Scientists: Scamming America

By Sean Carroll | October 27, 2011 9:17 am

From The Daily Show, via Why Evolution is True, here’s a hard-hitting expose on the slick con called “science” that is scamming America.

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I am generally a fan of the two-party system. Sadly, at the moment in this country, one of the parties is completely crazy.

Update: Sorry that the video isn’t available outside the U.S. Note that Lisa Randall was a guest earlier on the show.

  • PartyPooper

    Seems like a one party system to me. Its all about the money. I prefer the no party system.

  • FredB

    I’ll see your one party and raise you one party. If you don’t see both parties as crazy it is because of your own crazy.

  • Ciaran

    “Sorry, this video is unavailable from your location”

    Is it online anywhere else?

  • Chris

    @3 Try hulu

  • Paul B

    Hulu, like wherever this link is going, is US only

  • ivy privy

    Halloween is a great time in Ithaca. Ask your hosts to take you trick-or-treating in Fall Creek.

  • Bob Flisser

    That segment was very funny and did a good job ridiculing the bozos who deny science. And if Hulu doesn’t have the video, you should be able to find it on

    Lisa Randall was very good, also. I’m going to buy her new book as soon as I’m done with Warped Passages, which she wrote a few years ago.

  • Ivan Berg

    Support evolution – shoot back. For every Grand Canyon sedimentary deposition “proving” Noah’s flood there is a Snake River Plain tectonic graben of layered rhyolite and basalt proving Satan did it with fire since since middle Miocene. Test of faith!

    The Democraps are the party of bad ideas, the Republicants are the party of no ideas. They sum to the Party, the confluence of overwhelming ignorance with overweening arrogance, a corrupt clown car of incompetence, an abusive hegemony of beige fomented by feckless crapweasels.

    Reality deficit disorder leads to deformed decisions causing economic cloudy days. Redirected stupidity is not intelligence. The greatest obstacle to understanding reality is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Reality is not a peer vote.

    It is incompetent fascists, corporatists, and double-digit IQ christ-besotted hind gut fermenters against bleeding heart Liberals, welfare pimps, Enviro-whiners, feminazis, and Queer Nation. God save us from the congenitally inconsequential.

    The western Snake River Plain is a large rift valley filled with several km of lake sediments (good), said sediments being underlain by rhyolite and basalt (OK), and overlain by basalt. That last one isn’t fixed by faith.

  • CraterJoe

    Ivan, I think you’ve given the disease a new name “Reality deficit disorder”. I love it,

  • mchammer

    Ivan Berg, I like the cut of your jib. In fact, you remind me an awful lot of our ol’ friend Uncle Al.

  • zzz

    The Democrats aren’t much better Sean. Moreover, Republican presidents always seem to have funded science better, especially basic physical sciences – at least when they are in power.

    Here’s some issues or examples of anti-science usually supported by some Democrats:

    * The autism vacine controversy
    * nuclear power hysteria (even though I don’t support nuclear power, I state this point)
    * Neo-luddism and technophobia
    * “organic” and raw foods rejecting basic hygiene practices, e.g. pasteurization, or rejecting chemistry (many man-made molecules/substances are better known for their effects on the human body or more pure than organic, naturally found substances)
    * rejection of GM foods as something bad, but unnatural selection (e.g. selective breeding) that has been going on for centuries is OK
    * “alternative” medicine, c.f. Steve Jobs and Kucinich or nutty people like Deepak Chopra
    * scewy things like UFOs, misunderstands on quantum mechanics applied to everyday life, etc

    I could go on. Anti-science sentiment is everywhere, Sean. For the record, I’m a liberal.

  • Dutch Railroader

    @11 – ZZZ

    I’m not sure that I buy that all the things listed are unique to the left, but they are not a matter of official policy of the Democratic Party, nor brought up in debates, or other public forums in which the views of the candidates are tested against the correct ideology. The fact that Republican candidates must disavow both evolution and global warming has no analogue on the Democratic side.

  • Sagan’s dragon

    The video works fine in where I am (outside the US).

    You are stuck with your politics. Relatively reasonable Republicans simply don’t win primaries.

  • American

    @11 – zzz

    “Moreover, Republican presidents always seem to have funded science better, especially basic physical sciences – at least when they are in power.”

    Can you point to any actual data to support this false claim?

  • Low Math, Meekly Interacting

    One party’s crazy, the but the other’s effectively useless. How could anyone be a fan of this system any longer?

  • Thomas

    Is that actually Noelle Nikpour in the video, or is that someone playing her? It’s just … Poe’s law, you know.

  • Matt

    What are you talking about zzz?

    Sure, those tropes often crop up among various segments of the non-professional Left — among the masses — but you don’t hear Barack Obama, Bill or Hillary Clinton, etc., talking about UFOs, anti-nuclear hysteria, neo-Luddism, etc. (Obama supports loan guarantees for nuclear reactors for heaven’s sake!)

    That list of tropes is verboten among actual Democratic political leaders in the federal government. Among Democrats, the crazy is relegated to the masses, not the leadership.

    By contrast, denial of evolution and climate change, and acceptance of Biblical literalism, are fast becoming not just more frequent among Republican political leaders, but actual requirements of Republican candidates for the presidency, as well as federal office in many states. Republican crazy isn’t just consigned to the masses — it’s overtaking the leadership as well.

    There’s just no comparison between Democratic and Republican political leaders here. It’s not Coke vs. Pepsi — it’s Coke versus arsenic, and I can’t stand when people think they’re so “hip” for pretending that everybody is equally bad. If you refuse to make distinctions between crazy and non-crazy, you’re just penalizing the non-crazy!

  • Thomas

    I’m in Norway, the video worked for me?

  • Bill

    Some perspective from the AAAS:

  • zzz

    As Bill #19 shows, R&D has typically risen as a % of GDP with Republican presidents in the last 30 years. This may be because of Republicans keeping spending levels as GDP declines, or Democrats not increasing spending levels as GDP rises. Just as Obama can sell a Republican health care bill, Republican presidents can increase/sustain science R&D spending whereas Democratic presidents don’t usually have the political capital with conservatives to do so.

    As for anti-science sentiment with the “professional Left”, there are examples. Kucinich, for example, believes in UFOs, and adamantly supports for government spending into “alternative medicine”. San Francisco has warning labels for cell phones:

    The top Republican candidate right now is Mitt Romney, and he has in the past been a good supporter of science. John Huntsman and Gary Johnson are also other pro-science Republican candidates.

    The problem, ultimately, is with the American people, not the parties. Americans are anti-science, and politicians are only pandering with rhetoric. Both parties pander with “faith” and “God”. However, thankfully, this rhetoric doesn’t seem to translate into anything dangerous for science funding. Scientists, taking sides with one party or another, are really being counterproductve IMHO – you need to convince the public in the value of science, and the parties will pander accordingly. This is why Sean’s blog post is misguided.

  • Kati

    I can’t wait ’til I get my PhD and can leave the U.S. Even though I was born and raised here, I’m eager to leave.

  • chris


    sorry to burst your bubble, but if you are looking for a more science-friendly country than the US, I’m pretty sure you won’t find one.

    my US experience is from the Clinton era and things might have gone down the drain since then, but believe me, the rest of the world is far behind.

  • Phillip Helbig

    Don’t be so limited; there are other countries which are (more) science-friendly.

    The two-party system is part of the problem: both parties try to have an absolute majority, which means appealing to a huge chunk of the population, so alternative views don’t even get a chance.

  • Bad Wolf

    Does anybody remember the movie “Young Frankenstein”? Remember the town meeting when the young man steps up and says, “These scientists CLAIM they are working for us, but what they really want is to RULE THE WORLD!”

  • Matt


    Of course you choose Kucinich and San Francisco — they’re total outliers in the Democratic party. That’s like singling out Louie Gohmert and Mississippi for the GOP.

    But the fact is that the last GOP president, Bush, didn’t believe in evolution and didn’t accept the scientific consensus on climate change. Do you even remember Sarah Palin, who was VP on the last GOP presidential ticket? Or Michelle Bachmann, who was polling #1 for a while in the GOP primaries? And most of the current contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, from Newt Gingrich to Herman Cain and Rick Perry, don’t believe the science either. The House Speaker John Boener?

    Mitt Romney and John Huntsman (the latter polling at 1%) are the outliers in the GOP right now — they stand out precisely because they do accept most of the science. Sanity is an outlier in the GOP today. That’s a far cry from the days of Eisenhower or even George H.W. Bush, who were perfectly sane.

  • amphiox

    Mitt Romney has spent his entire campaign backtracking and repudiating his old pro-reality positions. So who knows how he would govern if elected?

    And despite all this repudiating, he’s been mired at the same 25% support, and the rest of the party is desperately looking for some anyone-but-Romney candidate to the point where they’ll entertain total lunatic incompetents like Perry and Cain.

    Huntsman is the ONLY candidate who has actively defended science in this election cycle and he’s within margin of error of zero.

    The Republican party isn’t just crazy, it is downright dangerous to the future wellbeing of America, and indeed the entire world.

  • James

    I’m in the pro-science camp, but I have to agree with Aasif Mandvi’s advice for aspiring scientists: run away as fast as you can (unless you’re aspiration is to do four postdocs and then become an adjunct professor at Oshkosh College).

  • JohnGalt

    If it were about scientific reasoning, you’d support the libertarian party (or no party at all.) No, its about funding your pet science projects… so you support whatever faction you believe most likely to use the force of government to steal from the few producers left in this country and give to you. We’re now running out of other people’s money – party’s over.

  • Elaine Ray

    Eugenics…. the most recent deadly ideas of science is not so new….
    Actually, Adolf Hitler started the Eugenics movement philosophy, E.g…. people that do not have or retain the genetic code of genius are therefore leaches to a society and should be terminated.

    I think the real problems lies today in man’s belief system which is torn away from honesty and reason leading to love and development of life enhancing cures, to selfish containment of these discoveries so that new discoveries can be witheld for the purpose of future marketing for personal gain. Usually an incentive is introduced, such as some new found illness that simply must have the cure. We see this alot in the pharmacutical companies and their agenda driven vacinnation campaigns.

    We live in an illusional world made up of false realities. Knowledge and science facinates me more than the best TV Show. By searching to find the answers to life and our personal lives within we must see reality and not for monetary profit; but rather for the profit to life itself.

  • Kevin Blair

    Maybe we need to stop letting civilians in space so we can get some real science accomplished


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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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