From Our Perspective: Science leaders don’t know science

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Photo from Creative Commons.

The government has many departments that handle all walks of life within its power.  The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has jurisdiction over the Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation and the famous NASA. Today we look at Republican Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the current head of the committee. Smith is also known as creator of the very unpopular Stop Online Piracy Act, and was in the news a few months ago for basically denying global warming.

Smith admits to having studied some science in college, but most of his science credentials come straight from Congress. This wouldn’t be an issue if it was just his belief and he kept himself well informed, but many of his decisions have no scientific or logical basis. Since he took his position in 2011, he has voted down a lot of important matters such as the EPA regulating greenhouse gases, raising fuel efficiency standards, incentives for energy production, and tax credits for renewable energy.

Smith’s committee members are not better off as they are horribly misinformed about what our expectations for the Committee on Science, Space and Technology should be. This can be seen when the committee started the whole “legitimate rape” issue during Mitt Romney’s campaign, during which members of the committee claimed the female body is able to shut down rapists sperm during rape, making it impossible for them to have the rapist’s child.

The person who shed the most light on this issue was a Science Committee member named Todd Akin who said during an interview on Fox News, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors pregnancy from rape is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” This was mostly used as an attempt for some pro-life supporters to demean the act of abortion, even in cases of rape.

The craziness continues to the area of Georgia Rep. Paul Broun who is also on the committee. He said, “All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that are lies straight from the pit of hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”

We have no problem with his right to believe what he chooses, but it’s outrageous that we have men who don’t believe or understand modern science inside one of the most important scientific positions in the world. These committee members are producing bills, controlling tax allocations, and voting on the biggest issues in the scientific community. We think the issue for all this is that most — if not all — government members only have law degrees.  Our departments like science, agriculture, education, health, corrections, resources and transportation have little or no members trained or experienced in that field.