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The Problem With Congress's Scientific Illiterates

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the I-don't-get-it dept.

Education 509

Lasrick (2629253) writes "Brian Merchant at Motherboard examines the March 26th House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's 2015 budget request hearing. White House adviser Dr. John Holdren addressed the committee to defend funding for science programs. Video clips show comments that are difficult to believe, when you hear them. From the article: '"So, when you guys do your research, you start with a scientific—what do they call it—postulate or theory, and you work from that direction forward, is that right?" Representative Randy Weber (R-TX) said. "So, I'm just wondering how that related, for example, to global warming and eventual global cooling." He paused to make a joke about getting the scientists' cell phone number so he could call to ask when to buy a coat, before concluding that science just isn't up to the task.'"

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Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | about 5 months ago | (#46655809)

All you can do with somebody like that is just look them over, wince, be perplexed for a moment, and then move on. They aren't interested, nor would they listen to any attempt to aid their understanding.

It's not a winnable battle, so don't start the fight.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

Berkyjay (1225604) | about 5 months ago | (#46656085)

And this is why we fail. We get so defeated by ignorant politicians and just throw up our hands and say "what can you do?" But we get the government we deserve and most of this country is horribly undereducated and ignorant of how the world actually works.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46656343)

I think you're maybe half right.

We have a little less than half of the people that throw up their hands and give up because it is just so dumb.

We have another group at a little less than half that are so worn out with work, the 3 kids society said they should have, the junk they spend their money on, etc.. etc.. that they don't have the time to pay attention.

So you have 2% that are pissed off that our leadership is dumb as hell and are willing to fight the idiocy. And that's not enough.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 5 months ago | (#46656407)

It's not even that they're tired, or that they give up. It's that most people are apathetic and unintelligent, all in one convenient package.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46656675)

There's also the group that see idiocy all around and, knowing they can't fight it all, fight some battles and toss their arms up on others.

For example, my wife and I are fighting against EngageNY, Common Core, and the high-stakes testing that New York State has implemented. Without going too much into it (since it is off-topic), let's just summarize to say that New York's Board of Education is highly corrupt and this was rushed into to benefit politicians and funnel money to corporations, not students or teachers. In fact, it is actively hurting students. So we're fighting this fight.

Unfortunately, we can't fight every fight. I doubt anyone could. Even if you were single, with no kids, and were able to fight these fights every day, I doubt you would be able to battle all of them. At some point, you need to pick and choose and people are more likely to pick the battles that affect them immediately (schools) and less likely to pick battles that might affect them later on (science funding). This isn't to say that science isn't important - I definitely think it is, but you can't fight all the fights all the time.

Before you judge someone for throwing up their arms in frustration at this instead of fighting, take a closer look and see what other battles they're fighting.

Re:Don't bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656393)

Trying to convince the fools is what's not a winnable battle. I vote against them all the time.

Re:Don't bother. (-1, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46656529)

"And this is why we fail."

Yep. That's why you fail.

We KNOW that the survey that reported a 97% consensus [skepticalscience.com] was, in fact [wattsupwiththat.com] , bogus [climatedepot.com] .

75 or so cherry-picked responses out of a 10,000-person survey is not anything a responsible statistician would call valid.

And the "expert" doesn't even try to defend it. He does a fine job of moving the goalposts, but he doesn't support the actual claim at all. Because, of course, he knows it's bogus.

We also know, from the science, that there is no significant evidence that "climate change" has been increasing either the number or severity of extreme weather events. And so on.

The real question here is why a politician is actually asking perfectly legitimate questions, but is being labeled stupid on Slashdot for doing so.

This is the domain of ideologues, not science.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 5 months ago | (#46656715)

This is about science in general, not AGW in particular.

But if you want to make it about AGW, the science is not based on surveys, nor is it based on computer models.

It is based on old school physics that's been developing over centuries.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Not the most potent, but the primary driver.

Since the industrial revolution began,
a) Atmospheric CO2 has gone from 280 ppm to 400 ppm (40% increase)
b) ocean pH has gone down 0.1 (30% increase in acidity).

What each upcoming season's weather will be we aren't sure.

But we are sure our changes to the atmosphere are warming the planet, acidifying and enlarging the oceans, and displacing and killing living things.

All your denialist microquibbles, character assassinations, and FUD are red herrings.

The core science is not in dispute. It is accepted by every established scientific association on the planet, for every branch of science.

It's basically accepted by everyone except one political faction in one scientifically illiterate country.

Re:Don't bother. (-1, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 5 months ago | (#46656839)

"This is about science in general, not AGW in particular."

The video clip being discussed was about AGW, and it was the cause of people saying here that politicians are stupid. Claiming otherwise won't get you anywhere.

"But if you want to make it about AGW, the science is not based on surveys, nor is it based on computer models."

I didn't "make it" about anything. The videoclip was about AGW, and OP's post was (largely) about the video clip. And the video clip, in turn, was largely about the survey. You're trying to move the goalposts here.

But aside from that, you're still wrong. The computer models are supposed to be based on the science, not the other way around.

"It is based on old school physics that's been developing over centuries."

It is based on old-school physics that have been discredited. Fourier's conclusions about his friend's experiments turned out to be wrong... the experimental apparatus in fact formed a real greenhouse. But... greenhouse gas theory is not based based on a the kind of heating that occurs in real greenhouses, which is known to be the prevention of convective cooling. Greenhouse gas theory is completely different, having to do with trapping of radiation. Which has been thoroughly discredited. [principia-scientific.org] (Just one example of said discrediting.)

Don't try to debate me on the science, guy. I've got you beat. I can keep shooting you down all day.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 5 months ago | (#46656625)

The problem is that these people aren't just ignorant. People who are ignorant can be educated and then they're fine. These people are willfully ignorant. They are purposefully ignorant. They take pride in their ignorance and will do everything in their power to stay ignorant. Trying to educate these people is a losing proposition because they won't listen no matter what you say or how much proof you show them.

It would be tolerable if these people were just conspiracy nuts ala the "moon landing were faked" folks. We could laugh at them and move on with our lives. These people, however, are in seats of power in the government and are making big decisions about scientific funding. Again, perhaps we could laugh at them if we knew that the educated populace would toss the ignorant politicians when the next election rolled around. Unfortunately, the purposefully ignorant politicians are representing purposefully ignorant people who keep voting them in and who actively oppose educated politicians. To make matters worse, the willfully ignorant politicians gerrymander their districts so that it is nearly impossible to get them voted out of office. They might be purposefully ignorant about science but they are very intelligent about how politics works - a very dangerous combination.

You can't reason with these people. You can oppose them, but it can be very frustrating when you are derided for wanting someone who is educated to make these decisions instead of someone who thinks God *poofed* everything into existence 10,000 years ago as proved incontrovertibly by a book that they take literally. In the end, I can understand why some people throw their arms up in frustration.

Re:Don't bother. (5, Insightful)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | about 5 months ago | (#46656163)

"All you can do with somebody like that is"
is to do EVERYTHING possible to have them removed from office ASAP!!!!

Re:Don't bother. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656451)

The point isn't to fix them.
The goal is to ridicule them, shut them up, use them as an example that scares students into paying attention in school and then actually voting, and then to replace them in future elections.

It's not going to turn into a better world without large-scale attempts at education, so don't give up just because this particular turd is un-flushable.

Re:Don't bother. (2)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 5 months ago | (#46656711)

Just look at this [forbes.com] . The representative here is spouting around claiming that his assumptions, essentially, flout the experiments of numerous scientists. During the Bush administration the government came up for some bright plan for fuel-cell cars, and essentially decided to kill off electric cars in favor of fuel cells. Guess how many hydrogen stations you see across to country now? And the Kevin Mitnick case. The ignorant justice officials in the court case apparently were so paranoid about giving a computer to the defendant, they wouldn't even let him review the evidence on a computer disconnected from a network. The prosecution also pressed for this, citing that the evidence was so much they couldn't print it all out. Is that constitutional to not allow the accused to review the evidence with an attorney? And the "oh-global-warming-climate-change is a joke" attitudes? Well, go ask the Chinese. I'm pretty sure they would have some choice things to say about that. And why the f**k do 'mericans elect these guys to office in the first place? Do we really need to shove everything in our politicians' faces to get them to understand?

Re:Don't bother. (3, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about 5 months ago | (#46656735)

Considering the positions of power and influence those fools hold, your statement is pretty much the equivalent of being somewhere lost at sea with a navigator that won't let anyone else navigate despite the fact that he has no idea how to do it, and thinks the compass is some kind of fancy combination lock on a secret stash of fairy dust. The idiots are going to sink the F-N ship and there are NO LIFEBOATS !

It's generally considered unwise to ignore the creep with the gun to your head, no matter how stupid and irrational he is.

The symptom, not the true problem. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46655821)

The problem is AMERICA's scientific illiterates. How do you think the idiots get to congress? I'll never vote for anyone that speaks out against evolution.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 months ago | (#46655879)

Indeed. I shouldn't be, but am quite amazed with how people abuse their votes, and WILLFULLY put ignorant imbeciles in congress. And then don't even have enough shame to rectify the mistake.
Congress should have our very best people, not dregs.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46655989)

They do this because the buy the lie that to vote for anyone other than Imbecile #1 or Imbecile #2 is to throw away their vote.

Captcha: disobey

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656049)

If you're going to eat a dog shit sandwich and the only difference is the breed of dog, does it really make a difference?

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (4, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 months ago | (#46656327)

If you're going to eat a dog shit sandwich and the only difference is the breed of dog, does it really make a difference?

If given a choice between a Teacup Yorkie sandwich and an Irish Wolfhound sandwich, I think you would be able to state a preference.

I think voters who live in an area where all they have is a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee might want to consider moving when the first good opportunity comes along. I sure wouldn't want my children to grow up in a place where science is considered a swear word and obvious fairy tales are considered truth.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (2)

meerling (1487879) | about 5 months ago | (#46656757)

Of course, the way the system is rigged, not-an-imbecile #1 doesn't get on the ballot in the first place.
It's almost as bad as the old USSR elections, you can elect any member of the communist party that the communist party tells you that you can elect.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656867)

Horsecrap. In most elections these days (especially in red states) you have a clear choice between a mouthbreather who wouldn't know a scientific principal if it bit them on the ass because they're too busy masturbating with a Bible in one hand and an eighteen-year old male prostitute in the other and another, slightly more enlightened candidate that at least won't get in the way of science. In most cases, we know which political parties they align with.

However, for some reason, people who froth at the mouth the most about unwinnable-by-third-party elections and idiots in Congress all while bitching about scientific illiteracy in the people that get elected never seem to vote for the non-mouth-breather - they vote for the bigger idiot because they want to lower taxes or are on the team that lowers taxes (or loves guns or some such crap) because in reality, they just don't care as much about science as that other stuff. If science matters to you, then vote for it. Otherwise STFU because everyone's getting tired of your whining, especially when it's a result of you voting the way you do because no one will ever agree with you on every issue and you don't care enough to vote for someone who would support science because it doesn't matter as much as guns or government too big or money or whatevs.

Yes, Libertarians who vote Republican, I'm looking at you.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656021)

if WILLFULLY put ignorant imbeciles are voted in, then they can be persuaded to believe other inane things. Win for the lobbyists.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (1)

Goetterdaemmerung (140496) | about 5 months ago | (#46656101)

Indeed. I shouldn't be, but am quite amazed with how people abuse their votes, and WILLFULLY put ignorant imbeciles in congress. And then don't even have enough shame to rectify the mistake.
Congress should have our very best people, not dregs.

They represent the people. Nowhere does it say they have to be the best people. Some representatives are above average. Most are average. Some are below average. Pick whatever criterion you choose for your comparison.

To add some flavor, the people who run for office are not an even distribution of the population. Lawyers are highly represented.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656469)

Some representatives are above average. Most are average. Some are below average.

Above average? Most are average? A grand majority are just sociopathic/ignorant trash; averages are irrelevant. You can see this by how many of them voted for the Patriot Act (and many continue to do so, even if that number is less); they took advantage of people at the right time and used that opportunity to further destroy our constitution and freedoms. Furthermore, the tolerance of the NSA surveillance and TSA shows that most representatives are indeed pieces of garbage.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656109)

look, he may be an idiot, but he's not that idiotic. he's trolling. same
as what bush jr did. classic bullying, pretending to be so unbelievably
stupid just to get a rise out of your target

the problem isn't the the electorate is putting idiots into office,
its that they've decided that the entertainment value of
putting a bully into office is more important than governance

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656167)

Congress should have our very best people, not dregs.

It does. It has our people who are the very best at lying through their teeth to accumulate more power and wealth for themselves.

Yeah, we should probably be aiming for those who are the very best at other things, but unfortunately the voters don't seem to agree with me.

To Be Fair... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46656397)

To be fair, nobody can verify evolution or global warming in their own garage (without lots of money or time).

One pretty much must rely on experts, and certain people believe most scientists are biased in order to get more funding by "kissing up to the government" or to morally justify "deviant behavior" by "proving" there is no deity.

That suspicion not entirely irrational. People in general are often selfish and biased, and there's no reason to think professional scientists are immune to such human failures.

Perhaps they are projecting, knowing they'd sell out their research "answers" to the highest bidder if they were in the position of scientists.

It's a sticky situation, but I cannot in good faith call their reasoning process "irrational" even though I'd like to thunk them on the head.

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 months ago | (#46656463)

"Indeed. I shouldn't be, but am quite amazed with how people abuse their votes, and WILLFULLY put ignorant imbeciles in congress. And then don't even have enough shame to rectify the mistake."

See what science has discovered about the brain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:The symptom, not the true problem. (4, Funny)

Xyrus (755017) | about 5 months ago | (#46656555)

Every time I think congress can't lower the bar anymore, yet another complete fucking moron in Congress finds a new way to do so. Well played Mr. Weber.

Yet another day of watching Rome burn.

Science used to be cool... (1)

jasonrice22 (3458571) | about 5 months ago | (#46656257)

...until it got all preachy.

always Republicans (5, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46656673)

look at the actual votes on policy...it's always Republicans doing anti-science policy

creationism in schools? Republicans
climate change denial? Republicans
defunding research? Republicans

Congress isn't "all idiots"...for every bullshit anti-science law Congress passes there are Democrats/Progressives who vote against it

Any discussion that does not take these facts into account is pointless and will continue infinitely

Re:always Republicans (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656725)

Your comment is anti science considering that the facts say otherwise [nytimes.com] .

GMO crops (1, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46656827)

that link is about GMO crops...it doesn't have any Democrats being "anti-science" in any way whatsoever...

objecting to downmod (-1, Offtopic)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46656849)

I object to my above comment receiving a "Troll" mod.

I am not trolling at all. I was on topic and I pointed out **facts that could be verified**

The saddest thing isn't that he believes this. (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 5 months ago | (#46655833)

It's that the Congressman is so sure his remarks will be lauded widely within his District that he doesn't care whether they're accurate or not.

Typical politician... say what you think they want to hear.

Congress's (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46655867)

It would be: Congress'

AGW Jihadists are the culprit (-1, Flamebait)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#46655871)

Instead of being conservative and creditable, as scientists typically are, and argue for more funding due to the gravity of possible consequences, you crazies went off "we all gonna die!!!!!".

Fuckers.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0, Flamebait)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#46655887)

You crazies not only messed up climate research, you fucked up the public image of science/scientists in general.

Fuckers.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46655939)

Says the guy who really thinks calling random audiences online AGW Jihadists as a personalized slang that will convince people that they are right....

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0, Flamebait)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#46655965)

WTF are you talking about! If you have something to say be specific instead of wah, wah, wah, gurgle, gurgle...

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656593)

If only there was some accountability for all the imbeciles that know better than the climate scientists... If you, and the mental pygmies that mod such tripe as insightful, had to risk so much as $100 on the proposition that you might be wrong and just seething with hatred for Al Gore, we'd be spared listening to your politically-motivated bullshit. If you don't understand science, please shut the fuck up or go rail about the moon landing conspiracy somewhere else.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0, Troll)

msmonroe (2511262) | about 5 months ago | (#46655925)

Can't understand you my man, get the cock out of your mouth!

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (4, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | about 5 months ago | (#46655995)

If you look at the latest IPCC report, I don't think you'll see a single instance of "we're all gonna die!" So nice strawman. You can see some of the highlights of the report here: http://billmoyers.com/2014/03/... [billmoyers.com]

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656207)

So you ask a bunch of people on government grants, at the intergovernmental Pannel on Cimate Change if there is a grave matter require more government.... and when these dudes say yes, you think that at face value?

The classic "2500 IPCC scientists who unanimously ..." thing. There weren't 2500 of them, they weren't all scientists, and they weren't even unanamous.

Personally, I think climate change is real, I think it is probably partially-anthropogenic. And I know you liberal moonbats are up in the night if you think screwing America over or killing capitalism is going to stop it. No shit so many countries signed the kyoto deal... the deal didn't require THEM to do anything. Ask 25 countries to sign a piece of paper that says the 26th guy is the only one getting screwed.... and you are suprised there is the one abstainer?

To top it off, you guys REALLY are putting all your eggs in one basket. Now we cant talk about real polution without some goddamned NPR junkie chiming in with some AGW bullshit.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46656373)

I'd listen if you didn't have to take a hard right line and make a strawman out of every "liberal" position.

Liberal in quotes since you obviously mean it as a pejorative here. Search/replace liberal for "asshole" and your meaning stays the same.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 months ago | (#46656513)

If you look at the latest IPCC report, I don't think you'll see a single instance of "we're all gonna die!"

It's bleeding obvious that we're all gonna die.
Except, perhaps, to those faithers who believe in rapture.

If you mean deaths caused by climate change, there are many who see evidence that this is already happening. Certainly not "all", but to some, one or a hundred or a couple of thousand deaths are too much.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656195)

I'd be willing to bet ten grand that you don't weigh an ounce under 350 pounds.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (2)

by (1706743) (1706744) | about 5 months ago | (#46656255)

As a theory, AGW is in many respects similar to evolution: they're both lousy theories, but they happen to be right. By "lousy theory," I mean that they fail to make quantitative predictions. Evolutionary theory cannot say exactly how many centimeters longer the teeth of some species living on island X relates to its kin on mainland Y. However, it can say, "the teeth will be better suited to the environment."

I'm certainly no expert on either evolution or AGW, but a similar claim for AGW might be something along the lines of, "if you do something to a chaotic system, stuff will happen." Clearly there are published papers that try to make more quantitative models -- some successfully, some not so much. But I would be interested in reading a paper -- published in a legitimate journal -- with the phrase, "we are all gonna die!!!!!" I'm just not so sure the editors of Nature or Science would let that many consecutive exclamation marks get by...

In pre-Newton/Galileo/etc. times, as far as I know the theory of gravity was basically, "things tend to fall." It's a terrible theory, sure, but it happens to be right.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656411)

Evolutionary theory can and does absolutely make hard, precise quantitative predictions. It's just that most of them are at the genetic level. But they're falsifiable predictions, nonetheless, which exclude other possible models.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (2)

flaming error (1041742) | about 5 months ago | (#46656445)

Translations from Byese to Sciencese:

"theory that produces quantitative predictions" = Law
"theory that happens to be right" = Theory
[theory that happens to be wrong] = Falsehood

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (0)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 months ago | (#46656455)

Wrong. Evolution describes the process, but does not make prediction, and the process has been observed repeatedly.

AGW tries to both describe and predict, but is too primitive to even verify given the precision and time interval required.

Re:AGW Jihadists are the culprit (1)

flaming error (1041742) | about 5 months ago | (#46656871)

AGW has been described just fine. And it has been thoroughly verified. So disprove it, and you'll be a scientific rock star, nobel laureate, and savior.

The prediction part is indeed too primitive to produce the precision "skeptics" demand. So model it better for us.

Lest we forget.... (5, Funny)

DKroos (3326275) | about 5 months ago | (#46655923)

Takes the crown. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:Lest we forget.... (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 5 months ago | (#46656141)

When I first saw that video, I assumed due to the crummy resolution that some joker had voiced it over. I checked the congressional record, though, and that man actually asked those questions in front of the committee where the stenographer could hear him. Page 27: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/C... [gpo.gov] Props to Admiral Willard for maintaining a straight face?

Re:Lest we forget.... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46656485)

Don't listen to anyone that assumes this is a party-based phenomenon.

We have the worst of worst in ALL positions of leadership.

Blame the rise of dominionism in fundamentalist... (2, Interesting)

Assmasher (456699) | about 5 months ago | (#46655959)

...Christianity.

Please note that I didn't say blame Christianity, or fundamentalists, I said blame dominionism.

Their goal is to subvert and abuse the very words people use to describe things like 'science' (i.e. 'historical science'), 'liberty', and 'freedom.' They want nothing to do with science and they're spending amazing amounts of money electing people who are willing to espouse their causes - anything to get elected.

Re:Blame the rise of dominionism in fundamentalist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656003)

F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit, chapter 7.

Sure the comment was stupid but ... (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 5 months ago | (#46656015)

I'm sure with 438 men and women in Congress, stupid things get said everyday.

And most of them are 60 or 70 years old and don't understand things like the internet, cell phones and haven't been in college or highschool in 50 some years to know what science is.

This isn't so surprising that someone would say something very ignorant, but no doubt it happens every day and those people are out in the real world too.

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656093)

And most of them are 60 or 70 years old and don't understand things like the internet, cell phones and haven't been in college or highschool in 50 some years to know what science is.

Just to remind you: most of the people who created and built those things are also 60 or 70 yeras old, with many of them still busily teaching you young'uns how they work.

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (2)

arth1 (260657) | about 5 months ago | (#46656439)

Just to remind you: most of the people who created and built those things are also 60 or 70 yeras old, with many of them still busily teaching you young'uns how they work.

In my experience, the young ones in general don't want to know. They want magic boxes running magic programming languages,so that pesky "understanding" thing doesn't interfere.

And a lot of older people don't want them precisely because they're marketed as magic boxes for dummies.
That leaves too few that actually understand or want to understand the technology. And yes, most of them are older.

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#46656601)

They want magic boxes running magic programming languages,so that pesky "understanding" thing doesn't interfere.

Didn't you know? The world of software is more maintainable if it's kept extremely abstract and the actual functionality is locked away in magic boxes that only a few wizards are allowed to touch. That's the whole idea behind high level languages like Java, C++, Visual Basic, etc.

I am an Assembly Language programmer and code embedded controllers up from the reset vector. I remember the first time I encountered a coworker who was a habitual high level code slinger and couldn't get it when the timer wouldn't do anything, cuz they never initiated it. That's an aside, though. Stick to your highly maintainable object orientation (coded in whatever language is in fashion ATM.) Fantasies are fun!

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (1)

lonOtter (3587393) | about 5 months ago | (#46656507)

But not the politicians. Were they actual innovators, they wouldn't need to take some rote memorization classes in order to recall facts.

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 5 months ago | (#46656391)

I'm sure with 438 men and women in Congress, stupid things get said everyday.

Understatement... it's what's for dinner!

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 5 months ago | (#46656623)

I'm sure with 438 men and women in Congress, stupid things get said everyday.

And most of them are 60 or 70 years old and don't understand things like the internet, cell phones and haven't been in college or highschool in 50 some years to know what science is.

These particular idiots are members of Senate/House Committees responsible for Science.
Of all the people in the Congress, they should have some basic understanding of how science works.

Re:Sure the comment was stupid but ... (1)

ComputersKai (3499237) | about 5 months ago | (#46656767)

They probably have some experience studying, in order for them to get appointed on a specific committee in the first place. Problem is, they seem to ignore the more educated opinions of people who are actually more dedicated to whatever field the committee manages. (i.e. scientists, professors, doctors)

Let's say, when the Earth is about to get destroyed (hyperbolic example).

Scientist: Oh no! How are we going to save everyone. Or how are we going to save the few that are going to carry our species forward. What about ethics?

Politicians: Oh no! the world is ending. The scientists are working on asolution to get us out of here though, but only a few of us? If you vote me for reelection, I will guarantee that all you underrepresented [insert extreme party loyalist group here] will be guaranteed free and equal passage on this escape vehicle!

what stuns me (5, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | about 5 months ago | (#46656023)

What stuns me is that someone that ignorant of the process and so critical of science in the first place, can get themselves put on the Science Space and Technology committee in the first place. You couldn't have picked a worse group of persons to make budgetary decisions about our countries science future. They might as well just go ahead and deny all science spending, kill NASA, DOE, NSF and NIH, and call it a day.

Re:what stuns me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656157)

I don't know why that surprises you. Committee selection is supposed to be all about "balanced opinion" so that the outcomes are reasonable and don't stray too far from the sensible middle ground, otherwise a committee full of fanbois would approve all sorts of nonsense. What we have here, unfortunately, is a committee full of dullards who are pushing back despite what common sense tells everyone else what should be done.

Re:what stuns me (3, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | about 5 months ago | (#46656475)

It's because these people speak Party orthodoxy and can be relied upon to keep politically-inconvenient science tied up.

Re:what stuns me (1)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#46656517)

"They might as well just go ahead and deny all science spending, kill NASA, DOE, NSF and NIH, and call it a day."

Exactly.

Cosmos (1)

mendax (114116) | about 5 months ago | (#46656077)

A good dose of the Cosmos mini-series, both old and new, may be in order. Countless people of my generation were enlightened and educated by the first series. I would love to lock both houses of Congress in the House chambers, lock the door, and make them watch both series. Many scientific ignoramuses there may be enlightened, especially when they learn just how much good science has been government funded. But then there will be the religious fundamentalists who are thump their bibles and declare it all to be blasphemy. Those who are enlightened should be congratulated; those who cling to their religion despite the facts before them need to be put into a nuclear fusion torus and vaporized. That'll give them a bit of religion!

Chimps are more intelligent (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | about 5 months ago | (#46656097)

Scientist goes to Congress to celebrate Jane Goodall's 80th birthday.

economics (3, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | about 5 months ago | (#46656133)

These guys have no problem accepting the validity of an economic theory based on an "Invisible Hand" - yet when it comes to actual solid science based on actual method and process (as opposed to expensive silk suits), they start looking for conspiracy theories to explain the results.

Re:economics (5, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46656477)

have no problem accepting the validity of an economic theory based on an "Invisible Hand" - yet...

It's not invisible:

http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/imag... [nasa.gov]

He let them know what He thinks of Trickle Down theory.

Re:economics (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656811)

The difference is that when I look outside my window I can see the invisible hand at work. Cars driving by, people going to work, kids going to school, etc. Life as normal. What I ALSO see is that we are having the coldest winter in years and yet LEFT WING MORONS are still harping on about global warming. At least we libertarians believe in something that has actual real world consequences backed up by actual scientific facts and economics. You AGW idiots wouldn't know actual science if it came right up to you and introduced itself. In summary: why don't you read a fucking book instead of watching and reading the mainstream press all day.

Twain (5, Funny)

McGruber (1417641) | about 5 months ago | (#46656137)

"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress; but I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

Idiocracy (1)

EngineeringStudent (3003337) | about 5 months ago | (#46656173)

In business, if a manager doesn't know their product, their market, the employees and the job - they are junk.
In politics, they are elected.

I think there is a problem of scope. When the constitution and balance of power were created the "leader to citizen ratio" was likely hugely less adverse. Who in the 13 colonies would have imagined the number of people in the USA would equal 1/3rd of the planet's population. In 1776 there were 800 million living humans. Right now there are 350 million Americans. I don't think the government "balances" were built to work as well with that many people.

This has likely been going on for some time. The refreshing thought is that as soon as a different system becomes even a little more efficient, it will start outpacing the US in terms of real innovation, real economics, and great decisions by leaders. It is not a question of "if" something better is going to come along and show the un-bright folks what they are - it is only a question of when and how.

Re:Idiocracy (3, Interesting)

Gavrielkay (1819320) | about 5 months ago | (#46656447)

The problem is more fundamental than that. It is us as Americans. The politicians know their market very well, and in fact pay lots of money to mold the market into ever more gullible sheep. Most Americans have a cursory education in science at best. We've got it drilled into us to treat everything we don't want to hear with skepticism and to think elections are pointless because they're all losers so we may as well vote for the one with the most TV ads.

Until Americans stop considering educated people to be elitist and stop voting for the guy they'd want to sit next to at an outdoor bar-b-que, you aren't going to get anything fixed.

Re:Idiocracy (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656771)

In business, if a manager doesn't know their product, their market, the employees and the job - they are junk.

A few weeks back I was talking with a reasonably famous scientist about the problem of administrative overhead: that it's increasingly common for scientists to be a situation where it would be technically feasible to perform some interesting experiment on a time scale of weeks but that getting the necessary administrative approvals can easily take months or even years. And he said, yes, that it often happens that the administrators forget that they work for us (the scientists).

I actually watched some of the hearing and what was striking to me is that the politicians were doing a lot more talking than listening. Real science is about exploring the unknown - like a maze of paths through an unexplored forest. Sometimes you really want to go forward but the way forward is blocked. Other times you discover easy paths to exciting new discoveries that you didn't expect. If the leaders aren't listening to the scientists on the ground then the process will be incredibly inefficient - efforts focused on paths that are obviously (to the scientists) blocked while ignoring exciting new directions.

For example, this year the price of whole genome sequencing has fallen to about $1,500 and all you need is about a milliliter of saliva that can be mailed to the sequencing facility at room temperature. Now the best sequencing facility is in Korea and the best tubes are made in Canada . So the USA isn't exactly out in front on this. But it's now technologically possible to sequence every newborn at birth. This is an incredible opportunity to detect all kinds of rare genetic disorders at birth - what's needed is the software analysis pipelines. And I wouldn't necessarily expect the general public in the USA to be aware of this.

But in an ideal world, the political leaders would be sufficiently tuned into (listening) to the scientists to know what's going on. Instead you have Obama's FDA shutting down 23andMe with all kinds of inane bureaucracy. If some kid was suspected of having a brain tumor and the parent wanted to do some exporatory surgery on the dining room table with a set of power tools and instructions provided by 23andMe then I'd say, sure, shut 'em down. But what if some kid is suspected of having a genetic condition and the parent wants to look through the kid's genome on his personal computer with some tools provided by 23andMe? I mean, yeah, the parent probably isn't going to be successful and, in the ideal world, it would be easy for the parent to get some help from someone with a PhD in molecular genetics. But where's the harm?

If the fundamental problem is lack of access to the PhD in molecular genetics then listen to the scientists and solve that problem! Don't just crush the (USA's) future with inane FDA bureaucracy.

THE FUCK?!? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656181)

WHAT THE FUCK. This...fuck what the god damn....unfucking believable. These "people" are such an incredible embarrassment I can't even express this correctly. What the ever living fuck. FFS....just...FUCK. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU the captcha is 'conserve'.....I'm starting to have a fucking panic attack now. FUCK

Your vote doesn't even count (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656211)

Without proportional representation, all you're doing is making a checkmark on a piece of paper and calling it democracy.

Common core manufactures them (1)

amightywind (691887) | about 5 months ago | (#46656213)

The leftist collectionist statist democrats and their teacher's union slaves are manufacturing scientifically illiterate children with their moronic common core.

Re:Common core manufactures them (4, Insightful)

Gavrielkay (1819320) | about 5 months ago | (#46656473)

While I agree the left isn't doing a good job, the right is no more interested in a scientifically literate populace. Our two party system has nicely carved up the population and will continue to trade power back and forth while nothing really changes. And people like you spouting partisan nonsense are part of the reason they get away with it.

false dichotomy_we can solve this problem (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46656651)

this isn't a "two party system issue"...that's a Red Herring...all systems in gov't across nations have two factions, even Europe (majority/minority groups of parties)

we can know who votes for things like Creationism in schools...you can look it up...its ****always Republicans****

saying one group is always wrong doesn't at all excuse any other group...but unless you look at ****policy votes**** this discussion is worthless

Re:Common core manufactures them (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 5 months ago | (#46656585)

these guys were out of school several decades before common core was even a thought, if anything it should show you what kind of bumble fucks our states were producing on their own

Re:Common core manufactures them (1)

mutantSushi (950662) | about 5 months ago | (#46656609)

None of current US Representatives or Senators were educated under "Common Core" standards, and I would hazard that a large number were educated in private schools to begin with. BTW, I believe the poster "amightywind" meant to refer to "collectivist", not "collectionist" state democrats. :-O ...Might want to back that claim up with comparative statistics for scientific literacy in Democratic vs. Republican controlled states....

Obligatory xkcd (5, Funny)

mjvvjm (1003135) | about 5 months ago | (#46656223)

America is the new Roman Empire (3, Insightful)

Ogre332 (145645) | about 5 months ago | (#46656231)

It's only a matter of time before we collapse.

Re:America is the new Roman Empire (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#46656657)

I was making just this point about the Supreme Court striking down limits on campaign contributions. The Romans never quite admitted to themselves that their republic was defunct. They remained deeply attached to republican forms and institutions, even when those things had withered to ceremonial appendages of a corrupt imperial state. It was necessary for people to go through the motions of democracy; the ambitious plutocrats needed to maintain the fiction they were serving Rome, when in fact Rome was serving them.

You Fucking Commies! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656359)

The following is transcribed from the answer provided by an average American when asked about the value of science and how our elected officials address the advancement of same.

Amurika! Fuck Yeah! We da shiznit, mothafuckas! When all yall forinn niggaz gone ruleze dat we will crush yall. so shut da fuck up and take what you given. we done need no siens or math, cuz we got da gunz and da missiles mothafucka! we don't need no faggot sientest tellin us what's up, we got jaysus!

I'm against age discrimination, but re-thinking it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656457)

Instead of requiring people who run for office to be at least 35, 30 or 25 depending on what they are running for I propose a radical re-think. Lets limit people in office to those between the ages of 25 and 35. This way you reduce the chance of voting in people with inexperience in the real world (ie you would at least get people who have some working experience, post-high school and post-college) and prevent people too far removed from education from making important decisions. Lets be honest with ourselves. Ones height is around the age of 28 and after that its all downhill. I'm 29 almost 30 and I have no doubts I'm past my prime. If you haven't made it by 28 chances are you never will.

Forest, not Trees (2)

mutantSushi (950662) | about 5 months ago | (#46656461)

This article is just missing the point. There is nothing shocking that such people exist, or that some of them may even be elected to the national legislature. What is shocking is that they are crucial to the balance of power in that legislature. And that comes down not to them or their co-believers, but much broader aspects of American political structure. Normally one would expect the US House of Representatives to be MORE representative than the US Senate, as the Senate is all elected by the plurality winner takes all vote of entire states, while the House is elected by smaller numbers of citizens. That is in fact exactly the opposite of the case, with the US House of Representatives returning strong Republican majorities despite Democrats winning the popular vote in House races over-all. That is due to gerry-mandering of districts, which creates electoral 'ghettos' with super-concentration of support for one political party, which ends up being "wasted votes" (since having more than a majority or plurality in a district doesn't gain any more representation in Congress): In many states, one party needs from 1.2 to 1.6 times as many votes to get the same number of representatives in Congress, again reflecting the "wasted vote" phenomenon, even while the official paradigm is "one person one vote". Each state is allowed to re-district as it pleases, de facto according to the balance of power in that state), in other words tending to serve the majoritarian group in that state... i.e. exactly counter to the apparent purpose for having a larger number of more granular smaller-population districts vs. state-wide votes for Senators. Now one can expect Republican-majority states to gerrymander to their own favor, and Democrat-majority states to do likewise (and they both do so), but that doesn't account for all of the discrepancy. In fact there are 6 states that return Democratic majorities on Presidential votes, and over-all popular vote for House seats, yet return majority Republican House Representatives. One of these, Pennsylvania, in fact depended on Democratic votes in their State Congress to achieve the majority needed to confirm the gerrymandering. If you Google that topic, you will see the rationale given by those Democratic State Congressmen to be about as coherent as these Anti-Science Representatives quoted in the article. If ONLY those 6 states returned Representatives in line with their over-all popular vote, there would basically be a permanent US House Democratic majority. Not even all 6 of those states would be needed to switch in order to achieve that majority. Several of those states allow for citizen referendum, so there is no impediment to a popular referendum changing the representation/districting formula, yet that is not done. There is even the possibility to impose a nationwide change having consistent standards to avoid wasted votes, via Article V nationwide constitutional convention, whose requirements to convene have already been met, so such a Convention should go ahead to create Amendments which 3/4 of states then need to approve, by popular vote or their legislature. Yet that is not done. There are nutsos and science deniers all over the world. They are not the problem with the US' political system, the US' political system is the problem. So to blame this narrow sect of ignorants is absolving the larger body politic of it's responsibility for allowing such a system to persist. This system makes many votes simply not count in terms of final outcome, not to mention side-lining any parties outside the "2 parties of power". A system of Open-List Mixed Member Proportional Representation retains the link to local district which all members chosen because of their popularity in that district (either by plurality/majority, or as the highest level of support that party received), and can accomodate independent (non-party) local candidates and splitting support for parties at local and over-all levels (to avoid supporting a hated local candidate whose party over-all is attractive). The path is open to change that system, such a process is exactly allowed for in the US Constitution, and by using a national convention expressly called for the purpose, can side-line the 2-party representatives who are married to the existing system.

Get Govt Out of Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656551)

and you don't need to worry about this anymore.

In the mean time I would suggest that there is absolutely nobody in this country qualified to be on such a panel. Why? Because even if your specialty is X you can easily be snowed over by someone specializing in Y. You may think that 'oh that sounds about right' or 'hmm that sounds fishy' when in reality you do not have the knowledge in the field to tell butkus. Your learned opinion is quite likely to end up being no better or worse than .

Loyalty to their belief systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656577)

A member of my family "M" didn't believe in global warming, because it didn't fit in with his other beliefs. He said a few times, "I'm a conservative kind of guy." Since he was conservative, he couldn't believe in global warming. Not my idea of a rational argument. (I'm putting him in the past tense, because he's passed away.)

Of course, not only conservatives are irrational. Some liberals have made ridiculous arguments, also.

I'm just mentioning M's "reasoning" to explain why some voters don't want to believe in global warming. The voters want to be loyal to their belief system.

anti-science pols always Republican (4, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46656631)

I object to the false dichotomy presented by TFA and general media...

Sure, **absolutely** Congress does things that are anti-science...but that's not the end...**who votes for these anti-science policies**???

ITS ALWAYS REPUBLICANS

climate change denial? Republicans
creationism in schools? Republicans
defunding research? Republicans

there is a solution to this...don't vote for Republicans & call out their BS every time

Worse Yet (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 5 months ago | (#46656633)

One of the few people in Congress who actually knows something about science is retiring.

Rush Holt, we will miss you.

https://holt.house.gov/biograp... [house.gov]

Holdren isn't as literate as one might think (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46656649)

In the 1970's he co-authored a book with Paul R. Erhlich about how global cooling was going to cause this massive Malthusian catastrophe. http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/dr-holdrens-ice-age-tidal-wave/?_php=true&_type=blogs&apage=2&_r=0

"Science" as bandied around on Slashdot. (0)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#46656661)

I will have more respect for all the people who fling around the term 'Science' when more than a few of them even know WTF they are talking about. Start by reading Kuhn [wikipedia.org] and some of the other scholars of science. The process is complicated.

'Science: it's what scientists do, and we need to listen more to what the scientists say' is sheer ignorance. Shake that rattle and dance.

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