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Lamar Smith, Future Chairman For the House Committee On Science, Space, and Tech 292

Posted by Soulskill
from the politician-selected-for-job-in-politics dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Lamar Smith, a global warming skeptic, will become the new chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Someone who disagrees with the vast majority of scientists will be given partial jurisdiction over NASA, EPA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. When will candidates who are actually qualified to represent science or at a minimum show an interest in it be the representatives of science with regard to political decision-making?"
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Lamar Smith, Future Chairman For the House Committee On Science, Space, and Technology

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  • by bfmorgan (839462) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:33PM (#42122685)
    Please vote them in to office.
  • by systemidx (2708649) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:38PM (#42122779)
    Qualified individuals are too intelligent to run for office.
  • Skeptic is ok... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:38PM (#42122789) Homepage

    If he were merely a skeptic, that's ok; a skeptic is a person who's willing to look at the data and see what they say.

    However, far too many of the people who call themselves "skeptics" are in fact not skeptics at all, but global-warming deniers: they don't care what the data is, and aren't really interested in learning. They're not really skeptical, because they already have their conclusion, and are only interested in arguments that support it.

    To quote S. Fred Singer, "The deniers are giving us skeptics a bad name."

  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:47PM (#42122941)

    People like this are the reason that scientists need to be very careful to present their data in an unbiased fashion. The temptation to show "simple" or "clear" data that supports something they are sure is true needs to be resisted. Any evidence that the scientists are in any way biasing their data can be used politically to discredit the entire field.

  • Apparently.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dega704 (1454673) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:57PM (#42123093)
    It looks like the GOP doesn't think they have done a thorough enough job of convincing us that they have all either sold out or lost their freaking minds. Or both.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @05:59PM (#42123129)

    This is the house, where an insignificant little nowhere can get a ton of free crap by just electing the same person for 40 years straight thereby giving him enough seniority to gain influence, chair important committees and bring a ton of pork back to his district.

    Vote him out? It's not in the best interests of the few constituents he has. All his negatives are externalities that his constituents don't have to pay.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:05PM (#42123197)

    You can't disagree with facts. You can be ignorant of them, but you can't disagree as they are not matters of opinion. Sometimes there are not two sides, the earth is round, the sun is the center of the solar system, the earth is billions of years old.

    At least he is replacing the "lies from the pit of hell" moron.

  • by readin (838620) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:13PM (#42123315)

    If he were merely a skeptic, that's ok; a skeptic is a person who's willing to look at the data and see what they say.

    However, far too many of the people who call themselves "skeptics" are in fact not skeptics at all, but global-warming deniers: they don't care what the data is, and aren't really interested in learning.

    I'm an agnostic. I don't know if or how much global warming is occurring; and given the hyper-partisan rhetoric, name-calling, and various logical fallacies coming from both sides I don't think I'll know for a very long time.

    The term you use, "denier", is a perfect example and is in fact a Godwin. The term was well known for Holocaust denier and once it became appropriately stained people started using it to label skeptics of their pet ideas when they didn't want to have to actually convince anyone.

  • by jjo (62046) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:18PM (#42123377) Homepage

    The real reason for pushback against the global warmist 'consensus' is that it is frankly both scientific and political. It starts with observations of global climate, and ends up with the undeniable and unquestionable conclusion that First-World governments must do whatever it takes to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in their countries. The entire chain of reasoning from observation to required government policy has been so sanctified that any one who questions or doubts even the tiniest aspect of it is labeled a "denier", implying that they are just as bad or worse than those who deny the Holucaust.

    It's very puzzling that scientist's predictions of how an imperfectly-understood chaotic system will behave in the future, and recommendations for one particular policy approach to dealing with it, have achieved the inerrant status of Holy Writ, so that those who question any aspect of it must be burned at the stake.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:30PM (#42123553)
    I know SOPA is more relevant to slashdot, but I think climate change is a bigger concern here.
  • Re:Vast Majority? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:38PM (#42123643)

    Yeah, Mesopotamian creation myths showed a flat Earth. So what? They were operating with a very different belief system than modern empiricism, or even post Pythagorean logic. Is that what you want to make decisions with? Divine inspiration from Enki?

    That's the only way you are going to get to the idea of a flat Earth.

    FACT: Anyone who can do basic geometry can prove the Earth is not flat. Pythagoras knew it 2500 years ago.

    Likewise with global warming. It's a FACT that the Earth is getting warmer. Sea levels all over the world are going up. There is no possible explanation for it other than the average temperature is increasing unless you believe some magic sky daddy is creating water to trick us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Trends_in_global_average_absolute_sea_level,_1870-2008_(US_EPA).png [wikipedia.org]

    Now the data for anthropogenic global warming is slightly less compelling, but none the less it is compelling. If you don't want to accept it, fine. But I betcha that you are going to look like a complete boob some time in the future.

    Sorry, but conspiracy theories are complete horseshit. It's EXACTLY the same logical fallacy that led Republicans to believe they were going to win the election (left wing media controls the polls and they are manipulating the results).

    Let me guess. You thought Romney was going to win, didn't you?

  • by medcalf (68293) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:46PM (#42123743) Homepage
    You have to account, though, for the truth that not all things claimed to be facts, particularly in politicized subjects, are actually facts. For example, temperature measurements are facts, though their accuracy can be questioned. Global temperature, though, is not a fact: it is an extraction on facts (the temperature readings) filtered through assumptions and patches (like assuming that temperature changes smoothly and uniformly between places where temperatures are measured). On top of those extrapolations, people have layered conclusions, some of which are reasonable (which does not make them facts but inferences), some of which are not. But it's pretty clear that just arguing that AGW is a fact won't get you anywhere, because the totality of what is commonly meant by that term is not a fact or set of facts, though it does include some facts, even if it later turns out to have reached a correct conclusion. "Shut up" is rarely an effective argument.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:50PM (#42123799)

    I'm an agnostic. I don't know if or how much global warming is occurring; and given the hyper-partisan rhetoric, name-calling, and various logical fallacies coming from both sides I don't think I'll know for a very long time.

    So skip the partisans and see what qualified people have to say: scientists.

    The term you use, "denier", is a perfect example and is in fact a Godwin. The term was well known for Holocaust denier and once it became appropriately stained people started using it to label skeptics of their pet ideas when they didn't want to have to actually convince anyone.

    Bullshit. If someone denies a well established fact, they're a denier. The only common bond they have with people who deny other well established facts is that they reject facts established by mountains of evidence.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @06:52PM (#42123815)

    The candidate (Lamar Smith) is not there to represent science, so he doesn't really need to be qualified for that. He's not there to represent NASA, EPA, DOE, NSF, NOAA, and the USGS. He's there to represent the people who elected him, and more broadly all of the people of the US. Just playing devil's advocate here. Not everyone in the US agrees with all things science.

    "The people" elected him to represent their district. A political machine made him chair of the committee.

  • by readin (838620) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @07:47PM (#42124479)

    I'm an agnostic. I don't know if or how much global warming is occurring; and given the hyper-partisan rhetoric, name-calling, and various logical fallacies coming from both sides I don't think I'll know for a very long time.

    So skip the partisans and see what qualified people have to say: scientists.

    The problem is, I'm not a climate scientist or even a weather scientist. Nor do I work in a field closely related to them. Frankly I'm unqualified to survey the literature myself. Normally for something like this I would listen to what knowledgeable people say who have read the literature, but in this case knowledgeable people are divided. So my next approach would be to consider who is making the various arguments, what their tone is, whether they seem to be trying to honestly convince me, etc. However in this case both sides are pretty full of people who I don't trust for various reasons. Some because they have backing from corporations that stand to lose money if GW is addressed. Some because they have their own money sources if GW is addressed. Many because they've resorted to name-calling and insults instead of reasoned arguments. Case in point...

    The term you use, "denier", is a perfect example and is in fact a Godwin. The term was well known for Holocaust denier and once it became appropriately stained people started using it to label skeptics of their pet ideas when they didn't want to have to actually convince anyone.

    Bullshit. If someone denies a well established fact, they're a denier. The only common bond they have with people who deny other well established facts is that they reject facts established by mountains of evidence.

    So basically you're saying that what you believe to be true is a "well established fact" which frees you up to call anyone who disagrees with you a "denier" which, as I noted before, first gained notoriety as a term describing holocaust deniers. So is it true then that anyone who disagrees with you is the moral equivalent of a holocaust denier.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:02PM (#42124623) Homepage Journal

    "and various logical fallacies coming from both sides I don't think I'll know for a very long time. "
    or you could, you know, read the the actually climatologist are saying.
    Scientifically there is no debate. AGW is real. So you can stick you head in the sand becasue pundits blather about nonsense, but that's cowardly and short sighted.

  • Re:Vast Majority? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kqs (1038910) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:18PM (#42124765)

    "If a scientist, or a vast majority of scientists, say something is true, it is considered heresy to even dare to question it.".

    Heresy is an interesting concept. Maybe I've not been around the right people, but the only people I've seen to cry heresy are the anti-global-warming folks. Most of the pro folks tend to quote facts and studies, while the anti folks say things like "I've seen that weather changes, so therefore, though I've never studied it I am pretty sure that all of the people who *have* studied it are wrong." Now to me that sounds an awful lot like Copernicus being accused of heresy because he tried to use evidence to convince people of something they knew nothing about but desperately wanted to be wrong.

    You should question scientists. That is good. That is science. But if you walk up to someone who has spent their life studying something and accuse them of being wrong with no facts to back you up, you are not questioning. You are denying. And that's why nobody takes you seriously. It's not an question of heresy and orthodoxy, it's a question of making up your mind without going through that tedious fact-collecting step.

    They laughed at Einstein. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. And you, sir, are no Einstein.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @08:28PM (#42124883)

    The term you use, "denier", is a perfect example and is in fact a Godwin. The term was well known for Holocaust denier and once it became appropriately stained people started using it to label skeptics of their pet ideas when they didn't want to have to actually convince anyone.

    Bollocks, "denier" is perfectly apt for someone who refuses to look at facts that they disagree with.

    A sceptic will say, "What evidence do you have that you had breakfast this morning".
    A denier will say, "I don't believe you had breakfast this morning" stick their fingers in their ears and shout "LA LA LA LA I CANT HEAR YOU".

    You are right that denier is a term of ridicule, but these people bring the ridicule on themselves. If we didn't call them "deniers" they'd still be ridiculed all the same.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @09:14PM (#42125333) Journal

    In the link parent provides, Hall responds to the "ScienceInsider" interviewer with the phrase "I'm still waiting for some believable science...". Which is telling. A person tells you that a penny doubled each day for a week is $0.64, And for 2 weeks is $ 81.92, and for a month is $10,737,418.24, and he calls you a bald faced liar because its not believable. After the Challenger disaster, there were two groups of scientists at NASA. One who simply couldn't believe that the foam insulating tiles could impart enough energy to damage the wing of the space shuttle. The logic was that after you hit a Styrofoam cooler lid on the highway it explodes in a shower of beads and your cars is too strong to be bothered. The other group, the "Sliderule Engineers" simply said do the math. At the velocity this ship is traveling, the foam will impart over a ton and a half of force. So they build a mockup, built a model space shuttle wing, and fired a foam block at it with reentry velocity. It nearly tore the wing in half. Science doesn't care what you believe in. God maybe cares. Physics not so much. This is the profound stupidity of putting people in key decision making positions about the future of science in this country who ignore facts that don't mix well with their beliefs or vested interests. Sadly, their ignorance is paid for by American and nonAmericans alike everywhere.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Wednesday November 28, 2012 @10:36PM (#42125951) Journal

    People keep trying to isolate climate scientists, like there's this little fraternity of 20 guys all sitting at a pub in Scotland trying to figure out what they can pull over the worlds eyes. Here's the problem. The climate impacts things. Lots of things. Things all over the place. So when a scientist at NASA who's an expert on what keeps low earth satellites up in space tells you that there is less drag on satellites today, because the upper atmosphere is colder, the compliment to global warming in the lower atmosphere, he's being a climate scientist. And when the biologist tells you that temperatures in ocean water in the tropics is killing off coral around the world she's become a climate scientist. An when the agricultural botanist tells fruit farmers that they have to change up their fertilization straightedges because spring comes 4 weeks earlier than it did 20 years ago he's become a climate scientist. So when you say climate scientist today you in fact are talking about a body of scientists whose disciplines cover hundreds of difference scientific fields including meteorology, biology and botany, oceanography, paleontology, astrophysics, geology and chemistry. This doesn't even begin to talk about the huge subdivision of these sciences, and the tens of thousands of researchers involved. This issue has been investigated, validate and corroborated from so many different angles it is now one of the better understood processes on the planet today.

    Here's the crazy part. Remove the billions of dollars worth of FUD and noise being generated by the guys who just want to keep burning carbon, who pretty much own the world as we know it today, guys who really don't appreciate anyone telling them its time to change up, and you'll find a consensus among respected scientific sources that is pretty much comparable to the certainty reserved for evolution, a round earth and relativity. The only real controversy is that people want what people want when they want it, and this is damn inconvenient.

    If you want to know why the scientists are emphatic, and angry, and loud about this, imagine being in a passenger in a car being driven at high velocity towards a cliff while the driver is busy inspecting the condition of the visor. You might get a wee bit emphatic in suggesting he just drive instead. If he continued to ignore the approaching precipice you might even get a little testy. Our government is owned and operated on the behalf of men with power. Consider this in the same category as "9 or of 10 doctors smoke XXX Brand Cigarettes." anyone who thinks the entire scientific community is falsifying research to raise more research money must therefore assume all science it just made up, pulled out of some learned man's behind like to perverse magic trick to pay for puttering around laboratories. That would be lawyers and marketing men whispering in your ears. Stop listening to the lawyers and marketing men.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

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