evidenced by their own public statements.

    Additionally, the best Christian I ever knew (a now-retired Presbyterian pastor) was:
    a) A BIG believer in and enthusiast of science (and astronomy in particular)
    b) Looked at the evidence of science as making God and His universe that much bigger and more awesome (Rev. Bill’s nearly exact words)
    c) Was very willing to see what wisdom he could find from other faith traditions as well..not just dismiss them as unholy and evil (like Phil’s example congressnitwit seems to)

    Seems to me that the “christian god” (and yes, I did intentionally put that in lower case) that this congressnitwit follows lives in a mighty small, mean, and vindictive universe.

    Zathras

  34. SelectiveOutrage

    I wonder how many people on that committee profess the belief in a supernatural skygod?

    Did you happen to see the recent Gallop poll showing just how few Americans would vote for an atheist? Razib posted it recently on GeneExpression.

    Lack of reason, inconsistent rationality, and abuse of the scientific method isn’t limited to one party. At that point, it’s about weighing depth of hypocrisy and selective outrage if one only rants against one party.

    I frankly don’t see how young earth idiocy makes any difference to what these legislators are tasked with voting on, certainly no different than the scientifically unsupportable god fetish. Following the logic here, we must then invalidate all Democrats who believe in sky gods too then, no? Have they not demonstrated their inability to be rational and scientific?

  35. Chris

    Sadly the folks running for Congress tend to be those who crave power or need their ego stroked. This usually isn’t the personality of scientists. (OK some scientists, but they just want validation from their peers.) Unfortunately not many scientists run for Congress.

    Phil Plait 2016!

  36. James Evans

    Correction: Rep. Cloun.

    I actually hope that, by now, no one here is truly shocked or even somewhat mildly surprised. I really do. This is not a newsflash. Politicians/lawyers/judges/etc. like this have been around making laws and decisions that affect our daily lives since our country was founded, and somewhere near half the populace decided to skip off along some fairy tale trajectory where they whistle away happily pretending there’s no separation of church and state. We should, at the very least, expect this. I’m not saying we should be happy about it, quite the contrary, because…

    Here’s where I’m going to make some contributors quite angry.

    Unintentionally.

    This is not my aim, but from personal experience, I assume it will unfortunately happen. I am not trolling when I say this. I mean this sincerely.

    Rep. Broun and his ilk are less of a problem at this point than moderate-minded intellectuals, liberals, secularists, scientists, et al, who still argue there’s no conflict between religion and science, and they can each separately bring society their own swell brand of helpful wonders without ever locking horns (i.e.: they are Gould’s “non-overlapping magisteria”).

    Sorry, this is NONSENSE, because people like Rep. Broun really believe what they say they believe. This is not theater or showmanship on his part. He was among dear friends and close associates, and felt free to speak his mind openly without mental filter. Sure, if he’s called out and cornered on these words, he’ll issue public apologies, or say he was misquoted/misunderstood, or blah, blah, blah, but he’ll continue to battle for policy that reflects his scary Bronze Age beliefs, while learning only one lesson from this affair: people can’t handle the “truth,” and must be lied to about what’s “best for them.”

    What does any of that have to do with accommodationist intellectuals, liberals, secularists, and scientists? The more we pay lip service to the lie that religion and science do not butt heads, the more we give license to cretin politicians like Broun. It gives them wiggle room within the public discourse to operate, and lends them credibility. No one more than me wishes that religion were merely privately-held belief, and kneeling bedside at night while you’re alone in your pajamas, and taking Granny on Sunday to drop a dollar in the dish, and dances at the church on Friday night where well-behaved young people coyly smile at one another, and all that good stuff, but unfortunately the reality is that it inevitably enters the public sphere and results in harmful, backward policy. Willfully ignoring this fact and saying there’s no conflict between two disparate ways of understanding the world around us is a PROBLEM. A big one. There is a conflict between religion and science. At a basic philosophical level they are antithetical. One is belief without question or evidence, and one is the idea that everything be questioned and backed up by evidence. And hopefully at the more abstracted level of public policy, none of us need be reminded of the discord that results from the crossing of their paths. Unless we start off by admitting that much, we will continue to end up with the Brouns and Akins of the world in positions they have no business occupying.

  37. David C.

    First, consider the venue, Liberty Baptist Church
    Second, why was he there, to talk to a bunch of Evangelical sportsmen and friends
    Third, how did he end his “Sermon”, with an alter call to those uncommitted to Jesus Christ as their personal saviour

    I am not condoning what this man said, but given the who, what, why and where of the matter, I am not surprised that he leaned over backwards to push a religious agenda. in what can only be characterized as a Sermon From The Pulpit, that was totally out of place, given his elected position; he should have known that it would spark a furor, and yet he did nothing about it; he catered to his bias and the bias of his audience, and from the various sounds coming from them, it would appear that it was well received;

    Bottom line, he did his constituents, his party and the nation as a whole a disservice in bringing this to public attention, and it will reflect badly on him, anyone who supports his views, and the American Nation;

    In short, given the Republican Parties leanings, America appears to be treading a path towards Religious Fundamentalist Political Rule, that would do the Iranian Ayatollah proud if it were Islamic; and as a benevolent neutral observer from up North, it worries me;

    happy Canadian Thanksgiving, my friends, and well wishes for the launch of your debut Commercial Rocket to the ISS tomorrow;

  38. Frost Bite

    @31. MaDeR, it seems you forgot to mention the “true” democratic country you are posting from. Care to enlighten us to the location of this perfect utopia?

  39. MaDeR

    “your debut Commercial Rocket”
    Musk is Phil Plait? I knew it…

    @36. Butthurt much? Why it matters anyway? Lets say that: in last election thrid party (that did not even existed 1 year before elections) wedged between previous two major parties and became thrid significant political power, because people was sufficiently annoyed with ineptidute and retardity of beforementioned two major parties.

    My humble post-soviet country is not utopia by any means, but it is more democratic than USA will ever be.

  40. Frost Bite

    @40. Russia or a break-off you won’t mention…..nuff said.

  41. David C.

    @ 40 MaDeR,
    He’s also The Doctor, how else did Amy recognize him ;D

  42. Brian

    MaDeR: As a US citizen, let me just say thanks. Your comments reminding me how many problems my country has was great. Living here and all, I don’t really notice all the problems we have, so it’s nice to have it pointed out to me in a general handwaving sort of way. Though I should point out that a majority of US citizens don’t vote at all, so it seems that my country already pretty much agrees with you.

  43. Peter Davey

    Perhaps Mr Broun should remember his Shakepeare – specifically “Henry IV, part 1: “Tell truth and shame the Devil.””

    On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that, as Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in his collection of essays, “Bully for Brontosaurus”, that Williams Jennings Bryant, the man who prosecuted in the Scopes “Monkey Trial” was a prominent Democrat, attempting to stamp out the theory of evolution for fear of its policitical consequences, arguing that the people who paid the schoolteacher had the right to dictate what he taught.

    Gould pointed out that Darwinism had been used to justify such contradictory policies that it could hardly be said to illustrate any particular course of action, or set of beliefs.

    The one thing he thought it could illustrate was the importance of scientific research – an idea with which few people on this website would quarrel.

    Where there is no vision, the people perish.

  44. Jim Allard

    Hi Phil,

    I think each party actually determines who is on each committee. The majority party gets the most members and the chairman of the committee and the minority party has fewer members. Usually, party seniority determines who in a party gets the best committee slots. So, in the unlikely event that the Democrats win the majority in the House, it is still unlikely that Akin or Broun would be replaced unless they wanted another committee.

    JimA

  45. Mike O

    Smart enough to get elected and not understand the truth? Not likely. Smart enough to say what the voters want to hear? More likely.

  46. Radwaste

    Gee. How is it that people who are fans of the SCIENTIFIC METHOD do not base their evaluation of candidates ON THE EVIDENCE. Go to thomas.loc.gov and look up your guy’s influence NOW. Don’t let anyone ELSE tell you what the candidate has done! Look it up!

  47. Nathan Van Meter

    Just a quick note. The majority party only has a say in who heads a committee. Dems will have no say in who Reps choose to place on any given committee. This guy clearly needs his head examined but please recall that a couple weeks ago, POTUS himself said we should not denigrate anyone’s religious beliefs and here you are, doing exactly that. I find both views equally crazy. The earth is clearly much older and POTUS only meant one religion should be free from criticism. A vote for any R or D is usually a bad idea. Try looking into Gary Johnson. I guarantee you will like what he says a whole lot more.

  48. Kemp

    I hear it was a little warm while the big bang was occurring. Maybe the hell analogy isn’t so silly ;) Still… I’m glad my government (in the UK) isn’t made up of people quite so religiously fanatical. They just find other ways to mess with us.

  49. MaDeR

    Frost Bite, why exactly saying what country* I am from matter? I could be from North Korea and my argument would still hold, because it do not depend on where I am. You just get hung up on non-sequitur, because you cannot think any defense about my main claim: that eternal two-party system is pseudo-democracy.

    You just do not like hearing about what is wrong with your country.

    Every country have crap and downsides (I could talk for hours what is wrong with MY country). Every. Anyone claiming otherwise is blind nationalist.

    * No, it is not Russia aka biggest banana republic in world, they do not even pretend they have democracy with El Presidento Putin Evah. No, I will not say which country then. It is not because it is secret, I just do not feel like saying this to someone like you.

  50. Unsettled Scientist

    > looks like the Democrats have abandoned this part of the country

    Georgia has representatives that are Democrats. Don’t do the same thing as Broun and let your ideology stop you from looking for evidence.

    John Lewis in GA’s 5th, one of the “Big Six” leaders of the civil rights movement. John Barrow in GA’s 12th, representing Savannah to Augusta. Sanford Bishop in GA’s 2nd, Hank Johnson in the 4th, etc.

    Don’t paint the region with an ideological brush because of the effects of gerrymandering that impact both parties…

  51. David C.

    @47. Radwaste
    couldn’t find any links regarding voting record; but here is some indication of where the representative stands

    Gov’t Web Page for Rep. Broun
    links to various activities

    http://broun.house.gov/

    Sponsored and co-Sponsored bills and amendments to bills

    http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery

  52. Frost Bite

    @50 MaDeR, It matters for validity towards your argument that the USA is not a true democracy but your unknown country is. Without the ability to check if your claim is actual, your statement holds as much weight as Representative Paul Broun’s do. This is a scientific blog, a bit of proof to back up your claim isn’t unreasonable. I haven’t claimed the USA two party system is perfect, just for the ability to check your side of the coin. Continue on if you want, I’m not interested in trading blows on someone elses blog, I find it disrespectfull to the blogger. And trying to get the truth behind your statement is like trying to get policy details from Romney.

  53. Useurhead

    Conservatism is the product of religion to keep the poor and uneducated subservient to the wealthy and to the decrees of those in power. The “conservatives”, including many people who say they are moderates or even liberals, want life simple, uncomplicated and want someone else to make decisions for them (hence politicians, religious writings, religions, god, leaders…). They don’t want, like the multitudes on this planet, to take responsibility for ‘all’ of their actions leaving it up to someone else to determine their fate. I don’t necessarily agree that Rep. Brown is really ‘that’ stupid; I just think that he’s intelligent enough to know ‘HOW’ to pander to the unintelligent scared people to keep him in office just like the rest of most politicians. As long as the people of this country allow the conservative agenda to dictate who gets an education (money being drained from public education), who allows religion to interfere in our political processes (95% of congress) and allow the extreme wealthy to financially rule the voting process (Supreme Court ruling allowing corporations to donate to political campaigns) we are in store for a continuation of this downward spiral. Some of the ways to get this done are mandatory term limits, get rid of the electoral process and let one person one vote process rule this country, elevate the quality of public education for all our citizens, bring back the middle class, return to the true principle of separation of church and state, get the corporations/lobbyists out of our government, return the true power of this country back to its citizens so the can once again begin to believe that this country is “of the people, by the people and for the people” and most importantly begin to emphasize to all the end of all separation between all people, races, cultures, and religions.

  54. Fizz

    Saying the US is not a true democracy is silly. Having more than two parties is not a requirement of a representative democracy. The people still vote for people to represent them- that’s the very definition.

    Besides which, there has been the occassional independent in congress. And other parties do exist- Libertarians, Green, Reform, some of which have actually been elected at the state level. Heck, if it wasn’t for Ross Perot in 1992, Bush Sr may very well have won re-election.

    The US political system may have its problems, but it is a democracy. To quote Winston Churchill, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.

  55. bbmcrae

    Love the defenders here who can’t offer up with any sane-sounding support for Broun’s madness, so instead attack this blog (which is doing its job by defending science), “librals” in general, and offer up strange, useless non sequiturs about Marc Antony. Thanks for definitively underlining how scary and stupid the anti-science crowd is. We couldn’t be right without you!

  56. noen

    “the USA is not a true democracy”

    This is false. A democracy is any system of proportional representation. The US is a constitutional republic, the UK is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy. Both have a system where the voice of the people is represented in the ruling government and are therefore both democracies.

    “Conservatism is the product of religion”

    No, conservatism is a perfectly valid political philosophy that values tradition and is resistant to change. Conservatives espouse many values that lots of people hold and that I think are even admirable. Personal responsibility, honor, integrity, honesty, self initiative, respect for others. The problem we have today is not with conservatives, it is with right wing extremists, Authoritarians, for whom absolute obedience is their highest value.

  57. Grand Lunar

    I find it ironic that he says the Big Bang theory is from the pits of hell when the history of the theory includes this:

    “Independently deriving Friedmann’s equations in 1927, Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest, proposed that the inferred recession of the nebulae was due to the expansion of the Universe”

    I guess Lemaitre must have been communicating with hell, then.

    I hope that Broun and his ilk are up for election. Because if they are, they ought to be voted out. They are simply NOT doing their jobs right, especially as part of a science committee.

    I’d hope for a major outcry from the scientific community in the US to speak out against these people, because one that holds such views as these certainly has no place in making descions about anything dealing with science.

  58. Trebuchet

    @#16, Fizz:

    “Not all Republicans are so biblically literal, such as McCain, Guiliani, Huntsman, even Romney.”

    Romney just believes that the ancient Israelites came to America and became our “Indians” and that he’ll have a planet of his own to rule over after he dies, where his wife can only go because she’s “sealed” to him. In other words, he believes in a different, crazier, book.

    ETA: That applies to Huntsman as well, of course.

  59. SelectiveOutrage

    @56 – It’s not a binary choice, Broun being wrong about the age of the Earth does not make equally unsupportable deeply held beliefs correct. What Phil has failed to do in this rant is establish even one decision that has been made incorrectly based upon this bible belief nonsense that would have been made differently should a legislator not believe in a young earth.

    So then we have this cherry picked example being used just because it is convenient to slam a religious Republican. As such, this is just biased and selective outrage being used to advocate voting for Democrats. As noted, it’s not being used to advocate against this particular seat, it’s a blanket condemnation.

    So I raise the question: if we are to make our political decisions by disqualifying individuals over factually unsupported beliefs, why is a Christian Obama and all the non-atheist Democrats we are being asked to vote for here not just as disqualified?

    I find notions of Divine Providence, the afterlife, and Bible controlled morality to be much more dangerous to rational governance than bickering over evolution and the age of the earth. Good luck finding examples of how young earth nonsense will jeopardize anything important and tangible as far as governance goes.

  60. Chet Twarog

    #33 Kathleen but if you further “think” on it with our modern biological knowledge and DNA, that would have made “Eve” Adam’s cloned-sister [impossible because Adam’s DNA would have xy chromosome and Eve’s is xx]. Few even consider this or that even Adam is made of dust, no organics… Ancient wisdom, quite unlikely.

  61. Useurhead

    That’s a misconception that conservatives value personal responsibility, honor, integrity, honesty, self initiative and respect for others. You don’t have to be a conservative to hold these values; there are many non-conservatives that hold these values as well, liberals and moderates alike. But you’re correct in saying that they are resistant to change; especially change with the advancement of science, medicine, human development and evolution. Not necessarily Darwinian Evolution but the evolvement of human development; development of a more sophisticated society, communication and travel. We’re not so isolated as we once were. This evolution is happening faster than ever and we need more people, societies, cultures and countries to begin to embrace this change rather than “control it”. Not wanting to change is one of the greatest forms of control. Rep. Broun and others, endorse non-changing ideologies and do their constituents and citizens a disservice. Change is a great thing except in the hands of terrible people and it seems to be predominantly conservatives; extremists etal, that become more aggressive when they are confronted with change and when more and more people begin to have a say what they want in their lives rather than being told what to do. And with what we are seeing today, the conservative are putting more and more effort into trying to control the government, hence control the people. Albeit there are many good people that are conservatives, but are unfortunately swayed to support the agendas of those wanting power. This doesn’t make them any less responsible for the outcome.

  62. Phil,

    I am neither shocked nor horrified. I do find that people noticing this now are late. I remember the religious right passing out pamphlets on how getting into government was important work for “Christians of conscience” To prevent the promotion of radical science, sex and heaven knows what
    in schools and on TV. A few years later I saw a more aggressive “manual” on this and it was targeting the Republicans as the part of doG. I was seeing this effort starting over 30 years ago and have noted the ever increasing string of raving idiots. AS the movie line goes, “There here..”. We didn’t take it seriously then and now we have to deal. It’s very problematic as the first generation of very dumb kids are now out there as education, err indoctrination, has been successful in that they succeeded in taking the mush and passing it off as meat.

    Eck!

  63. Fizz

    @59 Trebuchet
    Oh i’m not saying Romney’s personal beliefs are rational. But what he believes personally and what policies he implements are two separate things. His MA record is one of keeping evolution in the classroom, and theories like I.D. out of it. If elected (and i am not endorsing him), hopefully he will mirror his MA record in this respect.
    As for Huntsman, he’s entirely different. He was born Mormon, went to a Lutheran high school, married an Episcopalian, and sent his kids to Catholic school. He’s more of a religious mutt than anything else. Plus, Huntsman has specifically spoken out how the Republican party needs to not become the anti-science party.

  64. James Evans

    @SelectiveOutrage:

    It’s not a binary choice, Broun being wrong about the age of the Earth does not make equally unsupportable deeply held beliefs correct. What Phil has failed to do in this rant is establish even one decision that has been made incorrectly based upon this bible belief nonsense that would have been made differently should a legislator not believe in a young earth.

    Uh, which do you need more, Selective? Someone to point out the links Phil provided for Broun’s fellow GOP committee comrades who share in his scary, nonscientific, conspiratorial view of climate change research while STANDING ON A POWERFUL SUBCOMMITTEE THAT IMPACTS ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY? Or do you need someone to spell it out for you on Broun himself, and how his radical beliefs have directly influenced his bizarre voting record and shaped his wacko legislation proposals? I’m sure someone here can steer you in the right direction, in either case. But, sorry, the only thing Phil has failed to do is know ahead of time that you’d need the dots connected with so thick and dark a marker.

    So I raise the question: if we are to make our political decisions by disqualifying individuals over factually unsupported beliefs, why is a Christian Obama and all the non-atheist Democrats we are being asked to vote for here not just as disqualified?

    Fair enough question, if it didn’t smugly assume we would NOT disqualify a Dem for scientific committee appointment after making it known publicly that Bronze Age beliefs inform his or her opinions so immediately, strongly, and clearly. You really don’t get many contributors here, if you think a Dem like that would avoid the trash heap. It is NOT our fault that the GOP more often espouses this kind of bilge. Take it up with them.

    As for “Christian” Obama, yeah, uh, about that… I hate to break it to anyone who actually believes that deep down he’s a man of unflappable faith, but if there were some way in the current political climate to be honest without suffering the completely mindless fallout, he’d admit to being an atheist, or at least being a devoted secular rationalist, who has been artfully playing the political game, the rules for which we have, as a nation, unfortunately allowed the Bible Belt to twist and corrupt. There are some rather telling passages in Audacity of Hope, for anyone who thinks I’m making this up out of whole cloth.

    Broun, on the other hand, has a voting and legislation record that pretty clearly confirms the sincerity of his backward beliefs.

    And for those select few extremely confused individuals still holding onto the dream that Obama’s a Muslim…oh, never mind.

  65. What’s the bet that this cretin also believes that global warming is a hoax?

  66. David C.

    no thanks, that’s a sucker bet ;D

  67. Renee Marie Jones said:

    Right now our species looks like a failed experiment, come and gone in a flash, with only crumbling ruins as our legacy.

    I tend to agree. In fact, I think that’s one of the most compelling arguments for why we are not being visited or contacted by similarly “intelligent” beings from other worlds.

    Consciousness may very well be an evolutionary dead-end. Species-wide madness could be the norm for all creatures that evolve it. On our planet it might very well be the death knell of the hominids.

  68. @ James Evans:

    I agree with your conclusion that science and religion cannot be reconciled. That being said, I have no trouble with people believing in whatever religion they wish…so long as they don’t confuse it with reality. I also have no trouble with people who believe in lucky rabbit feet. If it makes you feel better, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else (or you don’t try and write stupid laws or make public policy based on it), go right ahead and believe.

    Science tries to discover and understand the real world. Some people need religion in order to deal with that world.

  69. @34 Zathras: Oh, sorry, I see that my comment (23) was a little confusing. I was speaking out against the Republicans only having doctors as their “scientists”, but I was trying to speak FOR the Democrats having actual science people (including Jerry McNerney… it’s not easy getting a PhD in Mathematics).

  70. Don

    @70

    To be precise, Broun has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, in addition to his MD, so I suppose he can be qualified as a scientist, even if he refutes all knowledge thereof.

  71. Adam Cooper

    @14 Chris. I am a Christian. You don’t have scientific proof of God as it is a different belief system based on faith. I’m guessing you haven’t read every scientific paper so you have an element of belief in other scientists works that they are reporting the facts. Also why do people insist on believing that science and religion are anti each other. I believe there is much archeological evidence for different parts and accounts in the Bible. As for a 6000 or 9000 thousand year old Earth, that’s not clear from the Bible because it’s not particularly important, but I believe the Earth is billions of years old and made from nothing.

  72. AndyG

    I wonder, is this claptrap gaining ground exactly because our science has got so advanced that it’s indisinguishable? The Internet, iPhones… magic! Not like the good old days of carburettors, when simple mundane Newtonian mechanical thinking would hold you in good stead.

  73. MaDeR

    @FrostBite “It matters for validity towards your argument that the USA is not a true democracy but your unknown country is.”
    Nah. You started this “I want to know what is your country because it somehow have something to do with your argument”. Hint: my argument was not “my country is more democratic than your country”.

    @noen @Fizz “Saying the US is not a true democracy is silly. Having more than two parties is not a requirement of a representative democracy.”
    This is just my opinion, but I do not consider democracy as eternal two-party duopoly, where both are almost indistinguishable. Democracy implies meaningful choice. In USA you merely choose with what speed USA rots away. Dems – slower, Reps – faster. End result is same.

    “The people still vote for people to represent them- that’s the very definition.”
    I do not deny their votes are correctly and truthfully calculated. I deny that their vote matters. This is why I call it pseudo-democracy instead of, say, two party dictatorship.

  74. SLC

    Re David C @ #38

    Given that the chairman of the Canadian Parliament Science and Technology Committee, one Gary Goodyear, is a creationist and a chiropractor, perhaps Mr. David shouldn’t chortle too loudly about the nutcases in his southern neighbor.

  75. SLC

    A perfect example of the Rethuglican attitude toward science is what happened in 2006 after the Democrats briefly took over the House. A joint committee was set up by the then speaker, Congresswoman Pelosi to consider the implications of climate change. Two Rethuglican Congressmen, Michigan Representative Vernon Ehlers and Maryland Representative Roscoe Bartlett applied the the then Rethuglican House Minority Leader, John Boehner, to join the committee. Both have scientific credentials, Ehlers has a PhD in physics and Bartlett has a PhD in physiology with a minor in chemistry. Their application was rejected on the grounds that they might be too willing to accept the scientific evidence of climate change.

  76. SelectiveOutrage

    @ James Evans – Hopefully you see this article for what it is, a clear example of the logical fallacy of poisoning the well. We are to believe said Republican is incapable of rational thought on some other important issue because his specific view on the age of the earth is biblically and not scientifically informed.

    You, yourself have to somehow tie this issue to energy policy, which has no logical connection save more ad hominem fallacies.

    You call his beliefs “radical,” but are they rare? And given the call to vote for Democrats, are we getting pro-science there or just less anti-science by some small measure?

    Are there young earth Democrats? Yes, a sizable plurality. According to a 2008 Gallop poll, just as many (within margin of error) Democrats (38%) believe in a young earth with no evolution than believe in a God influenced evolution (39%) versus evolution without the guidance of God (17%).

    So only 1 in 6 Democrats are consistent with Science. I imagine if we poll Democrat candidates, it would be even worse given the pandering to the plurality. Good luck finding an atheist anywhere in the House or Senate. Only one comes to mind, and he describes himself as a Unitarian. Paul Ryan fit for a time until he backtracked.

    The rest of your response is simply an argument of degree, then. Mmm great. Vote Democrat, we’re mostly wrong, but Republicans are even worse!

    I personally view both the Democrats’ 17% and the Republicans’ 4% support of the scientifically supported view of non-God determined evolution to be depressing and unworthy of praise. Being a mere 13% less delusional does not earn one the title of pro-science party, when the clear majority is still anti-science.

    The Democrats are also markedly more anti-science on issues I actually care about like GMOs, vaccines, animal testing, etc. The Left today is obsessed with climate, just like they were obsessed with overpopulation in the 1970s. And now, I fail to see any climate policies being advocated that don’t first and foremost line government pockets with more money.

    At least you admitted that the President is a deep and profound liar as long as it is politically expedient. On this point, we certainly agree. I also agree that he is no more a true believer in God than Paul Ryan.

  77. Cory

    It can sometimes be difficult to detect those that are completely un-tethered from the truth, until they open their mouth and leave no doubt.

  78. DaveB

    There’s a somewhat humorous short story in the latest Analog to hit my doorstep that really REALLY highlights this kind of idiocy.

    It would be funnier if the immediate reaction wasn’t “Yeah, that’s about how it would go….”

  79. @ No.67. David C

    LOL.

    @77. SelectiveOutrage
    The Democrats are also markedly more anti-science on issues…

    You are missing the point. Any political party will have it’s fair share of kooks. It’s the LEADERSHIP that makes all the difference. Republican politicans are 99%, if not 100% science deniers. The same cannot be said for Democrat politicans.

    I actually care about like GMOs, vaccines, animal testing…

    Obama is not anti-GMO nor anti-vaccines nor animal testing. The same goes for rest of the mainstream political leadership on the Democrat side.
    Yet on the Republican side, the inmates completely run the asylum. Elected Republican officials are genuinely kooky.
    Evolution and gobal warming is a hoax, donchaknow?
    Name a single Republican politican that accepts and openly admits climate change is a reality and that the findings of NASA are deadly serious.

    NASA: Climate Change; A Warming World (HD)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u68E3SubjFY

  80. jim zushin

    to whom: first who am I, a 59 year old fat man with only a HS edu, not particularly smart in the formal way but practical and the father of a biologist with 2 masters and a very “empirical” way of thinking. I also believe that the Jew Jesus is the messiah. Having said that, I am not afraid for my God or my faith in him by the discoveries people smarter than me make. They, the discoveries, make me smile. Like a child who sees the shape of his fingers is more than similar to that of his father, that his discoveries in life are how God put these universes together not in chaos but order. As atheist, agnostic and believers make their scientific discoveries, these mysteries to us, they enforce my faith. A growing universe, really? Of course this miracle is worth studying. You want proof of God, look around and discover it, as scientists do all the time. As for flat world buffoons like Broun, pray for the fool and get him out of ofc.

  81. James Evans

    Hopefully you see this article for what it is, a clear example of the logical fallacy of poisoning the well.

    OK, Selective, let’s go over Broun’s OWN WORDS AGAIN just for you, because apparently you missed their OBVIOUS, CONSPICUOUS, CLEAR, FLAGRANT, DISTINCT, PLAIN, NEON, BRIGHT, BLINKING, BLINDING, BLATANT, BLOWHARD, BLARING, self-incriminating nature the first time around:

    “And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the [Bible that] teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

    Why would Phil need to poison the well, when Broun’s own words beat him to it by innumerable furlongs? Does the well require two doses of poison these days? Are there some really stubborn buggers who drink their fill, thrash about, but refuse to kick the bucket? When will it need three doses? Four? Hmmmmm? What could possibly be the source of your confusion here? The real poisoner’s identity couldn’t be anymore evident. What are you missing?

    We are to believe said Republican is incapable of rational thought on some other important issue because his specific view on the age of the earth is biblically and not scientifically informed.

    Well, you’re certainly earning the “Selective” part of your Id, making “let me ignore about half the issue” statements like this. See, the rest of us look at the totality of his words—FULL STOP…which (review the very, very, very telling above quote from him AGAIN, if you must) should be enough for anyone to get this “easier than ShamWow” point about his mental miasma…but, wait, there’s more!—his backward voting and legislative track record, and the nonsense he and his cronies have spouted, in and out of committee. His biblical devotion clearly guides his political actions. It is insanity to deny this.

    You can continue to play dumb, if you want, for whatever reason, but you’re not scoring any points against Phil doing so. You’re only making yourself look dense.

    So only 1 in 6 Democrats are consistent with Science.

    Swell, thanks for the info. If any of them turn out to have Broun’s bizarre track record, or disclose how truly prehistoric their thought processes are, I promise you they will earn a disqualification from any science committees and a round thrashing here as well. Not sure what you’re missing about this simple notion either.

    Good luck finding an atheist anywhere in the House or Senate.

    Pete Stark. One only, I know, but given the present political climate, one is better than none. It’s a start, and I’ll take it.

    The Left today is obsessed with climate…

    And now we see why you’ve been palying dumb. Here we have a small peak at the sharp edge on SelectiveOutrage’s selective axe that really is begging for some selective grinding…denial of climate change and its urgency…

    …just like they were obsessed with overpopulation in the 1970s…

    Ooooooo! We see some gleam from the steel and sparks coming off the grindstone now! How exciting! Because, you know, 7 billion of us cause no stress at all on the environment, all of those warnings turned out hollow, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just a stoned, long-haired leftover from the 70s…

    And now, I fail to see any climate policies being advocated that don’t first and foremost line government pockets with more money.

    And there it is, folks, in all its burnished, sharpened glory! Selective’s freshly-ground +3 Axe of Climate Change Denial! Thank you for revealing the REAL REASON why your attempts to defend Broun with this “no worries on the diehard creationism while on a science committee” argument were noticeably tormented and hopeless right from the start. You agree with him that global warming is a hoax, or a vast government conspiracy for money, or gets too much attention, or blah, blah, blah, however you ultimately want to wriggle out of fully explaining/admitting your misunderstanding of the issue.

    You feel the need to rescue Broun, somehow, some way, in order to validate your own climate change denial.

    Sorry, Selective, his Bronze Age beliefs have poisoned the shallow well inside his brain so thoroughly, there’s nothing left up there except dried-up, withered climate research misinformation. You’re not going to save him from well-deserved ridicule with some pointless obsession of your own regarding his troublesome YEC conviction. He ain’t getting off the hook, no matter how much you try to obfuscate or how many transparent tricks you try to pull. Get over it.

    At least you admitted that the President is a deep and profound liar as long as it is politically expedient.

    “Deep and profound.” LOL. That’s rich, Selective. The lie would have to do more than merely fool the credulous half of the electorate for it to matter. It would have to impact and taint critical, real-world issues. But maybe it has! I have to admit I haven’t considered the possibility that it could be worse than Broun’s Bronze Age, backward candor! Maybe Grandma was right about how pernicious even the smallest, most innocent lie can be! So now it’s your turn. Educate me about Obama’s dishonesty regarding his faith, and show me where it has bled into and corrupted his policy-making in a meaningful, negative manner.

  82. James Evans

    That would be *playing and *peek, not *palying and *peak. That post went way too long to spell/typo check.

    Ahem.

  83. And there it is, folks, in all its burnished, sharpened glory! Selective’s freshly-ground +3 Axe of Climate Change Denial!

    (applause)
    That was a masterful spanking. The cultural reference was a very nice touch. Well done.

    Speaking of +3 Axes, here’s a link you might enjoy. ;)
    http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html

  84. noen

    MaDeR said:
    “@noen @Fizz “Saying the US is not a true democracy is silly. Having more than two parties is not a requirement of a representative democracy.”
    This is just my opinion, but I do not consider democracy as eternal two-party duopoly, where both are almost indistinguishable.”

    Yes, that is your opinion but you are simply, factually wrong. A democracy is any form of government where the people have a say in matters that affect their lives. This is true regardless of whether or not they have a parliamentary or republican system or no party system at all as in a direct democracy.

    SelectiveOutrage said:
    “The Democrats are also markedly more anti-science on issues I actually care about like GMOs, vaccines, animal testing, etc.”

    That is true. The democratic base entertains some false beliefs and conspiracy theories too. The difference at this point in history is that the GOP base has become epistemically closed. Their false beliefs are not open for discussion or up for debate. That is why Mitt Romney has to swing sooooo far to the right in order to placate the GOP base during the primaries.

    In contrast the Democrats are more open and willing to modify their beliefs if they are shown to be wrong. That is why “This American Life” retracted it’s story by Mike Daisy about Apple manufacturer Foxconn. That is why it is now a dead issue on the left and not a vigorous conspiracy theory like birtherism is on the right. And it is why I and others can and do argue for nuclear energy and GMOs among our fellow Democrats and are still considered Democrats and not excommunicated as is being done on the right.

  85. Chris Winter

    soft lame weak wrote (#6): “Boo hoo — I want my funding but I don’t want any dirty stupid proles or know nothing dummies in politics! Welcome to America dawg. You just get here or something?”

    No, Phil’s been around a while. But you reek of newness — to this venue, at least.

    “Wait maybe these guys are smarter than libural hissy fit throwers? Marc Anthony’s arguments weren’t A+ quality, but the man knew how to move a mob.”

    Yes he did; and in Shakespeare’s drama he moved that mob, IIRC, to put him in charge. I could name some real leaders who did the same a lot more recently, like say 1936. If that’s the kind of leadership you want, you won’t find it in this country unless the Constitution is finally abrogated.

    Be careful what you wish for…

  86. Fizz

    @80 Cedric Katesby:
    Name a single Republican politican that accepts and openly admits climate change is a reality and that the findings of NASA are deadly serious.

    I’ll name a few…

    John Huntsman (UT), Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Chris Smith (NJ), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Bob Inglis (SC).

    And there are a few others. You can look any of them up easily enough.

    Do the Republicans have a bunch of kooks? Of course. But there a few Republicans that accept climate change and want to do stuff about it. You hurt your own case when you lump every Republican in the same basket.

  87. Bill Gresho

    Mr. Angry Astronomer. Thanks for fighting the fight. Please accept as I have learned to accept that most Republicans qualify for three standard deviations BELOW the mean of the Intelligence Curve. As I remember the Dean of Albany State’s Education School telling us nerdy TA’s at RPI, the IQ mean is not exactly too swift. Now for a reminder, pleaase do remember POV — the Power of the Vagina. At 70 I still respect that Power — can’t do much about it, but respect it.

  88. Zathras

    @87 Fizz:
    The sad thing (as I said in my previous post) is that pre-Reagan, the GOP were the pro-science party.

    Also, Pete Stark is not a great dem example. He’s made a number of public remarks lately indicating that he’s getting quite publically senile. He’s in a race for his political life with a smart young whipersnapper named Eric Swallwell.

  89. John Huntsman (UT) gone, Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA) gone, Olympia Snowe (ME) going, Susan Collins (ME) (gosh, a genuine notable exception), Chris Smith (NJ) (who?), Tim Pawlenty (MN) gone, Bob Inglis (SC) gone.

    I’ll name a few…

    Name more. Use both hands.

    Do the Republicans have a bunch of kooks? Of course.

    No, don’t do the magical balance fairy thing. As I clearly said, any political party will have it’s fair share of kooks. It’s the LEADERSHIP that makes all the difference.

    But there a few Republicans that accept climate change and want to do stuff about it.

    Susan Collins? Ok. Nice to know. Chris Smith? No idea. Can’t find any info on him.
    What others are there?

    You hurt your own case when you lump every Republican in the same basket.

    It’s a big basket. They all seem to fit. Republican politicans are 99%, if not 100% science deniers. If you can count all the exceptions on one hand then…(shrug).

  90. Fizz

    @89 Zathras-
    I agree. And even during the Reagan years it wasn’t bad. I think the big decline came after Clinton became president, or maybe during Bush Sr’s term. The few remaining pro-science Republicans need to keep standing up, and hopefully those religoius zealots will gradually be elected out.

  91. Fizz

    @90 Cedric Katesby
    I said there were others, but i’m not going to do the research for you. You asked to name one. I did. I even named more than a handful. You don’t get to change the goal posts when you’re shown to be wrong, and then claim you’re right.

    All you have to do is google “republicans who believe climate change” and you’ll be able to find several. But a couple more off the top of my head: McCain (AZ) (hes even been praised by Democrats for his stance). And John Kasich (OH).

    And whether or not they are currently in power or not is not the issue. They are Republicans, they have been in power, and while in power worked to do things about climate change.

    Inglis in fact has launched an initiave for climate change action, and he has garnered support from several, including Gregory Mankiw who is an economic adviser to Romney. How’s that for leadership?

    So no matter how you cut it, your “99% if not 100% science deniers” is both figuratively and mathematically incorrect.

    Don’t get me wrong- i too am annoyed by how anti-science the Republicans have become. But all is not lost. We can’t change peoples’ minds by saying blatently false things- credibility is lost that way and people tune out. Instead, use those pro-science Republicans to help our case.

  92. I said there were others, but i’m not going to do the research for you.

    The ones you named are gone.
    Susan Collins and Chris Smith are great but they seem to be about it.

    You don’t get to change the goal posts when you’re shown to be wrong, and then claim you’re right.

    I’m not. As I clearly said, any political party will have it’s fair share of kooks. It’s the LEADERSHIP that makes all the difference. I asked for single Republican politican that accepts and openly admits climate change is a reality and that the findings of NASA are deadly serious and you provide me with Collins and maybe Smith. That’s great. That’s two people. MCCain and Kaish? Well, that’s…um…four. The big 2+2.
    Just a quick look at the new, improved modern McCain doesn’t really seem to fit the bill. Maybe a few years ago but not any more.

    So no matter how you cut it, your “99% if not 100% science deniers” is both figuratively and mathematically incorrect.

    How many Republican politicians are there?

    … you’ll be able to find several.

    Well, so far there’s only four (or three). So, yep, that would be several.
    More than 1% of the total? Are you sure? That would be 99 deniers to one accepter of science. So far the ratio looks very, VERY bad.

    And whether or not they are currently in power or not is not the issue.

    What is a politican not in power?

    Inglis in fact has launched an initiave…

    I’m sure he will do wonderful things…now that he is no longer a politician.

    We can’t change peoples’ minds by saying blatently false things…

    Nor can we change it by praying to the magical balance fairy.
    The Republican Party has become the party of anti-science. The kooks are mainstream.

    Instead, use those pro-science Republicans to help our case.

    Yeah, they could hold a meeting in a phone booth somewhere.

  93. Daniel J. Andrews

    Yeah, they could hold a meeting in a phone booth somewhere.

    heh. That made me laugh out loud. Also made me sigh because it is far too accurate. If there are any more pro-science Repubs they’re keeping a low profile. Not sure if that is a clever Machiavellian strategy during the TP wingnut times, or a despicable spineless move on part of people more interested in protecting their position than getting something done.

  94. thaneb

    When he looks up at night, what does he think those little dots in sky are and more particularly, how far away might they be? Is the speed of light, too, a lie born of the pit of hell?

  95. Cat

    “Listen, I’m a politician, which means I’m a cheat and a liar.”
    Jeffrey Pelt, the President’s National Security Advisor in “The Hunt for Red October”

  96. Fizz

    @93 Cedric Katesby
    Well, in a quick search I have found 5 republican governors who have either outright said or have implemented policies indicating they do believe in higw. Jan Brewer (AZ), Butch Otter (ID), Rick Snyder (MI), Chris Christie (NJ), John Kasich (OH).

    There might be others but i’m not going to spend all day checking them all. Seeing as i immediately know of 4 others currently in congress (already mentioned above), i don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that the ratio in congress is proportionate. So 15-20% overall is not an unreasonable educated guess, i don’t think. Are the numbers acceptable? Of course not. But they’re not as hopeless as you claim.

    Ultimately, my point is don’t make up numbers. The anti-science Republicans do enough of that already. Don’t be like them. If you can compile a list of everyone in congress and their views on global warming, great. I suspect you’d be surprised with how many pro-science Republicans are still there.

    Nor can we change it by praying to the magical balance fairy.

    And using snide comments like that won’t change it either. You can be on your high moral ground all you want, but it does no good if it does not change minds.

    In the end, we’re on the same side. We just differ on how bad we think it is.

  97. Well, in a quick search I have found 5 republican governors who have either outright said or have implemented policies indicating they do believe in higw. Jan Brewer (AZ), Butch Otter (ID), Rick Snyder (MI), Chris Christie (NJ), John Kasich (OH).

    Just to make sure that goalposts don’t get shifted, my criteria as I stated way back when is Republican politicans that accept and openly admits climate change is a reality and that the findings of NASA are deadly serious. I’m surprised that there’s even one. Drew a blank on Brewer and Otter. (link please) Snyder will only hem and haw about it if you hold a gun to his head though I did find good stuff on Christie and Kasich. (Though you’ve already mentioned Kasich.)

    There might be others but i’m not going to spend all day checking them all. Seeing as i immediately know of 4 others currently in congress (already mentioned above), i don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that the ratio in congress is proportionate.

    You are a busy person. I get it. Yet how many Republican politicans are there? I don’t mind where they come from. That would be 99 deniers to one accepter of science. So far the ratio looks very, VERY bad. Again, to make sure that the goal posts don’t get shifted, I said Republican politicans are 99%, if not 100% science deniers.

    Ultimately, my point is don’t make up numbers.

    I’m not.
    My comment was purely off-the-cuff to illustrate the woeful lack of Republican political leadership, not the result of scientific survey. What I find disturbing is how accurate it seems to be. I appreciate you playing devil’s advocate on the issue but even you have to admit that you are having to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find those politicans that can somehow qualify.
    Even being generous with my own criteria, we only have Collins, Smith, Kasich, and Christie. That’s four (4) so far.
    Again, how many Republican politicans are there overall?

    In the end, we’re on the same side. We just differ on how bad we think it is.

    I accept that but I have to look at the simple maths. From the whole Republican Party, you’ve mentioned thirteen examples here. I see only four so far that kinda-sorta qualify. When people mention Republican political leaders that openly accept climate change…it’s with the same shock or excitement as finding an albino orca.

  98. SelectiveOutrage

    @82 James Evans. You’ve posted a quote that I’m supposed to find uniquely horrifying, but it reads the same to me as President Obama declaring that his religious beliefs inform his policy proposals and that Jesus himself would approve of letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

    “I actually think that is going to make economic sense, but for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’”

    “We can all benefit from turning to our creator, listening to him”

    This next one is choice, given your admission that Obama’s continued professions of true belief are political theater:

    “Avoiding phony religiosity, … This is especially important right now when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation.”

    So we have an inconsequential congressman whose belief in the Bible informs legislation that you can’t even name, versus the President claiming that a god-man who likely never even existed is what is informing his tax policy. I’ll take an issue that is a centerpiece of Obama’s domestic policy and of significant import to the economy and my life versus the unspecific votes of one man that again, neither you nor Phil have bothered to detail at all.

    I doubt that even 1% of the populace votes on science policy, and I’m still waiting for even one bill that is informed by young earth beliefs. You’ve taken the ball and run back to more comfortable turf of climate change, but this is a non-sequitor.

    Do you have any evidence that Republicans reject climate data because of the Bible? Perhaps it’s the same reason that Democrats are less likely to vote for a Mormon. This glaring religious intolerance is likely a response to a specific Mormon, namely Romney and would likely not hold if these bigots were voting for Harry Reid.

    Republican antagonism is likely due to reinforcing their policy decisions, namely more cheap energy, no government interference in markets. This effect is not limited to Republicans. Your own policy choices, namely immediate intervention by the government has likely biased you to accept data that supports your alarmism and reject data that does not.

    This same effect can be seen multiple times when science intersects politics, e.g. the Bell Curve and anything else dealing with Race and IQ, Over-Population alarmism and the Malthusian predictions that never come to pass, etc.

    You have a fantasy that I am a climate denialist, but I do not reject the data. Rather, I don’t support the resulting policies being enacted. This is something you’re going to have to confront with maturity that your poor attempts at invalidation don’t display.

    Just like Phil’s poor attack here, it’s not enough to simply call names and declare the other side unworthy of consideration. The mere fact that the Left is still fighting over climate data is just a sign that they are far from being able to fight for policy. And politics is about policy, not science. The Republican tactic of kneecapping the Left at the level of the data has so far been very successful at limiting policy like Cap and Tax.

    I don’t think any US domestic policy will be more beneficial than harmful, so it bothers me very little that Democrats are stalled arguing over the data.

  99. Do you have any evidence that Republicans reject climate data because of the Bible?

    Rep. John Shimkus: God decides when the “earth will end”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7h08RDYA5E

  100. Nigel Depledge

    Copernicus 34 (4) said:

    . . . simply turn a science blog into a political blog . . .

    * Yawn *

    What, not this idiotic comment again ?!!

    What part of “the science committee of the US Congress is populated by people who believe in magic” [my paraphrase] isn’t relevant to science?

  101. Nigel Depledge

    Selective Outrgae (98) said:

    So we have an inconsequential congressman whose belief in the Bible informs legislation that you can’t even name, versus the President claiming that a god-man who likely never even existed is what is informing his tax policy. I’ll take an issue that is a centerpiece of Obama’s domestic policy and of significant import to the economy and my life versus the unspecific votes of one man that again, neither you nor Phil have bothered to detail at all.

    Eh? What is inconsequential about a congresscritter who sits on the science committee?

    The committee cannot be so large that his voice is lost in the crowd, so he is bound to have at least some impact on the advice coming from the committee.

    I agree that Obama’s comments about his policies and religion are bang out of line, but that is a separate issue. To be frank, I think the whole American political system is warped by obeisance (whether real or phoney) to Christian interests. After all, AFAIAA, the USA is the only nation on Earth with a constitution that specifically separates religion from government, and yet it is probably the closest thing to a Christian theocracy* in the modern world.

    And before you argue against this position, consider this : how successful would a candidate for president or congress be if they openly professed atheism? Yet, in most of the UK**, religion is more or less never mentioned at all during electioneering. Not even obliquely.

    * I don’t count the Vatican (which, obviously, is a Christian theocracy) because it doesn’t seem to move in the mdern world.

    ** Religion is still an issue in Ulster, but this seems to be the legacy of a long and bloody history of sectarian turmoil.

  102. Nigel Depledge

    Selective Outrage (98) said:

    Do you have any evidence that Republicans reject climate data because of the Bible?

    It doesn’t matter why they reject climate change (the most likely reason is the campaign contributions they receive from oil companies, but that’s a separate debate). It’s just one more example of their apparent belief that reality can be decided by popular vote.

    There was once a time when science in America had widespread respect. Now, too many people view it with deep cynicism and distrust.

  103. Nigel Depledge

    Slective Outrage (98) said:

    Republican antagonism is likely due to reinforcing their policy decisions, namely more cheap energy, no government interference in markets.

    What lack of government intereference in markets?

    A genuinely free market would have no subsidies and no protectionist duties on imports.

    There are very few commodities in the US that are traded under genuinely free market conditions.

    This effect is not limited to Republicans. Your own policy choices, namely immediate intervention by the government has likely biased you to accept data that supports your alarmism and reject data that does not.

    I agree that any individual can be biased in different ways when viewing the same data.

    However, for most people, the issue of climate change is not about the data, because most people don’t even know what the data are.

    For most people, it is seen as a two-sided issue, with, on one side, very nearly all climatologists (who, being intellectuals, have a quite blatant liberal bias), and on the other, people and organisations who are providing the voters with excuses not to act on climate change.

    The point is that the debate over the data has already happened and ended. Climatology, as a science, has reached a consensus about what the data are – broadly – telling us. The main part of the debate happened over 20 years ago. There is no longer any scientific debate over whether AGW is real or not. The rest of us must choose to accept or reject the conclusions and advice of the expert climate scientists.

    And, frankly, anyone who rejects the science is denyiong reality, because they cannot be in a position to know more about the topic than the people who have spent decades understanding it.

    [. . . ]

    You have a fantasy that I am a climate denialist, but I do not reject the data. Rather, I don’t support the resulting policies being enacted.

    This is different. I have not yet read all the comments, so I don’t know yet what you previously posted on this topic, but there are two distinctions to make and be clear about.

    First, if you accept that AGW is real you must also accept that we need to do something about it, rather than sit and let the consequences happen.

    Second, there is as yet no scientific consensus about what the best thing (or collection of things) to do is. Many climate scientists (AFAICT) are making suggestions and/or researching options. Which of those options then get put into practice is a matter for the policy-setters, and AFAICT, most scientists are leaving them to it.

    So, for you to outright reject the “resulting policies being enacted” is churlish and trivial.

    What policies that are being enacted do you reject?

    What alternatives do you think should be in place to address the consequences of AGW?

    If you have already answered this in comments I have not yet read, then I apologise for harping on, but your comment #98 does not state an intellectually tenable position on this topic.

    This is something you’re going to have to confront with maturity that your poor attempts at invalidation don’t display.

    I have not yet read the other commenter’s attempt to invalidate your position, but this part of your comment #98 invalidates itself through poor argumentation and lack of support.

  104. fernando

    this guy was created in 7 days (including time off) so don’t expect much out of him

  105. Nigel Depledge

    Daniel J Andrews (94) said:

    If there are any more pro-science Repubs they’re keeping a low profile.

    Yes. This.

    Fizz (97) said:

    I suspect you’d be surprised with how many pro-science Republicans are still there.

    You make a good point about not inventing numbers, but I don’t think this is really the issue.

    The fact remains that a substantial proportion of Republican congresscritters are openly anti-AGW. Whether it is 80%, 50%, or even 1%, it simply isn’t acceptable for a supposedly civilised and advanced nation to have its leaders openly declare their rejection of reality. And pro-reality Republicans do not appear to be doing anything about their party’s lunatics.

    Regarding AGW, it appears to be mostly Republicans who reject the science, but I am sure there are also Democrats who reject science on other issues.

    The central point should be that reality is not a political issue. Reality is what it is, and science is the only tool we have that has achieved some success in understanding reality. Therefore, when practically every scientist in a field agrees that there is a problem and that action of some sort should be taken, the politicians should not be arguing about it. It seems to me to be a vicious circle. Politicians may adopt a certain viewpoint because it wins votes, but I strongly suspect that if all available candidates for a leadership position adopted the same acceptance of reality, the electorate would follow.

    The debate ought to be “what should we do about AGW?”.

  106. Nigel Depledge

    Chris (14) said:

    Wait, I thought the young Earth creationists thought the Earth was 6000 years old, now it’s 9000! They can’t even get their made up facts straight.

    YEC generally accepts any figure of =< 10,000 years.

  107. Nigel Depledge

    Fizz (16) said:

    Many Republicans stood up against Akin, called for him to drop out, etc. But we need more to stand up against guys like Broun.

    Yes, absolutely.

    In the UK, political parties have officials called Whips, who regulate the MPs and occasionally require them to toe the party line. Well, the Whips only occasionally officially require MPs to toe the party line, but often “encouraging the Honorable Members to vote their conscience” means toeing the party line, too. If any MP made a public idiot of themself like this, one of the Whips would have a quiet word with them.

  108. Nigel Depledge

    Scott Sigler (21) said:

    Choosing to believe the Earth is 9,000 years old when there is no scientific fact to support that . . .

    More than this – every fact that is relevant contradicts such a young Earth.

    Even William Thompson (Lord Kelvin), who rejected the concept of deep time, thought the world must be tens of millions of years old, based on thermodynamics alone.

  109. truthspeaker

    Fizz Says:
    October 6th, 2012 at 9:38 am

    It would be nice if both political parties realized that 75% of America is in the middle, and stop pandering to the extreme 12.5% on either extreme.

    Nice false equivalency there.

  110. John Carter

    Fernando (103) said:

    “…this guy was created in 7 days…”

    Producing something of quality takes time, planning, consideration of and for the results for years to come.

    (Not off hand) and judging soley from indications of Broun’s expressed religious view, I’d have to say –

    this guy was created in 7 seconds!

    Probably a lot of believers such as Blount were “created” in not much more time!

  111. TheBlackCat

    So no matter how you cut it, your “99% if not 100% science deniers” is both figuratively and mathematically incorrect.

    At least going by your own list of active members of congress, it actually is correct. There are 535 members of congress (including House and Senate). You found fewer than 5 active members, which would mean more than 99%.

  112. Nigel Depledge

    David C (38) said:

    . . . he should have known that it would spark a furor[e], and yet he did nothing about it . . .

    I’m starting to wonder if it was not some deliberate ploy to garner publicity.

    These guys are not as stupid as they want us to think they are.

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Nathan Van Meter (48) said:

    . . . POTUS himself said we should not denigrate anyone’s religious beliefs and here you are, doing exactly that.

    Phil is not denigrating Broun’s religious belief per se (many, if not most, of the big churches actually accept an old Earth), but he is most certainly denigrating Broun’s belief that religious belief trumps reality. And quite rightly so.

    I find both views equally crazy.

    To which two do you refer here?

    The earth is clearly much older and POTUS only meant one religion should be free from criticism.

    Actually, why should any religion be free from criticism?

    What’s so different about religious practices that they are the only field of human endeavour that go unquestioned?

    A vote for any R or D is usually a bad idea.

    Good point. My vote goes for R & D!

  114. Nigel Depledge

    MaDeR (40) said:

    My humble post-soviet country is not utopia by any means, but it is more democratic than USA will ever be.

    And MaDeR (50) said:

    I could be from North Korea and my argument would still hold, because it do not depend on where I am.

    I very much doubt this second statement.

    There are dozens of nations that are less democratic than the USA, so it very much matters where you are.

    If, for instance, you live in Lithuania, or in one of the old Warsaw pact nations such as the Czech Republic, you might have a point. If you live in North Korea or Saudi Arabia, then your argument most certainly fails.

  115. Chris Winter

    Nigel Depledge wrote (#114, quoting Nathan Van Meter):

    A vote for any R or D is usually a bad idea.

    “Good point. My vote goes for R & D!

    Heh. I’ll second that vote, for the sense in which you intended it.

    For the second possible interpretation (Republicans & Democrats) I’ll also agree provided that the policy positions and voting records of the Rs and Ds are considered. I, as someone who leans Democrat, would certainly vote against certain “blue dog” Democrats if I had the chance.

    (No. I’m not going to name names.)

  116. Jeff S.

    You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible

    I’ve taught physical sciences 30 years, and in my opinion, the public is getting more not less scientifically illerate. they can’t tell the differenc between a 5000 year vs. 5 billion year earth. But radioisotope dating, theories of stellar evolution, fossil progression through time together with theory of evolution, big bang cosmology, just for starts prove a billions of years old universe. But the public I work with, and I’ve worked with I figure 10,000 students, at least in my grade book, and they do not inspire confidence. I could show up tomorrow and convince them of a young earth just as well a an old earth. They just don’t have the tools to figure it out, the critical thinking skills. They don’t have those.

    A country’s leaders do not operate in a vacuum, they operate in a certain context, a certain environment. I myself was a believer the internet would help overcome this science illiteracy, but it has backfired, from George Noory’s daily dose of nonsense to flame war childhood bully stuff on the internet.

  117. funny how a teacher calls theories science!! how acurate are their dating methods 50 to 150million years old,maybe it negative 50 million ????

  118. where was the outrage when representative hank johnson thought gaum might turn over if more troops got stationed there????

  119. @ Jeff S
    Please remember to use quotation marks to distinguish your views from the YEC wackjobs of the world. Almost flamed you. ;)

  120. SelectiveOutrage

    @102 – I don’t argue against the position that an open atheist would not be elected. I raised this point earlier in the thread in regards to a recent Gallop poll that shows that an atheist is the most prejudiced qualification of a potential candidate, worse than being an open Muslim or Homosexual.

    The one out atheist in government didn’t run that way and is in an entirely safe congress seat in CA. He also claims to be a Unitarian, so make of his atheism what you will.

    I agree 100% with you that the political ideology in the US is overwhelmingly framed as morality = judeo-christian. Secular humanists, Objectivists, and other people who conceive of a morality that is not based on divine texts from sky-gods, are left to make endless comparisons to j-c beliefs to attempt to quell fears that we are moral monsters. Most people cannot conceive of a rational morality that is not divine.

    Democrat and Republican god-fearing is what has lead to the criminalization of suicide and the prevention of free end of life choices such as doctor assisted suicide. All of us are going to die, which goes back to my point that selective outrage against Republicans using logic presented here, I.e. stupid belief = disqualification to govern, ignores the bipartisan stupidity on much more tangible issues.

    How I am going to die is much more relevant and tangible and policy heavy than any global warming law that will ever come before that committee. Not only do I think any policy enacted by Congress will be powerless to stop global warming, but that all the candidates so far have been laws that simply transfer money to the government.

  121. Gus Snarp

    Sadly, where I live, Republican gerrymandering has resulted in the elimination of democracy in House elections for the foreseeable future. There is as much chance of someone other than the Republican incumbent winning in my district as of evolution being false.

  122. Jeff S.

    120 – Cedric, thanks for pointing that out. It changes the whole meaning , I know better than to quote with quotation marks.

  123. MrHegemony

    It’s not much, but it’s a start – a petition to remove Rep. Paul Broun from the House Science Committee: https://www.change.org/petitions/house-science-committee-remove-rep-paul-broun.

    Please sign and circulate.

  124. James Evans

    @SelectiveOutrage

    You’ve posted a quote that I’m supposed to find uniquely horrifying, but it reads the same to me as President Obama declaring that his religious beliefs inform his policy proposals and that Jesus himself would approve of letting the Bush tax cuts expire.

    Yeah, more deliberate density from you. Shocking. OK, Selective, I’ll pretend you’re not intelligent enough to see the difference between Obama and Broun’s quotes, too, mmmmkay? Here’s the entirety of that 1st Obama quote you posted with the very, very, very, very, very, very important sentences that you left out for risible reasons:

    [START 1ST IMPORTANT PART SELECTIVEOUTRAGE DIDN’T LIKE SO IT WAS OMITTED]”If I’m willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to make economic sense.”[/END 1ST IMPORTANT PART THAT SELECTIVEOUTRAGE DIDN’T LIKE AND THEREFORE PURPOSEFULLY OMITTED]

    Since you insist on playing dumb, like it’s an effective, bolstering debate tactic, allow me to fill you in on why you should NOT have omitted this part. See, Obama is letting us know here that SHEER INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT PROCESS NOT, I REPEAT FOR THE SELECTIVE-AND-INTENTIONAL-OUTRAGEOUS-DENSITY’S OF THE WORLD, NOT JESUS informed the development of his tax policy. OK, moving on…

    [CONTINUE WITH PART SELECTIVEOUTRAGE LIKED FOR THE WRONG REASONS AND THEREFORE INCLUDED]”But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.’”[/END PART SELECTIVEOUTRAGE LIKED FOR THE WRONG REASONS AND WAS WILLING TO INCLUDE]

    “Coincides,” Selective. Coincides not I am the Mindless Holy Zombie in Chief driven by Bible passages which command my every Washington action like they do Rep. Broun.

    Get it yet? Or are there more dots you need thick, dark lines drawn between?

    [START LAST IMPORTANT PART SELECTIVEOUTRAGE ALSO DID NOT LIKE SO IT MET WITH AN AFOREMENTIONED FAVORITE SHINY AXE]”It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.”[/END LAST IMPORTANT PART THAT MET SELECTIVEOUTRAGE’S FAVORITE SHINY AXE]

    See what else it mirrors NOT is crafted or informed by, Selective, hmmmmmm??????? He is spoon-feeding his INTELLECTUAL NOT JESUS-INSPIRED OR MOHAMMED-INSPIRED OR TORAH-INSPIRED OR VISHNU-INSPIRED OR ODIN-INSPIRED OR BA’AL-INSPIRED OR GOLDEN CALF-INSPIRED OR FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER-INSPIRED tax policy to the credulous. That’s all. He’d give them a bib and wipe off their chins, too, if he could.

    WHAT

    ARE

    YOU

    MISSING?!

    You should not wield an axe, but rather a rubber mallet, so you can do everyone else here a favor and clunk yourself on the noodle now and again. You are purposefully portraying confusion you do not in reality possess, and I shouldn’t dignify your Twilight Zone debating tactics with anymore responses, but now I’m utterly fascinated with how happy you are to dig your own grave at the most recklessly suicidal rate anyone has ever witnessed. So, again, moving along (with a bewildered chuckle and eyes rolling)…

    “We can all benefit from turning to our creator, listening to him”
    This next one is choice, given your admission that Obama’s continued professions of true belief are political theater:
    “Avoiding phony religiosity, … This is especially important right now when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation.”

    Oh, brother, more deliberate omissions and trying to make Obama look like he said something he didn’t. Swell. What’s the “this” Obama’s talking about in the 2nd quote, folks? You’re thinking right now, due to Selective’s selective axe, that it’s “allowing the Bible to craft science policy,” right? Just like Broun’s quote, right? Or maybe you think it’s the “phony religiosity” Selective hacked in there with the world’s shiniest axe out of context. Sorry to disappoint, but the “this” that’s “especially important right now” to Obama is “coming together as brothers and sisters.” Wow, there’s a breathtaking anti-science notion that probably floored those at the National Prayer Breakfast where he made the speech, huh? Good thing Selective alerted us to this mind-boggling, illustrative, helpful statement, huh? We’re all more greatly informed due its presence in this discussion, and it hasn’t been a total waste of time at all, or anything. Gosh, no. Really, it hasn’t.

    Are you auditioning for a Fox News job, Selective? Is that what’s going on here, because you’re hired, man. Bang up job of spreading misinformation. But, fine, whatever, I’ll just pretend I’m blockheaded, too, and allow you the totally false premise that these quotes suggest something about Obama that they in fact do NOT. You know, why, Selective? Because I’ve already admitted my possible ignorance regarding the dangers of Obama false faith. Continuing to quote instances of Obama’s disingenuous devotion does not put more egg on my face. I understand it could very well be a big problem that I haven’t considered. And I’ve already asked you to explain those dangers to me. But keep this very important caveat in mind, if you accept the challenge! If the only danger you can dream up is that his fake religiosity helps him pass taxation policy that is NOT some bat poop insane, Ayn Rand-inspired, wack-job, libertarian, “not taxes ever!” cuckoo-athon nonsense, spare us, OK? It ain’t gonna fly here. Find some way it’s had MEANINGFUL impact, not prevented total crackpot garbage being foisted on the rest of us.

    So we have an inconsequential congressman whose belief in the Bible informs legislation that you can’t even name…

    No, we have a highly influential representative who back in 2009 spearheaded the “Year of the Bible” Act, admits to making critical budget-cutting decisions based on his YEC convictions that impact NASA, NOAA, and other vital organizations, claims clean energy and healthcare policy will kill people, and in countless other ways proves that his stated YEC credulousness has infected and operates across his mental dashboard, with all its scary, dimming readout bulbs.

    And, of course, we have YOU, someone who doesn’t need to be spoon-fed reality, but acts like it’s necessary. “Inconsequential.” You’re seriously not embarrassed saying this? I mean, take a moment to consider the words you use. My goodness.

    Young earth creationism doesn’t impact public/science policy… This is the grand statement you wanna make here, is it, Selective? Be my guest. Oh, and be sure to tell school kids in Kansas, and Pennsylvania, and Texas, and so forth and so on, whose right to learn evolution is under constant threat.

    You have a fantasy that I am a climate denialist, but I do not reject the data. Rather, I don’t support the resulting policies being enacted.

    LOL. Another “I’m not a denialist, I’m just a denialist” type contributor who will, like many others before, attempt to split the most—to borrow a word—inconsequential hairs anyone has ever had the misfortune to witness become bifurcated (read: mutilated).

    This is something you’re going to have to confront with maturity that your poor attempts at invalidation don’t display.

    Mature statements get mature responses. Bizarre “no worries, YEC operates in a harmless vacuum” statements get condescending smiles and patronizing pats on the head, and are sent on their merry “can I have another lollipop?” way.

  125. Anne Ominous

    One of your better posts, Phil. Applause.

    James Evans: clean energy and “healthcare” policy WILL kill people. We can only hope that clean energy will kill fewer people than past policies… and that “healthcare” will be repealed. Because while the intention may have been good, the execution is a horror.

  126. Anne Ominous

    Also, James Evans:

    While you correctly chastise Selective Outrage for his misquotes, you haven’t refuted the bulk of the points he was making. And he made some very valid points.

    Theism does not inform morality. Rather, it dictates it. Thought is replaced by dictum. And that dictum ultimately comes from a desire for power over others.

    Spare me the lectures. Religion-free morality at least has a basis of honesty, which religion-based morality lacks.

  127. James Evans

    @Anne Ominous:

    James Evans: clean energy and “healthcare” policy WILL kill people.

    Care to enlighten us how?

    While you correctly chastise Selective Outrage for his misquotes, you haven’t refuted the bulk of the points he was making.

    “Bulk,” is it? You’re gonna have to give me at least a few examples from this supposed bulk that I missed. Keep in mind that, in a lot of ways, SelectiveOutrage and I fight for the same team. There are just a couple, oh, choice differences in outlook, shall we say, that have resulted in what appears to be heated confrontation.

    Theism does not inform morality. Rather, it dictates it. Thought is replaced by dictum. And that dictum ultimately comes from a desire for power over others.

    Spare me the lectures. Religion-free morality at least has a basis of honesty, which religion-based morality lacks.

    Is this a peek at the bulk I supposedly failed to refute? Am I to spare you the lectures, so you can instead lecture me on things I don’t necessarily disagree with, and therefore wouldn’t even be moved to refute?

  128. Messier Tidy Upper

    @79. DaveB :

    There’s a somewhat humorous short story in the latest Analog to hit my doorstep that really REALLY highlights this kind of idiocy. It would be funnier if the immediate reaction wasn’t “Yeah, that’s about how it would go….”

    Please could you provide the exact title, author and issue or at least one of those for us, DaveB?

    As an erstwhile writer of such SF tales myself, I’d love to find and read that ‘un. :-)

  129. @17. Jess Tauber :

    Combine the full range of cognitive styles and intellectual capacities with freedom by teachers and preachers to inject their own distorted opinions into their student’s minds and you end up all this nonsense ‘trickling UP’ the chain of command all the way to government. Real scientists should run the world, or at least be the real powers behind the throne ready to intervene every time the idiocracy rears its ugly head. Eternal whackamole is the price of freedom.

    Not to be confused with eternal *guacamole* which is the product of a literal all-you-can eat Mexican buffet – the price of that depending on the exact restaurant involved! ;-)

    Seriously, I suspect you are quite possibly right – we need something like Isaac Asimov’s Council of Science running the world(s) as in his fictional world in his (a.k.a. “Paul French’es”) Lucky Starr novel series.

    Failing that, if only one had to pass a reasonable exam to qualify to run for Parliament / Congress / POTUS. Subjects to include some basic science, maths and maybe critical thinking /logic /ethics and a passing grade of two-thirds correct necessary to even run for any office above about the level of municipal dog catcher. With results and scores for those tests being made publicly available to all.

    Come to think of it, such a requirement for voting may be a good idea too.

  130. Continued from #130 October 9th, 2012 at 1:11 am :

    .. Albeit for the voting requirement people could perhaps pass with a mere 51% right and such results would NOT be disclosed to all. I wouldn’t be quite as cruel as Robert Heinlein’s similar famous suggestion which, if memory serves, included a flashing red light alerting everyone in the polling booth that an idiot had been denied the vote! :-o

    It would arguably seem to make more sense for people to pass such a test to vote – which ideally would include a basic, objective, political knowledge test of who the candidates were and what policies they espoused rather than having a mere chronological age requirement for voting eligibility. (Plus of course the whole non-felon, citizen prerequisite natch.)

    BTW. I’m being quite serious here although actually making such a change to the electoral system anywhere – Aussie tying here – would no doubt be a tough challenge to pass.

    @14. Chris :

    … If you remember back to the GOP presidential primaries, only one candidate said he believed in evolution and trusted scientists on global warming. That was Jon Huntsman and we all saw what happened to him.

    Actually, I think Republican candidates’ Mitt Romney & Newton Gingrich both at least formerly made statements agreeing with the climatological science consensus. Gingrich even wrote a book titled Green Conservatism’ with a chapter by evangelical climate scientist Katherine Hayhoe on HIRGO*. A chapter that was then subsequently scrapped due to, it seems, political pressure from the Tea Party which has made it exceptionally difficult for Republican contenders to openly acknowledge climate change reality. :-(

    Now it seems based on another comment up-thread that Tim Pawlenty who also had a brief run for Republican POTUS nominee lats year is also somebody who accepts the HIRGO* reality although I wasn’t aware of this previously and would need to verify this.

    Youtube interview clip here – “Katharine Hayhoe: “..Much of This is Intended to Intimidate.” by Greenman3610 published, if that’s the right word, on the 23rd January this year is linked to my name here. Previous post wiki-links to guacamole. :-)

    ——————————————-

    * Human Induced Rapid Global Overheating a better descriptive acronym in my view.

  131. @ ^ MTU :

    Now it seems based on another comment up-thread that Tim Pawlenty who also had a brief run for Republican POTUS nominee lats year is also somebody who accepts the HIRGO* reality although I wasn’t aware of this previously and would need to verify.

    See :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUcu3nmTGjU

    &

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/aug/14/tim-pawlenty/do-scientists-disagree-about-global-warming/

    Turns out perhaps poor Pawlenty is a pretty poor example after all! ;-)

    Pawlenty apparently said in August 2011 : “The weight of the evidence (on global warming) is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes … it’s fair to say the science is in dispute.” Which, no, it is not at all fair or accurate to say. :-(

    For more about Newt Gingrich’es pro-environmental and climate science book see :

    http://newhampshireprimary.blogspot.com.au/2011/12/newt-gingrichs-green-conservatism.html

    Plus link in my name to its Amazon page. (hope this is okay please let me know if not.) Turns out that co-authoured book was actually titled ‘A Contract with the Earth’ – my mistake sorry. :-(

  132. @87. Fizz wrote :

    @80 Cedric Katesby: “Name a single Republican politican that accepts and openly admits climate change is a reality and that the findings of NASA are deadly serious.”
    I’ll name a few…
    John Huntsman (UT), Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Chris Smith (NJ), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Bob Inglis (SC).

    I’d scratch out Tim Pawlenty’s name there because – as just seen in the youtube clip now linked to my name – it seems he called his earlier acceptance of climate reality a mistake in one of the numerous Republican POTUS contenders 2012 debates. A very early one I’d guess! ;-)

    Appears we can add Pawlenty’s name to Gingrich’es and Romney’s as Republicans who once accepted the climatological reality only to change their minds later based most likely on the political consequences given the Tea Party’s negative influence. :-(

    (Think I vaguely recall a specific site / BA blog post even on the 2012 Presidential contenders views on Global Overheating and perhaps other science issues, anyone else recall the one?)

    Whether “etch-a-sketch” Romney if actually elected would shift his views back to a more pro-science stance away from the more extreme right climate contrarian conspiricist position he had to adopt to gain the nomination is unknowable but probably not worth gambling on. :-(

    And there are a few others. You can look any of them up easily enough.

    Well, I’ve just looked up one of the one’s you mentioned anyhow. Turns out you could have done some better fact checking yourself I hate to say.

    Do the Republicans have a bunch of kooks? Of course. But there a few Republicans that accept climate change and want to do stuff about it. You hurt your own case when you lump every Republican in the same basket.

    Maybe that’s true – but isn’t “Republican” a self-selecting basket of its own of sorts?

  133. PS. Also note Fizz (#87) that Pawlenty and Huntsman were about the first Republican candidates eliminated in their race for nomination as POTUS contender whilst Romney was heavily criticised by many Republicans and Tea Partiers for his former more moderate positions and that the last “not-Mitt” rival to depart was Rick Santorum.

    I’ve also taken up your suggestion and typed “republicans for climate change” into Google – see :

    https://www.google.com.au/#hl=en&sclient=psy-ab&q=republicans+for+climate+change&oq=Republicans+for+&gs_l=hp.1.3.0l4.1637.9465.0.11906.16.12.0.4.4.1.478.3723.2-6j5j1.12.0.les%3B..0.0…1c.1.GVunL_tpEd8&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&fp=81e1f2702ceb357&biw=1600&bih=809

    For the results which do contain this list :

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/climate-weather/photos/7-republicans-who-really-get-climate-change/ooooh-now-i-get-it

    Which provides the following statistic :

    Slightly more than one out of 10 Republicans in Congress believe global warming is happening and is a man-made problem. Far less than that are willing to stick their necks out with a green vote.

    The seven Republicans named there are :

    I) Arnold Schwazenegger
    II) Jon Huntsman
    III) Olympia Snowe
    IV) Susan Collins
    V) Chris Smith
    VI) Tim Pawlenty (Hmm.. I’d disagree on that given his later comments!) &
    VII) Sarah Palin! (They’re joking -no really, they *are* joking.)

    So five names really. Out of hundreds or even thousands.

    Plus it has a related link of “5 Democrats who don’t get global warming” also showing both sides of US politics have their problems here. Not that that’s really news but still.

    In addition, I actually heard this :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-09/us-republican-elder-statesman-supports-carbon-tax/4303444

    radio interview with Republican elder statesman & Ronald Reagan’s former secretary of state, George Schultz earlier today. (Yesterday USA time.) Schultz there argues in favour of a carbon tax – and claims its “ridiculous” to say the republican party is anti-Science saying people should look at the facts. Not sure they always bear him out on that tho.

    BTW. Australia (& Europe and I gather some US states) have carbon taxes today. Not sure how effective or great they are myself – think James Hansen’s “feee’n’Duividend” plan is probably better – but better than doing absolutley nothing.

  134. Nigel Depledge

    Pophalism (118) said:

    funny how a teacher calls theories science!!

    If you refer to the comment by Jeff S (117), you are right to pick up an inconsistency.

    However, by leaving it up to others to explain what that inconsistency is, you fail to show that you know any better.

    In fact, my suspicion is that Jeff S was referring to the success of those theories, based on the immense mountains of data that support those theories, and on the absence of any data that contradicts those theories.

    how acurate are their dating methods 50 to 150million years old,

    Pretty damned accurate. IIUC, they are better than ± 5%.

    Here’s an important question – how hard have you tried to find out for yourself? For example, Wikipedia is pretty easy to use, and it has a good article on radiometric dating. Have you read it? Did you understand it?

    maybe it negative 50 million ????

    Not a chance.

  135. TheBlackCat

    funny how a teacher calls theories science!!

    Of course they do, because it is true. Scientific theories aren’t guesses or conjectures, they are well-tested explanations. Theories do not become facts or laws, facts and laws are just descriptions, theories are explanations for a set of facts and laws. Theories are the highest rank any scientific concept can achieve.

    how acurate are their dating methods 50 to 150million years old,

    The term you want is precision, not accuracy. Precisions of 1% or better are standard for many radioactive dating methods. Some have precisions 10 times better, while some are a little less (perhaps 5% at worst). In your time range, precisions are in the hundreds of thousands of years or better.

    maybe it negative 50 million ????

    Wait, what? Do you even know what accuracy is? That is like saying “I am negative 5 feet tall” or “the ball has a mass of negative 15 kilograms”, it doesn’t even make sense.

  136. Nigel Depledge

    Selective Outrage (121) said:

    How I am going to die is much more relevant and tangible and policy heavy than any global warming law that will ever come before that committee.

    I don’t see how a science committee has any input into whether or not suicide should be illegal (did it never occur to those legislators that it’s a “crime” you can never prosecute?). What is the scientific question to understand and resolve?

    IOW, why is this point relevant to this guy’s unsuitability to sit on the science committee?

    Not only do I think any policy enacted by Congress will be powerless to stop global warming,

    I disagree. The starting point globally will be for the US as a nation to officially acknowldege the reality and seriousness of AGW. The Kyoto Protocol, for all its flaws, failed largely because the USA refused to sign on to it. This gave China an excuse to reject it, too. If the USA had taken a leading role in dealing with AGW, the developing world would have followed sooner or later.

    Even if the action taken is inadequate, nothing cvan be achieved globally until everyone acknowledges the existence of the problem. Once global action is happening, it can be refined and built upon to achieve what is needed.

    but that all the candidates so far have been laws that simply transfer money to the government.

    Simply?

    What, so making fuel more expensive won’t encourage people to buy fuel-efficient cars? And extra government money could not, perhaps, make public transport a realistic option for more people and so reduce car use?

    A few years back I read of a study that showed that people in the UK would not mind additional tax on (say) fuel as long as that money goes into schemes to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, or to subsidise the development of immature technologies that could supply renewable power. If, OTOH, the money simply goes into the Treasury, people do resent the additional tax.

  137. Nigel Depledge

    Useurhead (54) said:

    Some of the ways to get this done are mandatory term limits, get rid of the electoral process and let one person one vote process rule this country, elevate the quality of public education for all our citizens, bring back the middle class, return to the true principle of separation of church and state, get the corporations/lobbyists out of our government, return the true power of this country back to its citizens so the[y] can once again begin to believe that this country [has] “[government] of the people, by the people and for the people” and most importantly begin to emphasize to all the end of all separation between all people, races, cultures, and religions.

    I’m in. Where do I sign?

  138. Nigel Depledge

    Fizz (55) said:

    Saying the US is not a true democracy is silly.

    Not really, since it’s a constitutional republic, not a true democracy.

    Having more than two parties is not a requirement of a representative democracy.

    Erm . . . I get the feeling that having parties at all means you don’t have a true democracy, by the strict definition of the term.

    The people still vote for people to represent them- that’s the very definition.

    And who here actually feels that their elected representative represents their interests in government? I’m not a USAian, but the system over here in the UK is usually to pick the least of three evils, because very few people genuinely have their interests represented in government.

    In the USA, the issue is compounded by corporate lobbying and “campaign donations”. It seems pretty obvious to me that the interests of the people are not the same as the interests of large corporations, and that much of the time the US government is protecting the interests of the latter far more than the former. Sometimes those interests coincide. Sometimes.

  139. Tony Wright

    I really despair of the American people when idiots like Broun get in power.The Americans need to find balance in their society and unfortunately Max Keiser is right.It is becoming corrupt, authoritarian,unjust.I am not sure whether there will be a USA at the turn of the next century,and the Republican party are starting to make the country a laughing stock!!I hope a revolution happens in the USA and the likes of the Occupy and the Zeitgeist movement get into power and give America it’s decency,compassion for the poor and honour back otherwise the USA will be finished by the century’s end!Same with my country the UK too.Alas for our two nations!

  140. TheBlackCat

    @ Nigel Depledge: “Not really, since it’s a constitutional republic, not a true democracy.”

    Technically true, but I don’t think that was the point that MaDeR was trying to make.

  141. Messier Tidy Upper

    @139. Nigel Depledge :

    Fizz (55) said:
    “Saying the US is not a true democracy is silly.”
    Not really, since it’s a constitutional republic, not a true democracy.

    Can we really define what a true democracy is?

    True to what value sigma and how “democratic” exactly counts as democratic?

    Ancient (classical Periclean) Athens was perhaps the most democratic society & system of governance – if we ignore the fact that women, slaves and indeed many other classes of people weren’t citizens and thus couldn’t vote.

    The United States is a representative democracy with two main parties that share power, a few minor parties that act like spoilers and where wealth and media have serious power.

    Australia, my own nation is similarly a representative democracy with two main parties swapping power – currently finely balanced by one vote – a handful of semi-major ones (notably the Greens and Nationals) helping form coalitions and act as junior partners to the main ones and a few independents holding potential influence and getting to decide who gains or loses power.

    Germany has another more evenly split between parties type representative democratic government as does Israel where minor parties are more major and major parties more minor.

    Ialy has, well, a mess and a constant change of constantly unstable governments or at least it used to.

    England has a Queen who is also the figurehead symbolic ruler of Australia (& on our coins) plus Canada, New Zealand / Aotearoa and other places each of which also have Governors Generals and Prime Ministers with Great Britain itself having a PM and a system of three major parties tho’ this has evolved over time.

    Point is democracies can and do come in a whole range of flavours or shades or types and some are arguably more democratic than others.

  142. TheBlackCat

    On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that, as Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in his collection of essays, “Bully for Brontosaurus”, that Williams Jennings Bryant, the man who prosecuted in the Scopes “Monkey Trial” was a prominent Democrat, attempting to stamp out the theory of evolution for fear of its policitical consequences, arguing that the people who paid the schoolteacher had the right to dictate what he taught.

    The party situation back then was not really comparable to how it is today. At the time the Democrats were actually more the conservative party, although the split between liberal and conservative wasn’t as rigid as it is today. The political affiliation of the parties didn’t switch until a few decades later, primarily over civil rights issues.

    The close association between the Republican party and the religious right didn’t happen until later still, primarily due to Reagan’s efforts to reach out the religious right. As a pretty much captive voting block, it made it easy to get a large number of voters on their side at once. It has had repercussions for the party, though, obviously.

    Whatever the details, trying to paint a pre-civil-rights era Democrat as representative of the Democratic party today, it would be much more accurate to compare them to modern Republicans (although still not entirely accurate).

    Incidentally, the Republicanshad a hard time at it, many traditional conservatives (who were and are dominate in the south) were still upset about the Civil War. It wasn’t until the 21st century that the Republicans were finally able to take Texas, for example, and even that required violating campaign finance laws and gerrymandering.

  143. Continued :

    So .. How exactly do we, do you define a system that is truly democratic and do representative systems count? Has there ever been a true democracy?

    As noted the ancient Athenians tried something that for its time was a semi-reasonable and certainly very rare approach to one – click on the wiki-link inmy name for info – with their direct democracy which ultimately fell to Alexander the Great’s empire building.

    That direct approach has yet to really be tried again onany long term basis or indeed outside maybe one group of idealists in Spanish Civil War with General Franco where the Guernica bombing of paintings fame happened.

    In our current modern world, I’d say from what I’ve gleaned from various places that *maybe* Switzerland comes closest to being a True Democracy example but could well be wrong?)

    There’s certainly a case for saying the USA’s system could be improved and made more equally and fairly democratic. Hope that happens one day ASAP.

    However, that is NOT the same as saying as I gather someone up-thread did that the United States are undemocratic or a “pseudo-democracy” because the American voters there do get to have some say.

    Unlike people in say, Syria, Cuba or Tibet.

  144. @139. Nigel Depledge :

    It seems pretty obvious to me that the interests of the people are not the same as the interests of large corporations, and that much of the time the US government is protecting the interests of the latter far more than the former. Sometimes those interests coincide. Sometimes.

    But Corporations *are* people too! Just ask Mitt Romney or the US Supreme (?) Court! ;-)

    (Youtube link in name here.)

  145. mike burkhart

    Rep Paul Broun and others like him have forgoten what the Bible is for and about. It realy is a shame that unlike me and 95% of Catholics, he just can’t accomadate evolution and the big bang into his belefs.I’ll think I’ll drop him a letter to try, to talk some sense into his head, I don’t think it will do any good ,but I’ll try anyway. Off Topic: For those who have the Celestia astronomy program on you’re computer and love to add on , like I do, try the Cygnus X-1 add on it’s very good animation of a Black Hole, my hats off to the programers of it.

  146. @23 Scott: We scientists REALLY have to jump into the political game. I’m not a US citizen, so I can’t help out there, but I should run for office here in Canada.
    What do you think, Phil? Want to get into politics?

    That’s the whole problem – people who have their heads screwed on straight aren’t crazy enough to want to wade into the alligator-infested swamp of politics. It takes either religious zealotry or a certain sort of masochism to motivate someone to seek a high office.

  147. Normal...

    Conservatists i.e. the type of people who once held on to ideas like ‘the world is flat’, ‘the sun moves round the earth’, and used to be scared of scientific/technological innovaters…

    As long as stupidity works in their favour (‘elite’), they are going to ‘stay the same’…

    This is why when Americans (majority generalisation) say their country is great, the world laughs and craps themselves at the same time, like the way most people feel standing next to a schizophrenic…

    i.e. The average American (the populace who appeal to worsen their own state of being) is Conservative and thereby considered Stupid, Lazy, Selfish, Stupid, Lazy and Stupid…

    How to shoot the messenger… ? One of ‘God’s bullets’ perhaps… ;)

    Please do not moderate my statements, they are most probably, unfortunately, necessary … !

  148. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Normal :

    FYI. The BA puts comments into moderation for new commenters here but doesn’t usually edit them far as I know. All comments with links go into moderation whoever they’re by but as long as the link is okay should be accepted.

    As for the content of your post I see an awful lot of generalising there – which you even sort of admitted yourself.

    Too much generalising I think. Of course, over-generalisations are easily made and something I’ve been guilty of doing in the past myself. Doesn’t make them right or all of the story though.

    The average American? Who is the “average American” really and how “average” exactly are they? To quote the classics (Monty Python – Life of Brian) : “We’re all individuals!” (Collective chant, one dissenting “I’m not!”)

    A lot of folks commenting here not to mention the Bad Astronomer himself are US citizens. (I’m not, an Aussie here.) Do your words apply to them? Their families, partners and friends?

    Do you think you may be being a bit prejudiced here – against Americans and also perhaps schitzophrenics too?

    (Mental illness btw is extremely common so much so I sometimes wonder if sanity is the exception and you may know schitzophrenic people already and just not know you do.)

    What’s normal, Normal?

    Shooting messengers? Yeah, that’s really not such a great or smart idea either ‘k. :-(

    *****

    @147. Joseph G : There’s a saying for that that goes something like anyone who wants to be in politics shouldn’t be allowed to be! Its probably more than a little true.

  149. WBenson

    Why embryology??!! Why is ‘all that stuff’ Broun ‘was taught about evolution and embryology’ ‘straight from the pit of hell?’ There is nothing in embryology that a fundamentalist creationist, especially a medical doctor, like Broun would reject. Human embryos are persons (after all, human DNA is intelligently designed) from the time of fertilization and the biochemistry of development is the plan of God.

    Broun’s complaint is that the embryo (of medical science and republican policy) is used as evidence in support of evolution. Biologists since the time of Darwin have used the embryonic similarity of man and other vertebrates as evidence for evolutionary relationship. Even more objectionable is that the earlier embryos of birds and mammals bear not only a disturbing similarity to fish embryos, but that they have much in common with the organization of adult fish. Broun seems to believe that this is an invention of evolutionists, but the facts were initially discovered and defended by Christian fundamentalists and predate Darwin, and accepted by embryologists of all stripes up until evolution became an issue.

    German biologist Ernst Haeckel (you may remember) presented a schematic diagram of “von Baer’s Law” in the 1870s in a massive popular book on the biological evolution of man. A few embryos were unavailable for the figure, so Haeckel, to complete the diagram, used biological insight to reconstruct how he thought the missing ones might look. Haeckel was criticized at the time and with new material corrected later versions of the drawings. However, he was not forgiven and continues to be attacked today by creationists like Broun for faking the evidence, evidence, it seems, that is today, almost 140 years later, mostly irrelevant. The embryological lie Broun rails against almost certainly Haeckel’s (supposedly) faked embryo drawings.

    It is disturbing to see that none of the many reports on Broun’s statement or the hundreds of comments on the topic I have seen has a clue as to why Broun, a competent medical doctor, would appear to attack the science of embryology. It is depressing to see that most liberals seem ignorant of the springs of the half-truths that drive far right creationist fanaticism, and offer nothing more solid than vacuous derision to combat it.

  150. @149 Messier Tidy Upper: @147. Joseph G : There’s a saying for that that goes something like anyone who wants to be in politics shouldn’t be allowed to be! Its probably more than a little true.

    I think it should be more like jury duty – a pool of people is randomly chosen, they’re screened to remove people with a criminal history, severe mental illness, hardship if taking care of a disabled relative or something, and then they have to be Senators or Representatives for x number of months or years. They’d be paid just as well as the current folks, of course, and get that famously good healthcare that Congressional representatives get. Maybe there could be job quotas as well, so you’d be sure to have a certain number of lawyers, a certain number of scientists, a certain number of low-wage retail workers, etc. That’d ensure that you’re really representing the population at large.
    The President would be a little trickier, as you need to make sure that whoever gets the job can take the psychological strain…

  151. Sadly I got the chance to read this post on my mobile phone just few minutes ago. I generally try to avoid ANY ‘social media’ if possible, but it seems a ‘miracle’ had happened.

    It is a FIRST time for me, that I could not sleep (or at least not without having a nightmare), if I would not made a reply to this post, involving statements of certain U.S Congressman.

    I have my own firm opinions, about politics too, yet I usually choose to keep them for myself. But in spite of that and although I’m from EU and can be considered almost a total lay-man, when it comes to US political system, I was first in disbelief when I finished reading this article, thinking that this was some kind of ‘bad joke’ taken straight out of a horror SF movie. Sadly it is not.

    And with my vivid imagination I made twisted parallels with the novel 1984 by George Orwell, to put it mildly.

    I excuse myself for such a long introduction, but reading this article I was left speechless for some time. Why?

    A while ago, I watched on cable TV a University lecture (US based) from a renowned lecturer, devoted solely to INCOMPETENCE on high positions and its consequences. At first I was a bit surprised, that this topic had been devoted so much attention and time. Now, I believe it should receive even MUCH more attention. But remember, incompetence is not STUPIDITY, but when you combine BOTH, something very dangerous beyond imagining emerges.

    And what those people on such high positions said PUBLICLY, makes in my humble opinion a perfect example of what I was talking about above.

    So, why not give myself a chance to do so, when I still can, because if ‘the Elite’ continues to make such statements, we are not so far away from being unable to comment on anything, if it has even a ‘flavour’ of criticism in it.

  152. Messier Tidy Upper

    @151. Joseph G :

    I think it should be more like jury duty – a pool of people is randomly chosen, they’re screened to remove people with a criminal history, severe mental illness, hardship if taking care of a disabled relative or something, and then they have to be Senators or Representatives for x number of months or years.

    Yep. I do like that idea.

    I’d only add that I’d like those jury selected pollys to pass some sort of basic test to qualify so they understand at leats minimal science, logic and civics. (I.e. how the system works -constitution, branches of govt, separation of powers / church -state, etc..)

    Now the problem is going to be convincing the politicians to change to something like that from the current system!

  153. @154 Messier Tidy Upper: I’d only add that I’d like those jury selected pollys to pass some sort of basic test to qualify so they understand at leats minimal science, logic and civics. (I.e. how the system works -constitution, branches of govt, separation of powers / church -state, etc..)

    Yes, you can’t forget that part. That’ll keep us from having any more Sarah Palins pop up :-P On the face of it it sounds a bit odd, but then, we give people history and English tests just to obtain citizenship, so it only makes sense to test folks in positions of power more rigorously.

  154. #151 Joseph G:
    The late Sir Arthur C. Clarke, in his novel The Songs of Distant Earth, described exactly what you suggest, as the only truly democratic form of government, with the added caveat that any individual who actually applies for any political post is automatically disqualified.

  155. One day this country will squirm in its own filth for its profound disconnect from material reality. This entire world will suffocate in its sweaty atmosphere, deserts will spread on land and below sea, and people will crowd into the fortunate portions of our planet. Only then, I believe, will most people understand the function of the economy: to turn natural resources into things humans value, simultaneously realizing that the thing we value most in this entire universe was our home. Oh the irony, this is going to be a most pathetic tragedy.

    All because most humans have some sort of fundamental trouble trusting measurement. Then maybe a new gospel will be added to the bible saying to believe also in measurement. Hmm. The possibilities!

  156. Anne Ominous

    @James Evans —
    The reason that I read what I did into your comment was that I was reading SelectiveOutrage’s comment that was immediately prior to yours. You rant a lot about what he stated earlier, but did not address those points.

    I admit that I should have realized more that you were addressing prior posts. Nevertheless, he still made some good points (in 121 for example). I retract the statement that the “bulk” of his comments may be correct. Still, some of yours are inaccurate as well. (Like the “no taxes ever” = Libertarian quip. Like so many others, you confuse Libertarianism with Anarchism. Sorry, but the Anarchists have their own political party, and Libertarians aren’t “no taxes ever”. If you’re going to chastise others, you should at least get your own political philosophies straight.)

  157. Brian T

    I believe in a young earth (6000-9000 years old) not because there is overwhelming scientific evidence in support of it, but because I believe the Bible is God’s truth, and it says so. (Actually, in my reading of Genesis, it technically doesn’t say that the earth was created 6000 years ago, just “in the beginning” and that it “was without form and void” for some time, but that in a week God created life on the earth, including human beings, and thus began the 6000-or-so-year period of human history. And the rest of the universe could indeed be much, much older than the earth, but it was still created by God.)

    I realize that there is evidence for (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2005/06/01/evidence-for-young-world) and against (http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/list.html) a young earth. But they cannot sway me from believing that God dictated the Bible, and therefore its statements are Truth. These are matters of faith, which is stronger than any apparent evidence.

    I realize that many Christians don’t believe that Genesis is literal – that there was a six-day creation, followed some 1600 years later by a global flood, followed several hundred years later by a Tower of Babel, followed pretty soon by the building of the pyramids and the rest of recorded history. And really, that isn’t a “heaven or hell” matter, something of real importance like the beliefs in the Virgin Birth or the Resurrection. I like to use the example of someone that believes that the first President of the United States was Abraham Lincoln. They would be wrong, but it wouldn’t make them go to Hell.

    Anyway, to me the simpler explanation is that the Bible is literally true. Otherwise, it would distinguish better from a poetic, metaphorical story (as Genesis would otherwise be) and the things that really are important (two of which I just mentioned.) It’s what I believe, and I don’t think it really affects anybody else.

    Now, I personally don’t have any aspirations for elected office, but so what if I did? If people voted for me, then they would be supporting me (or at least calling me the lesser of two evils), and that would give me the right to be there. And let’s say I wanted to be on the Science Committee and formulate legislation for our schools. People like to go on about how religion shouldn’t have any place in government, but that is an empty argument. Because really, they are only saying that they think the people that should have a voice in government are the people who don’t believe that my religion is true. And really, that is a religious belief too, isn’t it? Are those people like me who have a religious belief not supposed to represent others, or be represented themselves? That’s not the America our founding fathers intended, and not one I want to live in.

  158. e2247

    Absolutely everything is political. Astronomy is as much about struggle as is anything else. Ask Copernicus.

  159. flip

    @Brian T

    The issue isn’t whether or not someone holds those beliefs. The issue is that someone who holds those beliefs may wish to implement policies in important areas that aren’t based on science.

    A perfect example is the attempt to force schools to teach creationism in science classes. If you believe in creationism, then teach it in religious classes, not science.

    In addition, I think seeing as how your Constitution prohibits government support of religion then one *should* care whether or not government *policy* is used to implement religious ideas. To put it another way: would you be annoyed if an Islamic politician started insisting that all girls in all public schools were to wear hijabs? Would you think “you know, that politician can believe what he wants, but he shouldn’t force his beliefs on other people”?

    Not forcing beliefs on other people is *exactly* what your founding fathers wanted.

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