Apparently, They Didn't Teach Science At The Wharton Business School Real Estate Program
A week or so ago, the editors of Scientific American did something I never saw them do before-- they took a partisan political stand. They didn't mention any names, but it's clear they had two rotten characters in mind, Donald J. Trump and one of his top enablers in Texas, House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith. Smith's district is not some backward hellhole like Louie's Gohmert's district. TX-21 is a highly educated part of Texas stretching the downtown Austin and the fence around UT through the Texas Hill country, into San Marcos and down into San Antonio, including almost all of that city's northern suburbs. When you hear about polls showing Trump losing ground in Texas, it's among these Austin and San Antonio suburbanites (as well as Houston's, who have been traditionally Republican, where the trouble is biggest for Trump.
Scientific American is not in the business of endorsing political candidates. But we do take a stand for science-- the most reliable path to objective knowledge the world has seen-- and the Enlightenment values that gave rise to it. For more than 170 years we have documented, for better and for worse, the rise of science and technology and their impact on the nation and the world. We have strived to assert in our reporting, writing and editing the principle that decision making in the sphere of public policy should accept the conclusions that evidence, gathered in the spirit and with the methods of science, tells us to be true.Unlike Louie Gohmert's constituents in Nacogdoches, Lufkin, Tyler, Kilgore and Longview, the suburban voters around Texas' big cities respect science and the scientific method. TX-21 is a literate, educated part of Texas. The progressive Democrat-- and Blue America endorsee-- who's running for the TX-21 seat against Lamar Smith is Tom Wakely. Recently, he told us that he's "spoken to several scientists over the course of this campaign, and they're all rightfully frustrated that we've come to a point where we're faced with the choice to 'believe' in science. We've seemingly exhausted or co-opted everything imaginable to become a political issue. Now these politicians have their sights set on the last bastion of objectivity. We're starting to reject the science that doesn't fit our ideology or narrative and we run the risk of becoming catastrophically regressive. This nation once held the belief that numbers, data, and the scientific method had no bias. If you didn't like the science, you could work the rest of your life to disprove it. These days, politicians work to convince their sector of the public that they know more than the experts. It's certainly disheartening, but it's not too late to fix it. My opponent, Lamar Smith, is now the tip of the iceberg of denial. He refuses to accept the reality facing us and does far more than turn a blind eye. He substitutes his own reality. One where the oil companies are eternal victims and where the scientists of our community are part of some liberal cabal hellbent on ruining society. There are a lot of aspects of Lamar Smith's job performance that I find particularly disqualifying, but his outright rejection of the objective and his harassment of those who are simply performing research rank damn near the top."
It won't come as a surprise to anyone who pays even superficial attention to politics that over the past few decades facts have become an undervalued commodity. Many politicians are hostile to science, on both sides of the political aisle. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has a routine practice of meddling in petty science-funding matters to score political points. Science has not played nearly as prominent a role as it should in informing debates over the labeling of genetically modified foods, end of life care and energy policy, among many issues.
The current presidential race, however, is something special. It takes antiscience to previously unexplored terrain. When the major Republican candidate for president has tweeted that global warming is a Chinese plot, threatens to dismantle a climate agreement 20 years in the making and to eliminate an agency that enforces clean air and water regulations, and speaks passionately about a link between vaccines and autism that was utterly discredited years ago, we can only hope that there is nowhere to go but up.
This morning Tom Wakely seemed very much in synch with Scientific American, stressing to us that "Lamar Smith is proud of this regressive activist committee he's built, which has Republicans clamoring to join for the sole purpose of political and capital gains. He's taken our last bastion of objectivity and turned it upside down. It should be considered a national disgrace. Our people should be angrier, but they're only just beginning to scratch the surface of a man who's managed to walk unscathed through the halls of the Capitol for nearly three decades... While I've never and will never pretend to be an expert in climate science, I have listened to countless experts and scientists who all seem to be in agreement that we must act now. I've worked with Methodist Earthkeepers, who define themselves as missionaries of God's creation, to further cement in my promise to my constituents a moral imperative to leaving a better planet for generations to come."