If you’re like me, when you hear that some American politician has said something denoting incredible ignorance or hostility toward science, you barely glance at the letter after their name. With few exceptions, it’s a fairly safe bet that it will be an “R.”
It’s difficult to assert that the GOP isn’t anti-science, when their presidential candidates are quick to reassure the voters that they reject the cornerstone of modern biology and embrace Creationism. However, if you were feeling generous, you could argue that nominees say a lot of crazy stuff to win their primaries and the votes of their base. You could also say that, just because a few fringe members of a party say something, that does not mean the party itself embraces such ideas. Sure some Republicans say some pretty insane things, but it’s not like the GOP leadership has these guys on the House Science Committee, right?
You know exactly where this is going…
Talking Points Memo has put together a profile of some of the brilliant minds that make up the current and former membership of the GOP’s House Science Committee. Perhaps the most well known of the committee’s (now former) members is Todd Akin, who gave us the phrase “legitimate rape” and said that you can’t get pregnant from it. (I suppose if you’re pregnant, it’s only because you really wanted it, eh?)
Perhaps he was an anomaly?
Let’s hear what fellow Science Committee member Phil Gingrey (R-GA), had to say about Akin’s comments:
I’ve delivered lots of babies, and I know about these things. It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble conceiving because of the woman not ovulating, ‘Just relax. Drink a glass of wine. And don’t be so tense and uptight because all that adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.’ So he was partially right wasn’t he?
For the record, no, he wasn’t. So, clearly, reproductive biology isn’t the strong suit of the committee. Perhaps more general biology will be better?
Say hello to current Science Committee member Paul Broun (R-GA):
“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.”
Rep. Broun has been selected to lead the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, which will look into climate change. Broun’s thoughts on climate change?
Rep Broun will be in good company on his subcommittee. His vice-chairman will be one Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) who has an ingenious solution to climate change: cut down the rainforests!
The country — and, in fact, the entire world — faces serious challenges. Science cannot fix them all, but it is an essential piece to achieving a future that is sustainable. Scientists the world over work tirelessly to improve our understanding of the universe and contribute to the betterment of our species. But that work cannot reach its full potential if countries have leaders who consider Science to be unimportant — or worse, an enemy of their religious beliefs or economic dogmas.
This will not change until voters start treating anti-science positions as what they really should be: deal-breakers.