The Language of Science Denial

September 27, 2014

Governor Bobbie Jindal, a possible presidential nominee, gives a demonstration of the current state of science denial in right wing America.
A nice example of what we can expect in the coming political season.

This event took place before last week’s gigantic climate demonstration in NYC – which may change the calculus for some politicians, in some states. We’ll see.
On display here, more of the “I don’t know, we’ll let the science boys decide” meme, with some additional wrinkles.  Some particularly ironic statements about the teaching of evolution from a self-described biology major.


In a bravura performance of the “I Know You Are but What Am I” suite today, Louisiana Gov. Bobby “Volcano Monitoring Is Dumb” Jindal attacked the Obama administration for being a big bunch of “science deniers” who don’t have the good sense to drill for oil everywhere and get all the oil and coal and burn it up quick quick for prosperity, and so we’re all going to die in the cold and the wolves will get us. We’re summarizing a little, there.

At a breakfast panel of potential 2016 Republican candidates sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, the exorcism enthusiast and creationism enabler explained:

The reality is, right now, we’ve got an administration — the Obama administration — that are science deniers when it comes to harnessing America’s energy resources and the potential to create good-paying jobs.

Jindal then went on to outline his own very special energy plan, which bears the Luntzian title “Organizing Around Abundance: Making America an Energy Superpower.” The completely unique plan, which is unlike any other and is Bobby Jindal’s alone, calls for building the Keystone XL pipeline, pursuing “responsible development of domestic energy resources,” and only working to address climate change if all other countries agree.

And if scientists and job creators disagree, why not split the difference and let scientists employed by the job creators make the final decision? That’s the kind of reasonable approach we can all get behind, where “we” is a subset of the petrochemical industry.

Some smartass troublemaker reporters kept trying to get Jindal to explain whether he accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, and so of course he went with the great “who knows?” stupid answer and said he believes that the climate is “always changing”:

“It’s not controversial to say human activity is contributing” to changes in climate, he said, but he said he would “leave it to scientists to decide how much, what that means…”

When a reporter interjected to ask whether it was established in the scientific community that humans are contributing to climate change, Jindal replied that [his] plan is “not trying to litigate that.” He further said that to the extent that the issue is addressed, he wants it handled with international partners, a point he reiterated later Tuesday in an address at the Heritage Foundation.

Jindal proved his commitment to science-driven policy, saying

Absolutely, let’s listen to scientists, absolutely, let’s work with job creators … But let’s not do so in a way that hurts our economy.

Mother Jones:

At a breakfast event today, a journalist reportedly questioned Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal about whether he believes in evolution. This is pretty pertinent. Several years ago Jindal signed into law the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act. The law, according to the National Center for Science Education, “invites lessons in creationism and climate change denial.” Jindal himself has said in the past that he has “no problem” if school boards want to teach creationism or intelligent design.

Jindal’s response to today’s question (as reported by TPM) was all too familiar. “The reality is I’m not an evolutionary biologist,” he said. Jindal went on to say that while “as a father, I want my kids to be taught about evolution in their schools,” he also believes that “local school districts should make decisions about what should be taught in their classroom.”

The reply brings to mind numerous other Republicans saying “I’m not a scientist” (or Marco Rubio’s “I’m not a scientist, man“) to dodge uncomfortable questions about scientific topics like evolution and climate change. It looks an awful lot like somebody wrote a memo, doesn’t it?

Here’s why this “I’m not a scientist” patter represents such an indefensible dodge. Nobody expects our politicians to be scientists. With a few exceptions, like Rush Holt, we know they won’t be. But it is precisely because they are not experts that we expect them to heed the consensus of experts in, er, areas in which they are not experts.



35 Responses to “The Language of Science Denial”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Politician speaks his mind, tells banal truism about carbon emissions and international agreements.

    Journos shocked.

  2. … “and be safe out there.” That’s the last line of an ad on tv where I live espousing how important and wonderful fossil fuels are.

    All you gotta do is throw out some nice warm words and presto, what you’re doing is GOOD.

  3. And this one… “why not split the difference and let scientists employed by the job creators make the final decision?” By job creators he means oil and gas, of course. That’s not splitting the difference Jindal. That’s handing policy control to oil and gas.

    • They’re used to this.  They’ve been able to get control of energy policy, including regulatory authority over their most threatening competition, mostly exercised through their control of foundations and front groups.  These allow them to spread influence by employing their pet pols, setting them up with lucrative speaking and lobbying gigs, and so forth.

      They’ve been able to regulate 560 megawatts of carbon-free base load generation out of business in Vermont.  One of the consequences is a 50% increase in electric rates in New Hampshire for 2015.  The gas and pipeline industries are getting a very good return on their investments in pols and greenwashing.

  4. As King of the Kooks, climate denier Tony Heller (aka Steven Goddard), all I can say is that if Bobby Jindal said man-made global warming is real, he’s nothing but a climate terrorist!

  5. dumboldguy Says:

    Will the Repugnants ever learn? They are basically doing a reprise of the “race to the bottom traveling circus and clown show” that they put on in 2012, except that some of them are a bit “smarter” now—-Perry, for one—-and he is now wearing glasses to prove it.

    I called 2012 for Obama in the spring of 2012 once it became evident that the clowns were going to pander themselves so far to the right that the last clown standing would be unelectable. Looking at what the “possible presidential nominees” have been saying, I am ready to do the same for 2016.

    Jindal’s “waffling” already looks like a manhole cover when compared to Romney’s back in 2012, and the election is two YEARS away. I would actually like Jindal to end up being the nominee—-Hillary would find him easier to destroy than some of the others.

    • omnologos Says:

      Maybe Jindal will learn the Chinese trick of promising to cut emissions as soon as possible

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Why is making promises a “Chinese trick”? Aren’t all the countries of the world making such hollow promises? CO2 emissions in the U.S. have risen for two straight years now, with Jan-June 2014 being ~6% higher than Jan-June 2012.

        Pay attention to the world, Omno. Your need to make glib but meaningless comments and be “contrary” is taking up time that would be better spent educating yourself.

  6. neilrieck Says:

    Bobby Jindal graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology so his current anti-science position is duplicitous at best (probably playing to the uneducated hillbillies who have taken control of the Republican party). Hey wait a minute, doesn’t this describe most politicians? Scientists seek out truth while politicians “are the weeds of humanity”. They (politicians) certainly reap while they do not sow. We are stupid for allowing them to do so.

  7. […] Governor Bobbie Jindal, a possible presidential nominee, gives a demonstration of the current state of science denial in right wing America. A nice example of what we can expect in the coming polit…  […]

  8. Phillip Shaw Says:

    Is it just me or does Jindal sound like he’s doing a Jeff Goldblum impression?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      LOL Maybe a little, and he also looks a bit like Goldblum but with more of a tan. He also talks faster than Goldblum, who often stops to look “pensive” and “deep”. Jindal is a “wind him up and watch him sling BS as fast as he can” kind of guy, and he has his lines memorized well—the Koch brothers are going to give him a LOT of money to spout this crap about fossil fuels and global warming in the future.

      He is also very slippery and evasive, as with the “what do you think about evolution” question, among others. He’ll look good debating Perry and the other clowns, but won’t get away with that if he ends up being the Repugnant nominee.

      He is also a lying POS. To me, his most egregious lies were about “poor little CLEAN Louisiana” being given a 40% CO2 reduction target. How unfair! The figures for how CLEAN Louisiana is are as follows:

      5th. dirtiest state in per capita CO2 emissions
      7th. dirtiest state in total Co2 emissions
      7th. dirtiest state in %-age share of the national total CO2 emissions

      BUT—-Louisiana is way down at 27th. in population! One of the smaller states? How can this be? Bobby said they’re clean….and…?

      PS I find Goldblum pretty annoying, but I think I’m really going to dislike this guy the more we see of him. The thought that anyone thinks he could be the POTUS is already giving me indigestion.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        PS I forgot to mention this. For a guy with a degree in biology to answer a question about evolution with “I’m not an evolutionary biologist” is really unbelievable and unforgiveable. The “I am not a scientist” pleaders are of course using that to evade, most of them really are NOT scientists. Whoever gave Bobby his degree should take it back.

      • andrewfez Says:

        TYT polled progressives recently, and found that if Hilary doesn’t run in 2016, their idealistic 2nd choice would be Al Gore. That was kind of a shocker, as I thought it would be Warren.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          How about Gillibrand? The country wasn’t ready for a black man. It’s time for a woman (preferably white so the racists don’t get too worked up), and Gillibrand might be a bit ahead of Warren if Hillary doesn’t run.

          • andrewfez Says:

            I haven’t read much about her, though i like that she’s an advocate for a state funded healthcare option. She appears to be for ‘safe’ fracking:

            A spokesman for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, said the junior senator believes fracking is a “tremendous economic opportunity for New York,” but that it “can not come at the expense of clean air and safe drinking water for all New Yorkers.”


            The problem with any of these guys is that in order to run they need to bow their heads whilst offering sly winks to J P Morgan et alia.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            “The problem with any of these guys is that in order to run they need to bow their heads whilst offering sly winks to J P Morgan et alia.”

            You got it. Any politician in any state that has any connection to fossil fuel has to speak out of both sides of their mouths quite often. NY is a big shale play state, and is going the same way as PA. So Gillibrand has to be careful—the last part of that statement is where her heart lies, and when push comes to shove, that’s where she’ll fall.

            Here in VA our two Senators are both Democrats and both former governors (good ones), but they have to walk the fence with the fossil fuel folks (who pretty much own the VA legislature, at least the lower house).

            It’s going to be a long hard road until we get the dirty money out of politics.

          • “I’m not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA. And Mitch, that’s not how you hold a gun. I’m Alison Lundergan Grimes, and I approve this message.”

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I like Grimes a lot. I have nearly taken out a small mortgage on my paid-off house so that I can send more $$$ to her campaign. If she wins, we will not only get a great Senator but will get rid of The Abominable Toad McConnell, and that’s a great two-fer.

            Lots of good women out there, and Grimes could easily be the one to rise to the top in 2016 if Hillary doesn’t run and the Dems hold the Senate so that she can show her stuff to the whole country over the next two years. Obama came put of nowhere fast, didn’t he? She is doing a good job of walking the fence in a coal state and fending off the cretins who can think of no better strategy than “the Obama link”

            PS I get some great “love letters” from Elsie, her grandmother. Do you?

            PPS Women with guns turn me on (if they know what they’re doing with them as she does), and I’ll bet that’s true of most Kentuckians. A great ad, and I’m going to write her campaign another check today so she can run it more often

          • I hope my donations to the DSCC and DNC help Grimes win. My reply was addressing your recognition that “Any politician in any state that has any connection to fossil fuel has to speak out of both sides of their mouths quite often.”

          • dumboldguy Says:

            I don’t fully trust the DSSC to send my money where I most want it to go, and the DNC even a bit less. Although I’ve sent them and the DCCC some $$$$, I try to contribute directly to the campaigns, especially when contributing to any of “the girls”. I do worry the “good old boys” may skim too much for their favorites and give too much to those who are likely to be easy wins and don’t need it. I think the Grimes race is the most critical of all because of the potential for getting rid of McConnell. Can you imagine the message sent to the Repugnants if that happens? And the celebrations that will occur if that takes place will be so huge that they will cause a small “up blip” in the national economy and the stock market. And maybe we’ll be treated to a “Rove Meltdown” on Faux News as well? Go Alison!

            Alison for Kentucky
            PO Box 2223
            Lexington, KY 40588-9802

  9. Gingerbaker Says:

    “I’m not an evolutionary biologist” (which somehow makes me qualified to disrespect their opinions).

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yep. There is no such thing as a “NON evolutionary biologist”. You may find some who claim the title of “biologist” teaching at fundamentalist “schools” (brainwashing centers) or writing books for the home school ignorance market, but biology (the study of life) simply cannot exist without evolution (the hows and whys of living things changing over time). It would be like math without numbers and rules.

      Jindal is simply another intellectual whore, just like Rush and so many politicians on the right, i.e., they will bend over and take anything, as long as it’s wrapped in money.

  10. […] long ago, I posted a notable example from Louisiana Guv Bobby Jindal – but this week’s winner is former Hewlett Packard exec and newly buzzy it-girl Carly […]

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