Trump and Pence on Science

This is timely information. The Washington Post has an article titled: Trump and Pence on science, in their own words, and they have a comments feature. Here are some excerpts from the news article, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

In the hours after the election of Donald Trump, Michael Lubell, director of public affairs for the American Physical Society in Washington, told the journal Nature that Trump will be “the first anti-science president we have ever had.”

Whether that characterization is fair won’t be clear until Trump actually takes office. But Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence do not have a great track record. In the course of their careers and this campaign, they have made several false claims about science, eliding complexity and sometimes outright rejecting the conclusions of the vast majority of researchers. Often, they have repeated dangerous misconceptions about science, such as the nonexistent link between vaccines and autism, which could make it harder for researchers to communicate the truth.

We suspect that over the course of their careers, most politicians have said stupid things that reveal their scientific ignorance. Oh wait — the journalists recognize this. They say:

Trump and Pence are far from the only candidates to be wrong about science. But they are the ones who will enter the Oval Office in three months. So, in their own words, here are eight cases in which they have gotten science wrong — with an explanation of what the science actually says. Starting with Trump:

Okay, here it comes:

“I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change.” — Trump in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, Sept. 21, 2015

“Well, I think the climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money.” — interview on Fox and Friends, Jan. 18, 2016

“We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement.” — speech in Bismarck, N.D., May 26, 2016

Then they quote him saying something silly about vaccines and autism. Skipping that, and something about Ebola, and something else about wind farms, they give us this quote about the ozone layer:

“You know, you’re not allowed to use hair spray anymore because if affects the ozone. You know that, right? … I said, ‘Wait a minute — so if I take hair spray and if I spray it in my apartment, which is all sealed, you’re telling me that affects the ozone layer?’ ‘Yes.’ I say, no way, folks. Now way. That’s like a lot of the rules and regulations you people have in the mines, right? It’s the same kind of stuff.” — speech in Charleston, W.Va., May 5, 2016

We won’t panic over that. Then they quote a Tweet or something where he says:

Fracking poses ZERO health risks. In fact, it increases our national security by making us energy independent.

We’re not knowledgeable about fracking, so although we’re aware that it’s a big issue with environmentalists, we have no opinion. As with everything else, we assume Trump will get some expert advice before proposing any legislation. In other words, we think the country will survive.

Although the Washington Post probably dumped everything they could find into their article, that’s all they have from Trump, and there’s no hint that he would propose something crazy, like shutting down the space program.

The rest of the article is some creationist quotes from Vice President-elect Mike Pence. After one quote we already mentioned in an earlier post — see Mike Pence: Creationist? — they give us this:

“Charles Darwin never thought of evolution as anything other than a theory. He hoped that someday it would be proven by the fossil record but did not live to see that, nor have we … And now that we have recognized evolution as a theory, I would simply and humbly ask, can we teach it as such and can we also consider teaching other theories of the origin of species?” — speaking before Congress, July 11, 2002

Yeah, Pence is a hard-core creationist. Fortunately, it’s not an issue for the federal government, although it’s certainly disturbing to have someone like that so close to the Presidency. But there have probably been others before him, so we’re not going to lose any sleep over it.

Anyway, there you have it. Never let it be said that your Curmudgeon isn’t fair and balanced. Fortunately, the President isn’t the nation’s Scientist-in-Chief.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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80 responses to “Trump and Pence on Science

  1. I think you’re being Polyanna here — either deliberately or through some subconscious denialism that the politicians for whom I assume you voted are not in fact outright antiscience in ways that will damage all of us.

    Trump’s ridiculing of climate science is widespread — he’s on record as saying that climate change is nothing but a Chinese hoax. (I’m surprised the WoPo didn’t mention this. I must go and read the article, which is probably sitting in my inbox — been out all day doing a radio interview largely about how the incoming Admonistration is the most anti-science there has ever been. It seems WaPo did not in fact “dump[] everything they could find into their article.”) Four years of retrograde action on climate change, or just straightforward inactivity, by the US is probably just about enough to bring about some sort of civilizational collapse a few decades hence, when the effects manifest themselves. Free enterprise and all the other values you choose to describe as enlightenment ones will almost certainly go down the tubes during that collapse.

    You might want to read the book Climate Wars by military historian Gwynne Dyer to learn just one of the factors pointing toward this collapse.

    We’re not knowledgeable about fracking

    But I cannot believe you know so little about fracking that you’re unaware that it coaxes yet more fossil fuels out of the ground, and that the burning of fossil fuels exacerbates climate change.

    Incidentally, the election of Trump is widely regarded as giving a huge boost to the further use of coal as a fuel. In terms of climate change and air pollution, coal is the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels.

    Or are you “not knowledgeable” about this too?

    Trump is on record as saying that vaccines likely are responsible for autism. You dismiss this as “something silly” that he said. Au contraire, his statement is likely to lead to an even more widely spread rejection of vaccines for their kids by stupid people. And that in turn will lead to many more deaths, mainly of children and the elderly, that could have been avoided through universal or near-universal vaccination. In light of Trump’s support for the antivaxxers, it’s not at all unlikely that we’ll see the return of polio to this country, perhaps diphtheria, conceivably be even smallpox.

    But, hey, it’s just “something silly.” Nothing to see here. Pass on by.

    So Mike Pence is a flaming creationist who wants creationism introduced to public-school science classes. And all of a sudden, on a site that has for years taunted people like the Discoveroids and the AIG about precisely this, it, oopsy poopsy, doesn’t matter?

    Pence, by the way, also supports the pseudoscience of gay “re-education” — that sexuality is a free choice. He opposes the freedom of women to control their own bodies (as does Trump, who wants to make having an abortion a criminal offense).

    Never let it be said that your Curmudgeon isn’t fair and balanced.

    Well, I do say it. Had Ken Ham or any of the Discoveroids said any of the things you’ve quoted (and/or the ones you’ve omitted) you’d have — quite rightly — been all over them, mocking them in your usual witty style.

    How come Trump and Pence get a free pass?

  2. Some fracking information for you: http://www.skepticink.com/smilodonsretreat/2015/05/30/fracking-good-or-bad/

    And it is a huge issue, because they (with a GOP congress) can gut science funding, education funding, NASA, the EPA, the DoE and the other DoE too.

  3. Pence is always so sincere and earnest and humble when he spouts absolute nonsense.

  4. realthog says: “But I cannot believe you know so little about fracking that you’re unaware that it coaxes yet more fossil fuels out of the ground, and that the burning of fossil fuels exacerbates climate change.”

    Yes, I’m aware of that. And we’ll be burning that stuff until a substitute is found. So the question is where will we get it? I’d prefer to get it here, rather than spending the money in the Middle East.

  5. “there’s no hint that he would propose something crazy”
    This is crazy.

    Here’s some more:

    http://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/11/10/npr-trump-100-days

    “I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.”
    You live in Florida, don’t you, dear SC? Maybe it’s time to find yourself some higher ground.

    http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/

  6. mnb0 says: “You live in Florida, don’t you, dear SC? Maybe it’s time to find yourself some higher ground.”

    Maybe, but half the state gets its power from the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station. If the rest of the country did the same, we’d be okay.

  7. Yes, I’m aware of that. And we’ll be burning that stuff until a substitute is found.

    Solar panels? Wind farms? Pretending that oil imports is the only alternative is bonkers.

  8. realthog, unlike the blog, my car doesn’t run on wind power.

  9. Maybe, but half the state gets its power from the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station. If the rest of the country did the same, we’d be okay.

    I’m okay with nuclear power, although there are logistical difficulties (it’s expensive, it currently takes forever to build, etc.), but I don’t think that’s the point really. Half of the state getting its power from nukes simply isn’t enough to avert the problem. This is a crisis we’re facing. Pretending otherwise is just straightforward denialism.

  10. realthog, unlike the blog, my car doesn’t run on wind power.

    What a bizarre remark. The car you decide to drive could certainly run on electricity: it’s your choice that it doesn’t. The source of that electricity is irrelevant in the sense of its effect on your car: could be coal (kills lotsa people, huzza for free enterprise!) or could be renewable. It’s a bit depressing that someone who supposedly supports science is so determined to do otherwise.

  11. realthog says: “It’s a bit depressing that someone who supposedly supports science is so determined to do otherwise.”

    I’ve said before that when an affordable substitute source of power is available — as with nuclear generated electric power — people will use it. In France, for example, about 75% of their electricity comes from nuclear power plants. But the government — and environmentalists — have to allow it.

  12. I’ve said before that when an affordable substitute source of power is available — as with nuclear generated electric power

    What bollox, to be honest. Renewables have become very affordable You can only think otherwise if you’ve been listening to the BS promoted by the power companies. Don’t you think that, as a supposed supporter of the scientific method, you ought to check out a few of the evidences?

    I’m sorry. I’m sure you and I could have great fun in a bar somewhere. But, just in the same way that I don’t let myself off the hook when I find my own preconceptions are governing my judgements, I feel others ought to apply the same standards.

    The Trump/Pence platform is the most antiscience platform in US history. If you have an argument against that, please state it.

  13. The problem with nuclear power isn’t that the government and environmentalists “won’t allow it.” The government does allow it, and environmentalists are in no position to forbid it. Nor is it a matter of affordability, though nuclear isn’t as cheap relative to other energy sources as the industry claims.

    No, the problems are those of environment (where do we put the waste? what about major accidents? etc.) and security (how do we keep terrorists from blowing up a nuclear plant and releasing huge quantities of radioisotopes into the atmosphere, soil and water table, or making off with high-level nuclear waste they can turn into a dirty bomb or fissionable material they can use to build a nuclear bomb?)–problems for which there are as yet no satisfactory solutions.

    Getting back to the usual subject of this blog, the problem with Mike Pence is that he’s a complete fundamentalist nutbar and ignoramus who will be a heartbeat away from the nuclear launch codes. He even goes so far as to echo the hoary old “just a theory” rhetoric creationists have been using for decades.

  14. How can you of all people defend anyone who denies evidence? Do melting glaciers and rising sea levels ring any bells? Do you also shrug off his denial of Obama’s birth certificate?

    Just knowing you support that jerk is going to taint my usual enjoyment of your site.

  15. I am a long time lurker here. Sadly, If the mendacity on your part represented by this post is your reaction to the generational and potentially global catastrophe represented by the election of this, the most anti- Enlightenment leader in the history of our nation, then I can no longer credit your avowed dedication to Enlightenment principles and must conclude that your political preferences trump your principles and that you, sir, are a hypocrite.

  16. What fun! First of all, Trump is not so much anti-science as he is a science illiterate. He’s never studied science, or anything else so far as I can tell, and he’s definitely not interested in science, or anything else so far as I can tell (unless he can grab it.) So, Trump’s opinions on science are just that – fact free opinions.

    Pence, on the other hand, is a religious zealot. Think old Hambo with a real vicious mean streak and you’ve got Pence. Pence is more dangerous because he hears voices and believes he has been chosen, etc, etc.

    The same goes for Cruz, Lamar Smith and a whole bunch of Republican theocrats. If anybody knows of a Democrat theocrat, let me know. By all odds there should be a few out there.

    Now, regarding fracking. The industry has been doing this for decades. Nothing new here. What has changed is the scale of the operation with the opening of the Eagle Ford Basin and other places. But, what is causing havoc right now is injecting millions of gallons of waste water from the process into seismically active areas. Oklahoma has seen the annual number of earthquakes go from something like five to 500 since 1999. It’s a big problem that could be addressed by regulation. But, guess what, the big oil and gas producers have successfully lobbied to prevent that. Groundwater contamination comes from leaking wells (200′ level) while wastewater is injected well below the aquifers (5000′ or more).

  17. Global warming? Ask Miami about “sunny day flooding,” raising streets, seawalls and pumps. You don’t have to drown a building, just flood the lobby by two inches.

  18. Our dear SC is impressed by logic:

    “If the rest of the country did the same, we’d be okay.”
    You should not try to convince me but the guy you voted into the White House.

  19. And perhaps show that guy this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/04/science/global-warming-increases-nuisance-flooding.html

    The point remains: Trump on climate is as bat s**t crazy as Ol’ Hambo on biology.

  20. docbill1351 notes:

    Trump is not so much anti-science as he is a science illiterate.

    Yep—and that is doubtless part of his appeal to many in America, a country with a deeply-rooted culture of anti-intellectualism (see Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-intellectualism in American Life for a still-incisive analysis of the roots in American hyper-religiosity etc.). Trump’s electoral success is just a reversion to the mean (in every sense of ‘mean’); the question now is, will he continue to pander to that unfortunate legacy? (Hint: if he names Carson as the new Secretary for Education, the answer is ‘yes’).

    Sure, we have a smattering of Creationists in Europe—there are lunatic fringes on the left and right the world over—but the USA takes the prize among developed nations for such deeply entrenched anti-intellectualism, and for its embodiment in such a powerful lobby. Which at first take seems ironic, given the excellence of so much of American academia and the incredible count of American winners of Nobel science prizes, contributions to scientific knowledge, innovation &c &c. But I suspect many Americans see no contradiction in embracing ‘technology’ as a positive good (it gives us lots of cool toys) and ‘science’ as distinctly suspect (it’s what eggheads do to undermine the Eternal TRVTH of scripture). It’s the same phoney distinction the Creationists try to make between ‘observational’ and ‘historical’ science. It would be interesting to test my suspicion here by polling a representative sample of Americans about whom they most highly regard: Edison or Einstein?

    I will be more interested in the period ahead to see how genuinely rational conservatives (such as our Curmudgeon, for whom my appreciation and respect are undented) deal with a President Trump whose programme will actually involve massive government intervention in the economy via large infrastructure spending (with bipartisan support), trade protectionism, and whatever his unspecified ‘replacement’ for PPACA turns out to be. My guess is: Trump will emerge as the Republican William Jennings Bryan.

    Or very possibly worse. It would seem a large number of Trump’s voters are not only looking to government to solve all ills, but believe that requires a ‘strong man’ who can end ‘the gridlock in Washington‘ and thereby ‘get things done’ (like making the trains run on time, perhaps?). There are indeed strong parallels,not only with the 1930’s, but also with our Brexit referendum, in which a small majority voted for ‘change’ without any agreement on what that ‘change’ should be: a vote to depart with no clue as to the destination, or the consequences. In such cases, deep disillusionment is the only guaranteed outcome.

    One would also hope that the Democrats are able to demonstrate what it is to form a Loyal Opposition rather than Knee-Jerk Obstructionists, something the GOP singularly failed to do over the past 8 years. But my hopes for either party are passing slim, I must confess.

  21. Although there is a wealth of post-election analysis around on the composition of Trump and Clinton voters (by age, religion, gender, location &c.) I haven’t been able to find anywhere the breakdown I would most like to see, viz.:

    What are the percentages of those who voted against Hillary Clinton because they believe

    [A] Hillary is a Communist who hates America, or
    [B] Hillary is a Crony Capitalist, bloated with filthy lucre from Goldman-Sachs, and thereby part of the American Establishment, or
    [C] Hillary is both [A] and [B]

  22. I’m surprised that this is necessary, but I’ll have to make a brief statement of my position in this matter. First, I’ve said a few times in earlier posts that of the 17 who sought the Republican nomination, Trump was far from being my favorite candidate (I liked Jeb Bush, but that hardly matters now.) So if you have gripes about Trump (and I certainly do), then you should at least be aware that this is not the blog of a Trump apologist.

    My minimal remarks in the main body of this post were to the effect that I think we’ll survive a Trump presidency. By that I mean that his ignorance of science isn’t the product of insanity — as it is with professional creationists — and he’s likely to be advised by knowledgeable people. (I wouldn’t say any of that about Pence,)

  23. There are many who believe that Trump will not enjoy the WORK of being president to the extent that he will leave those dreary elements that require learning and critical thinking (such as scientific or economic policy making) to his Vice President. Who here does not remember “President” Dick Cheney?

  24. Once again I’m one of the few who feels your pain, and not just in the Clintonian sense. People on all sides will say I wasted by vote, but I could not vote for either front-runner, So I wrote in Jon Huntsman, who in 2011, after admitting acceptance evolution (and making Rick Perry look like a fool to millions), said “The minute that the Republican Party becomes… the anti-science party, we have a huge problem.” Unfortunately it has been for decades, and is only getting worse, as voters keep getting more needy, unreasonable, and paranoid.

  25. skmarshall: There are many who believe that Trump will not enjoy the WORK of being president…

    I said that even before I read this. He likes to win, but hates to serve, which he will be required to do. For nearly all of his 70 years he has been nothing but a salesman.

  26. skmarshall – Yes, that is the essence of the problem. An empty vessel delegating to theocrats and authoritarians.

  27. Further to SC’s observation, of the 17 R-candidates I found Trump to be the least qualified from an intellectual, knowledge, experience and aptitude point of view, but the least objectionable from a theocratic authoritarian point of view. Cruz was my worst of all possible candidates – a genuine sociopath.

    I never thought Trump had a chance because he was and he demonstrated and it was manifested totally unprepared, unqualified and incapable of doing the job of President. Bigly.

    From the get go I said that the election was the ‘Mocrats to lose if they didn’t get out the vote and a big Thank You Very Much to them for rising to my expectations! The arrogance of the DNC in its inability to get Hillary out of the email and foundation swamp drove me nuts. (nuttier) They simply blew off large parts of the country. Grrrr.

    Trump realizes he is well and truly [edited out] now. The President’s job is a lot of work and Trump hasn’t worked a day in his life. He’s never had to know stuff, make life or death decisions, or fill the role of servant leader. He may have just realized after meeting with Obama yesterday that President isn’t Boss.

    My prediction is that the Trump administration will blame all of its failures on Obama for as long as they can, and for as long as news sources allow him to. Then, when the going gets really rough he’ll fake medical problems and pull a Palin. I give him two years before he slinks off to “recover” leaving us with Cruz Lite – Mike Pence. Dog help us!

  28. docbill1351 says: “The President’s job is a lot of work and Trump hasn’t worked a day in his life. He’s never had to know stuff, make life or death decisions, or fill the role of servant leader.”

    It may not be that bad. He does know how to build buildings — which is more than the usual politician knows. And he has contributed to both parties when it was necessary for him to do so, which means he knows how the game is played. Also, he’s not an idiot, so he has the potential to follow good advice — if he selects good advisors — something he should know how to do. So he has the potential to rise above the silly things he’s said. We’ll see what he does with people like Ben Carson. If he selects him to be Secretary of Education or Surgeon General, it won’t be a good move at all.

  29. @SC
    Also, he’s not an idiot

    You lost me there.

  30. Does he know how to build buildings?

  31. Probably, he only knows how to design buildings. YUGE buildings, at that…

  32. Waitwhat. Am I reading this right and SC’s from Florida and doesn’t think that there’s a priceworthy alternative to fossil fuels? In Florida, the state that just tried to pass a law blocking people with solar panels on their property from being able to make too much money from the power that they put back into the system?

    I frankly don’t know what to say about that. I thought Ken Ham never having seen an example of evolution and being from Australia was an act of compartmentalization, but this?

  33. “his ignorance of science isn’t the product of insanity — as it is with professional creationists”
    No, but that doesn’t make Trump’s plans regarding climate not any less anti-scientific and any less bats**t crazy.
    And that’s what you’re blogpost is about.

    As for your hope as formulated by

    “advised by knowledgeable people”
    regarding climate the evidence thus far, in the form of his 100 days plan and the people he appointed, points in exactly the opposite direction.
    Enthusiastic of not, you still voted for him. Your lack of enthusiasm doesn’t do anything to decrease the antiscientific craziness either.

    “Also, he’s not an idiot, so he has the potential to follow good advice.”
    Non-sequitur. Indeed he’s far from an idiot. The problem is that he doesn’t give a damn except for one thing: his image as a winner and a fixer.

  34. On the climate-change front, here’s a good summary of what the Trump presidency means: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/11/trump-presidency-a-disaster-for-the-planet-climate-change

    As for not voting for the antiscience, here’s a good essay by John Scalzi about people who didn’t vote for the racism: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2016/11/10/the-cinemax-theory-of-racism/

  35. @Megalonyx
    This is an honest question. I don’t know the answer. I don’t think it makes any difference, BTW, but does he know how to design buildings?

  36. realthog, as a friend put it to me, you can’t order the large fries and cheeseburger with a side of getting punched in the face and then complain when your jaw’s left hurting.

  37. So you think he’ll seek out the advice of someone who will tell him he’s wrong about climate change? Who would be a “good advisor” regarding environmental issues? Somebody from Big Oil? What makes you think he will ever make a decision that prioritizes science and the environment over business?

  38. @dweller42
    That’s actually a better analogy than Scalzi’s. Many thanks.

  39. Trump doesn’t know how to build buildings! He looks at pictures. He does nit select good advisors and he doesn’t take advice. He mocked them, remember? People keep believing there’s a pony in this manure pile, but there isn’t. There is no “other ” Trump.

  40. There’s an article in New Scientist that may calm some of you down: Here’s how Trump’s presidency could be good news for science.

  41. For those who value science, there is little consolation in seeing Donald Trump occupy the White House. But New Scientist has scouted around, and found a few areas where things might continue as usual or even improve: space exploration, infrastructure, and certain kinds of drugs. But all of those come with big caveats.

    Could be good news for a few corners of science, but with colossal reservations in each instance. They’re clutching at straws.

    And one of the reservations is that climate research is going to be hacked.

  42. Trump has promised to lift the ban on importing drugs.
    ?!

  43. In the first place, my dear SC, I wasn’t that surprised when I read the news Wednesday morning. Granted, I had expected Clinton to win with a small margin, but always thought a Trump win totally possible. So I had months to psychologically prepare and hence don’t need to calm down, because I already am.
    In the second place your blogpost was about Trump’s crazy antiscientific attitude or the lack thereof. Climate change – not exactly an unimportant topic given the consequences – was not mentioned in it; neither it is in the New Science article.
    Your rebuttal is like excusing Ol’ Hambo’s Ark because of the technology involved building it.
    Btw if Why Evolution is True is to be believed (I haven’t checked it) quite a few crazy creationists get important positions in the Trump administration, including Ben Carson and Sarah Palin. Craziness appoints craziness, so it seems. Craziness you voted into the White House, as me being a mean Dutchie will not cease to remind you until you admit it.
    If alone because it’s fun.

  44. mnb0 says: “Btw if Why Evolution is True is to be believed (I haven’t checked it) quite a few crazy creationists get important positions in the Trump administration, including Ben Carson and Sarah Palin. Craziness appoints craziness, so it seems.”

    It’s curious, but I haven’t seen any rejoicing at the usual creationist websites. They never regarded Trump as their man, and that’s instructive. All the grieving is from science advocates, who fear the worst — mostly regarding climate change. We’ll have to see what happens.

  45. Ben Carson being floated as Secretary of Education – now that’s kinda scary!!

  46. Your argument seems to be “we can’t know for sure what he’ll do therefore he might surprise us by going against everything he’s said so far.” Sorry, I don’t see a single thing he’s said or done to give such slim hope. He did flip flop on the Obama birther issue but does anything think he really meant it? He never said what finally convinced him.

  47. “I’ve said before that when an affordable substitute source of power is available — as with nuclear generated electric power — people will use it.”

    Not just power but goods in general. What makes all these Trump supporters who shop at Walmart think people are willing to pay more to make stuff here instead of in China and Mexico?

  48. “we assume Trump will get some expert advice before proposing any legislation.”
    Just like Ken Ham got expert advice from Ray Comfort regarding his Ark?

  49. James Bolton Theuer

    Trump&Pence are a motherlode of rabid science denial. The values that I’ve seen displayed on your blog for the past eight years are about as similar to the populist nativist protectionist science-denialist BS-dam-breach reality of Trump as circumspection and knowledge are to Kent Hovind’s personality traits. I think that what is disturbing to realize here is that the Sensuous Curmudgeon would rationalize Dinosaur Adventure Land, The Hovind Theory, Creation Science Evangelism, incomplete and fundamentally pathetic doctoral dissertations, and tax fraud if Hovind were on the Republican ticket. MAGA you cucks. Trump dindu nuffin. Did I get that one right? whatever.

  50. @Douglas E
    “Ben Carson being floated as Secretary of Education – now that’s kinda scary!!”
    True, but if republicans get their way as they’ve said all along, the Dept of Education will be short lived.

  51. Slightly off topic but relates to Pence’s thinking (or lack thereof). He signed an IN law a few years ago making it a crime to lie on an application for marriage. That has since been upgraded to a class 6 felony w/18 mos in jail and a $10K fine. Of course it’s intended to stop same sex marriages. What the problem for gays is, the marriage application form only allows two fields, one for the name of one man and the other for one woman, nothing else is acceptable. He’s a wacko fundamentalist to be sure. His thinking regarding science follows the same line.

  52. Hey, golly, yes, that is off-topic. Our host voted for this loon Pence.

  53. On Trump’s science denial: Trump apparently denies anything that would get in the way of profits for industry, and this is avowedly and certainly the case with anything that smacks of protecting the environment or minimising global warming. On the other hand, he has no particular beef against evolution, being that his only religion is Trumpery. (Bunyan would have had a field day with that one.)

    On his getting elected: The crucial datum, as I understand it, is not the number of people who voted for Trump, it’s the number of people who didn’t vote for Clinton. Trump’s core support group, middle and working class white men, turned out, plus minorities of women and even from other groups; and that was enough to get him through in the face of the disenchantment of the electorate as a whole with Clinton’s connections, background, tone, and silence on addressing concerns like de-industrialisation, globalism, foreign wars, and taxation.

    There’s a whole lot of rage out there in the Trump demographic. Happened in Britain over Brexit, too. A bad idea in both cases, no doubt. But still it happened, and now the political classes, having indulged themselves in the illusion that it will go away if they ignore it, are going to have to address the cause.

  54. Holding The Line In Florida

    Myron Ebell at the EPA? So says The NY Times. If so, then Trump is right on his “Science Ignorance” track. Big Coal in charge of the EPA! Wonderful

  55. And it’s being reported here that Kris Kobach has been offered a role in Trump’s transition team–though I can’t find confirmation that the offer has really been made, leave alone accepted.

    But if this is indeed true: Your papers, pleeze, schweinhund!

  56. In retrospect, what I should have done after the election is shut down the blog for a day or two, the way universities are calling off classes. Instead, I unintentionally put salt in your wounds. But you should have anticipated my view of things, because nothing has changed since I posted Creationism or Socialism: Which is Dumber?

    Anyway, if you have more ranting to do about the election, please keep it here, in the comments to this post. The blog will resume its usual jolly persona as soon as I can locate some good stuff to post about.

  57. Did you see socialism at issue in this election?

  58. TomS: Does he know how to build buildings?

    As you know, he only knows how to sell buildings. Not only can’t he (physically) build them, he’s no better a designer than architect wannabe George Costanza (aka Art Vandelay). Which reminds me of something I thought of over 15 years ago. One of the reasons that the anti-evolution scam is called intelligent design rather than intelligent construction, is that, in recent decades the person sitting behind a desk designing things is more “glorified” than the one getting his hands dirty. Ironically, even to those who go get their hands dirty for a living. This election may be a turning point, especially when blue collar workers falling for Trump’s sales pitches are disappointed when he fails to deliver.

  59. SC, this is the best place to hang out for intelligent discussion. I know, get a life, right? But, srsly, take my wife …

    As the son of a high-rise architect and having worked summers in high-rise construction (AFL/CIO Labor Union member) I have no idea how to design or build a building. I just did what I was told.

    However, when I built my house (<— see what I did there) I hired an architect, construction supervisor, plumbers, HVAC installers, framers, roofers, trim carpenters, painters who, under the direction of the supervisor who was able to read blueprints produced by the architect, got the place built. Only if I took credit for all their work could I say, "I built that house." I had very little to do with it other than pay the bills.

  60. docbill1351 said: “I had very little to do with it [building my house] other than pay the bills.”

    Did you not describe to the architect what you wanted? And then approve the plans? And the budget? And observe the progress? And pay only those bills that were appropriate to the work? And approve the final product? Or did you tell the architect to design whatever he wanted, and then agree to pay whatever bills came to you, regardless of budget, and accept the result, whatever it was, and regardless of how long it took?

  61. To segue to the “controversy” over evolution, I imagine that the gentlemen of the 18th century had no idea of the ways of making watches, and just assigned their appearance to the work of an artisan, and thought that that explanation is all that a gentleman needed to know.

  62. Already three days without news about the ‘Controversy’? I’m getting worried.

  63. Patience, mnb0. Hambo’s website is boring. The Discoveroids are doing almost nothing but quote-mining a conference in England, and there’s nothing else going on out there. But as I mentioned, they’re not rejoicing over the US election, so that’s a bit of good news.

  64. Our Curmudgeon muses:

    what I should have done after the election is shut down the blog for a day or two

    Good heavens, no! That would have been taking all the political froth far, far too seriously! Thank you for keeping the lights on at this excellent blog.

  65. Why not a Free Fire Zone?
    I have just finished Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom Of Speech” and have some opinions. Wolfe feels free to attack the personalities of the evolutionists and linguists as a way of debunking their theories. So I feel free to opine that his theory of the origin of language is silly: People designed language as a memory device. That is such an obvious explanation that it hardly needs support. How can you count to ten without using language?
    My uninformed question is what memory function did the first designer of language feel the need for to coin the word “mother”? Who was in the habit of forgetting who that person was, and was helped by pronouncing that combination of sounds?

  66. I read your 6 year old post https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/creationism-or-socialism-which-is-dumber/

    You want maximum freedom and minimum regulation. You also know global warming is real and that businesses must reduce their pollution to control it. Surely you see the conflict: profit vs. cost to reduce global warming. Surely you know of businesses that cheat or lie about their emissions or environmental impact, e.g., Exxon. My question to you is at what point does your support for clean air (achieved through regulation) outweigh your support for free enterprise (Trump’s deregulation)?

    FWIW I think the root problem is overpopulation. Projected 2050 world population is 10 billion. I doubt the planet can sustain the energy needs unless we switch from fossil fuels to solar. It’s short-sighted to rely on coal and oil for jobs and energy.

    I read this Isaac Asimov interview years ago and his answer stuck with me:

    [In response to this question by Bill Moyers in 1988: What do you see happening to the idea of dignity to human species if this population growth continues at its present rate?] “It’s going to destroy it all. I use what I call my bathroom metaphor. If two people live in an apartment, and there are two bathrooms, then both have what I call freedom of the bathroom, go to the bathroom any time you want, and stay as long as you want to for whatever you need. And this to my way is ideal. And everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up, you have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, aren’t you through yet, and so on. And in the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, but it disappears. It doesn’t matter if someone dies.”

  67. Wow — a few days have gone by, and I’m jumping in here late. I haven’t had time to read all 68+ comments on this post, so if I’m repeating what’s already been written, I apologize.

    That said, let me say a few things about energy that need saying. First off, I have no direct interest in any energy company, so I’m not trying to slant things here at all.

    It’s true that cars (and trucks) can be electric, but not planes, so we will still be using hydrocarbons for transportation for a while. And if much of our electricity is generated by burning coal, electric cars won’t help the CO2 problem much.

    Fracking is producing gobs of natural gas, not just petroleum. Because of this, the price of natural gas has been driven way down, making it economically feasible for replacing coal for electric generation. Natural gas, although a fossil fuel, is much better than coal for electric generation. Methane is four hydrogen atoms for each carbon atom, so we produce less CO2 for the same amount of energy compared to burning coal. Plus it’s much cleaner.

    Wind power is clean, but a utility can depend on wind for no more than about 20% of its power load without risking triggering a major blackout. The wind can stop very quickly and without warning; backup generation to take up the slack can’t be online fast enough to prevent a blackout. So, like solar, it’s good for supplemental power, but not baseline load until we develop an efficient means of energy storage (large, high-speed flywheels are a possibility).

    Solar: Same problem as wind. Although night is predictable, clouds aren’t. We need a means of energy storage.

    Hydroelectric: Most of the best places are already in use. Plus, land flooded for a major hydro facility is taken out of other use, except boating and maybe fish-farming. Do we want to flood the Grand Canyon or Yosemite Valley? (Remember Hetch-Hetchy.)

    Nuclear: New technology can make nuclear much safer than plants already built. It puts zero emissions into the atmosphere, doesn’t require the vast amounts of transportation of coal, oil, or natural gas, and like coal or natural gas, can be run 24/7/365 at whatever output is called for. Storage of nuclear waste is a political issue, not a technical problem.

    If more and more of our electrical generation comes from nuclear, all-electric cars will make more environmental sense, but we still have the problem of efficient energy storage to make long-distance electric car trips as convenient as it is with gasoline or diesel. Quick-charging, high-capacity batteries would be great; we just don’t have them. Perhaps a quick-change universal battery, used by all car manufacturers, would be an answer. As the battery is running low, you stop at a service station to exchange batteries. You’d pull your car over the changing station; a device would remove your spent battery and install a fully-charged one in its place. Kind of like a propane tank exchange.

    As for global warming, maybe Trump will be a believer when the waves are lapping on his Florida doorstep.

  68. Rob | 10-November-2016 at 8:09 pm |
    “Pence is always so sincere and earnest and humble when he spouts absolute nonsense.”

    Being a Hoosier and therefore having listened to Pence for four years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that Pence’s apparent “sincerity”, “earnestness”, and “humility” are all well-rehearsed.

    He is very much a creationist, and probably a Young Earth one at that, although he’s been very careful not to make any public statements to that effect. And he’s definitely a theocrat. His idea of public service is to impose his religious views on all of society. Indiana has the largest voucher system in the country, with millions of public education dollars going directly to religious schools. And the Indiana Supreme Court is ok with it. (They’re all Republican.)

  69. Looks like I botched the italics turn-off switch. May I beseech the Great Hand From Above to correct matters, Oh Great Curmudgeon?

    Thanking you in advance, I remain your humble servant,
    Retired Science Guy

    [*Voice from above*] All is well.

  70. “The blog will resume its usual jolly persona as soon as I can locate some good stuff to post about.”
    “The Discoveroids are doing almost nothing but quote-mining a conference in England…”
    ENV has been headlining Best of Behe: A Quick Reprise of The Edge of Evolution for the last two days. Surely the Curmudgeon must have just overlooked this and will no doubt give us his take on why Behe’s thesis is not supported by the Summers, et al research. When the article first appeared in August 2014, TSC was silent then too. Hmmm

  71. @kevinc
    Oh, goodo. While the rest of us are trying to work out how to cope with the fact that the election result may very well lead to a civilizational collapse — and while our host is doing his best to pretend that it’s all just politics as usual and rationalists are being sore losers and Trump isn’t really antiscience because, er, not too sure about the logic here — along you prance to claim that it’s important we should pay attention to the antics of a bunch of well funded pseudoscientists.

    Hm. Come to think of it, it’s not so surprising after all.

  72. retiredsciguy: “He is very much a creationist, and probably a Young Earth one at that…”

    For the 20 years that I have been observing the antics of anti-evolution activists and their trained parrots, nearly all fellow critics who speculate on an apparent denier’s beliefs make that assumption – with no more evidence than the activists have for their mutually contradictory, long-falsified “theories.” Somehow (mainly thanks to the media) YEC has become the default position whenever in doubt. But one simply can’t know what another privately believes, especially when that other has an agenda that depends on getting others to believe what one privately “knows ain’t so.”

    Would Pence peddle YEC – or even geocentrism – if he thinks the audience is receptive? Absolutely. But 2 things to remember are: (1) less than half of committed evolution deniers (or 10-20% of all adult Americans) are strict YECs. The rest are “soft OECs,” sympathetic to YEC, but not buying it’s absurd ages. (2) nearly all who do personally believe YEC or OEC eventually admit that the evidence does not support the origin story they “believe in their hearts.”

    If I may speculate on personal beliefs of politicians who express denial of evolution, Rick Perry is probably an OEC, otherwise he would be less likely to evade the simple “age” question. Scott Walker probably accepts evolution, but his agenda forced him to “punt” on the question. Huckabee is probably an Omphalist. Much more importantly, almost no one asks these people the hard questions (they can’t evade indefinitely), and by default give them a free pass.

  73. I’d guess that most people have not given any thought about the distinctions that we recognize among evolution deniers. I think that most lay creationists would be surprised that so many of the activists accept microevolution, for example.
    As far as most politicians, it is pointless to ask what they believe. Whatever works for the moment, and rely on the short attention span.

  74. @DavidK
    And there’s this about Ebell too:
    http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/11/trump-epa-pesticides. So long, honeybees. It really is impossible to estimate the amount of damage the antiscience in the upcoming administration is going to do.

    What next? Alex Jones to head NASA?

  75. Who was the famous person who found it ridiculous that the guvment was wasting our tax dollars on studying volcanos?
    And then there is the silly idea about worrying about extinctions of species of rare animals and plants. Why don’t those pointy-heads realize that the species that we all know about are abundant?

  76. @TomS

    Who was the famous person who found it ridiculous that the guvment was wasting our tax dollars on studying volcanos?

    Bobby Jindall, ironically the same Bobby Jindall who later unsuccessfully warned the Republicans against becoming the Party of Stupid.

    A few weeks after his volcano-monitoring jibe, there was a major eruption and no one was hurt, thanks to . . . volcano monitoring.

  77. It’s been noted before that Jindal thought studying hurricanes was a good use of tax dollars.