Science Denier To Guide Science. What Could Go Wrong?

July 3, 2017

I used to be dumbfounded at the history of the Islamic world’s turn away from science, or the Pol Pot regime’s war on intellectuals, teachers, and professionals. Now, we get to see the dynamic up close. Fascinating and terrifying.


Today, President Trump signed an executive order to reinstate the National Space Council, an executive agency that will be tasked with guiding US space policy during the administration. The council, typically chaired by the vice president, is one that the US has seen before; it was first in operation during the ‘60s and ‘70s and then again under the George H.W. Bush administration, before being dissolved in 1993. Now, it’s back again, and this time with Vice President Mike Pence at the helm.

Other notable members of the executive branch will serve on the council as well, according to a draft of the order obtained by The Verge. Those include the secretary of state and the secretary of defense, as well as NASA’s administrator — though that positioned has yet to be filled permanently. The executive order lays out the main functions of the council, too, which revolve around making recommendations of space policy for the president and how to implement that guidance. It also calls for the creation of an advisory group, comprised of non-government workers and those in the industry to provide advice.

The council’s purview includes NASA, as well as the US Air Force and intelligence community, which rely heavily on satellites for national defense. “Basically this will be Pence’s eyes and ears into our government’s actions in space, whether it’s NASA or the Pentagon,” Phil Larson, a former space policy advisor for the Obama administration, tells The Verge.


In a 2002, Mike Pence delivered a speech in the House of Representatives, a passionate repudiation of evolution aimed at continuing the common rhetorical device of evolution deniers: that evolution is just a theory and should be presented as such.

Pence begins by discussing Charles Darwin talking about how he “offered a theory of the origin of species which we’ve come to know as evolution. 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.” I have previously written about Darwin never seeing the fossils that would later support his theory, so I and most other paleontologists completely disagree that support for Darwin’s idea has never been found.

He goes on to bemoan the Scopes Monkey Trial saying we have  “seen the consequences” in the following years, lamenting the fact the biblical story of creation is not taught in every biology class around the country alongside Darwin. It is unclear if Pence is either willfully or unknowingly misrepresenting the scientific definition of the word “theory”. In scientific terms, a theory is the highest designation of knowledge and represents something that has been rigorously tested using the scientific method. 98% of scientists surveyed believe humans evolved over time, so among experts, this is not a debate anyone is having.


7 Responses to “Science Denier To Guide Science. What Could Go Wrong?”

  1. Shane Burgel Says:

    Someone needs to point Mike to

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    It’s almost a non sequitur, but I can not describe this ‘administration’ as anything but anarchist fascists.

    These b******s want to destroy the government of the United States, except for the parts that give them power and the ability to exploit everyone else for riches. These are treasonous scoundrels of the highest order. They belong in prison.

  3. webej Says:

    Pense is disingenuous and is controlled by money interests and ideology. A large part of the constituency to which he belongs believe in the Bible, but not in Exxon or Koch Brothers. Bringing in evolution/creation complicates matters, because it is much easier to persuade these people that we should be taking care of the earth than it is to bring them Darwin. Nothing in the Bible suggests we burn fossil fuels. The bible does not mention CO². For many people it is readily apparent that CO² warms the climate and has deleterious consequences as do other forms of modern waste. Just as you don’t run down the land and the farm before passing it on to your children, we should conserve the earth. Many evangelical Christians get this. In fact the Bible does contain mandates about stewardship and even commands about planting trees (!) as well as a pass for military service for newly weds (!).

    Getting there by way of Darwin and fossils is not the most succesful tactic, rhetorically, to approach this constituecy.

    Actually the sequence in the story of Genesis is not even that bad: first energy and matter, then stars, then the sun and the moon. First vegetation (albeit that this precedes the sun), then fish, then birds, then mammals, then humans. Do you think that those guys thought plants grew without sunlight? Hell, everyone worshipped the sun god because it made the plants grow, etc. There are also two accounts side by side of the creation of man. This is an important clue. The people who wrote it didn’t think of it as we do of a “theory”. The problem with some people is that they don’t accept the story as it is written, but take it literally in the same way that some people don’t get a metaphor or a joke.

  4. Dave Jewett Says:

    Please watch this video to calm yourself after watching the anti-evolution Pence speech,

  5. J4Zonian Says:

    For someone who supposedly is trained in history and law, Pence sure is an uneducated idiot. (Oops, I didn’t mean to say that, it just slipped out.) I lost count of the number of false statements and disunderstandings in his speech.

    Not the least of which is his insistence on calling all humans men. More cherry picking from the right wing; it calls to mind not just the selective choosing but the inability to see anything that doesn’t fit preconceptions. A study that Derrick Jensen mentions, in which people offended by nudity fail to “see” or recall afterwards some nudity in a corner of a picture, even when their eyes are observed looking directly at it.

    He has the mannerisms and mentality of a preacher. Let’s hope we can send him to prison soon so he can preach to the congregation there.

  6. J4Zonian Says:

    oops again. A bit of the 2nd paragraph got cut off.

    The study makes it apparent that even something as seemingly basic and physical as physical perception is substantially formed by psychological issues–fears, desires, beliefs, other feelings and thoughts… People fail to see nudity they don’t like; they fail to see children and women who aren’t just inferior versions of men (and indeed that’s how they’ve been treated in most of the world through most of history, although the ways that’s varied have been more complex than most people realize. Those psychologically-induced disabilities are apparent in our leaders. When they involve thought processes I call it SISS, pSychologically Induced Stupidity Syndrome; need a name for when it’s perceptual so I can splain it to the denying delayalists i run across.

  7. Andy Lee Robinson Says:


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