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Evidence Free

Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is the second-highest ranking member of the House energy committee. This is a key committee evaluating the dangers of, and alternatives to, fossil fuels.

And yet, in a documentary about to be released by the BBC, Blackburn was asked what scientific evidence would persuade her that climate change was a threat. She replied “I don’t think you will see me being persuaded.” She also claimed that the earth had cooled in the last 13 years by a degree F, which is nonsense. Finally, when asked if she accepts the theory of evolution she said “No I do not.”

Upton Sinclair famously said “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Funny, I guess I thought Blackburn’s salary was coming from the American people, but I must be mistaken.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    The theory of evolution says that man will become extinct by his own stupidity as we are seeing in the last 100 years.

    Friday, September 25, 2015 at 4:38 am | Permalink
  2. Ralph wrote:

    Ho-hum, the usual stock answers we’ve come to expect from the religious right. My fav was Jim Inhofe bringing a snowball into the chamber last winter as his proof against global warming. My only regret is that someone from the logical left didn’t respond to that stunt by bringing in a burning branch from one of the wildfires raging in drought-stricken California. That he ever became Chairman of the Senate Environment Committee is a sad and disturbing sign of our dysfunctional, scientifically brain dead Congress.

    Bonus neuron: who said this about why he refutes Evolution? “If there is some force evolving to the maximum, why isn’t everything a human?” (Hint: it’s someone currently running for President, who many believe is really really smart.)

    While you’re thinking about the answer, recall the late great Carl Sagan, who said, “We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster.”

    If your answer to the above question was Ben Carson, give yourself a pat on the prefrontal cortex. But it’s not like he’s a brain surgeon or anything…oh wait, he is! It only goes to show that someone can be technically brilliant, even a surgeon, without being scientifically literate. If this guy didn’t flunk Bio101, his prof should have had his head examined, hopefully not by Ben Carson.

    Friday, September 25, 2015 at 6:59 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ben Carson just proves the maxim that you have to be stupid to run for the presidency. (Is Obama is the exception that proves the rule?)

    Unfortunately, science is littered with geniuses from one field who were later (publicly and loudly) stupid in another. Like Nobel prize winner William Shockley, who helped invent the transistor and create Silicon Valley, who despite being a brilliant physicist was also rather racist and became a loud advocate for eugenics. Other Nobel examples include Linus Pauling (megadoses of Vitamin C), Louis Ignarro (Herbalife), and Nikolaas Tinbergen (autism).

    Friday, September 25, 2015 at 9:48 am | Permalink
  4. Ralph wrote:

    IK – a couple personal anecdotes, if I may.

    As an undergrad, I once had the opportunity to briefly meet Shockley at a Nobel Conference held at Gustavus Aldolphus College in St. Peter, Minn. that I was fortunate to be invited to by one of my profs ( ; see the 1975 panel). One of the largest collection of big brains ever! Anyway, he seemed to be a soft-spoken and gentle man, as I could tell from our brief encounter, but the storm of controversy and public vitriol that preceded and accompanied him at every turn was palpable, even though he never raised the topic of eugenics himself during his visit. I don’t know if he ever recanted eugenics, but he obviously paid a great personal price for it, as the controversy followed him throughout his life and into the grave and has become an indelible footnote to his legacy. Opinions matter.

    Likewise, I heard Pauling lecture (SRO!) about Vitamin C in his later years when I was a grad student at Ohio State in the early ’80s. His assertions of its curative properties against many forms of cancer were as unshakable as they were eloquently and professionally expressed, even though his evidence was primarily anecdotal, had no clinical trials to support it and was roundly criticized by the medical establishment. He practiced what he preached too, and even after contracting the prostate cancer that eventually killed him at around age 90, he insisted it would have gotten to him much sooner without the homemade concoction he dosed himself intravenously with daily (concentrated aqueous Vit C buffered with, I think, sodium bicarbonate to physiologic pH). Arguably the greatest chemist this country ever produced, he was clearly out of his element in the field of medicine (“the inexact science”).

    Even within his own field, he was not infallible. Who is? He developed modern concepts of chemical bonding and is considered the “father of the hydrogen bond” (the non-covalent attraction between an ionizeable hydrogen and electronegative elements like oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur). Then, in the early ’50s, he proposed a seemingly logical and unassailable triple helix for the structure of DNA, based on a molecular model he carefully constructed from the evidence he had and which depicted three single strands of DNA held together by H-bonds. When Watson and Crick discovered DNA was actually the double helix we recognize today as the correct structure, Pauling was forced to defer, citing misleading data and lack of high quality x-ray diffraction images, even though he had ample opportunity to visit Franklin’s lab to inspect her high quality images, which provided them to Watson and Crick. Opportunity counts.

    The great physicist and mathematician, Isaac Newton, was also deep into alchemy and the occult, a side largely hidden from his contemporaries and the public. Even Einstein is seen today as mistaken when he said, referring to the random and seemingly chaotic qualities of quantum mechanics, “God does not play dice”. Apparently, He does.

    Anyway, my point with this long-winded post is that there’s no monopoly on stupid or misguided, as you said, and I have some personal experience meeting a few otherwise brilliant and revolutionary thinkers (not Newton, I ain’t THAT old!) who have sometimes fallen short, not only within their own field but more often when they run astray of their expertise. Understandable, the Universe is a very complicated place. The difference between science and religion (or opinion) though is its built-in, self-correcting mechanism that strives to, and generally does, get the right answer given enough time and the correct line of inquiry and experiments.

    So I can forgive Ben Carson’s distorted views on Evolution, it’s one man’s opinion and apparently it doesn’t comport with his religious views which take precedence. Fine, have a nice and spiritually fulfilling life. But for me, rejecting one of the fundamental tenets of modern science is a non-starter for any elected official, let alone POTUS. Besides, his more recent comments about Muslims being unsuitable for elected office, esp as president, is arguably un-American if not unconstitutional, and blatant religious prejudice to boot. But I guess that’s the legacy of 9/11 we’re trapped in now. Sadly, maybe the terrorists really have won. But I digress.

    Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  5. Just me wrote:

    Savant Syndrome?

    Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm | Permalink
  6. Iron Knee wrote:

    And I must constantly remind myself that politics is definitely *way* outside of my expertise. And yet I blather on. I guess I depend on people like you to keep me honest (eventually).

    Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  7. redjon wrote:

    Mustn’t SOMEBODY represent the deniers of science?

    The strange thing is that, they aren’t honest about it. Why not just say, “I do not believe in science.”

    Why not also start a Science Deniers Party? It wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm | Permalink