This week in stupid: Sarah Palin is not a scientist

imageYou’ve got to give Sarah Palin props for consistency. She is wrong about pretty much every issue she takes on – whether that’s evolution, US foreign policy or climate change. And now she’s taking on Bill Nye the Science Guy.

At the invitation-only premiere of the climate denialist film  Climate Hustle on Capitol Hill – an event hosted by Lamar Smith, the Republican Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee – Sarah Palin had this to say:

Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor. He’s not a scientist.

Bill Nye may not be a scientist, depending on how you define ‘scientist’, but he is not only as much a scientist as Palin, he is far more. He trained as an engineer (he holds a BSc in mechanical engineering from Cornell), once hosted a popular children’s TV show about science, has worked for Boeing and with NASA developing new technology, is a long time science educator and is the current CEO of the Planetary Society, an organisation dedicated to space science and exploration.

Nye (despite the Bachelor of Science) doesn’t actually claim to be a scientist. He refers to himself as a science enthusiast and a science educator. He uses the celebrity he gained as Bill Nye the Science Guy to promote science, evidence-based policy making and critical thinking. He takes advice from experts with specialized knowledge on particular topics, and then uses his skill as a communicator to help ordinary people to understand them. As a science advocate with a sound appreciation of basic scientific principles and methods, he is usually worth listening to.

Palin, on the other hand, is not.

It’s a problem when you’re led to believe that 97% of scientists agree that there is a consensus on global warming… [B]ecause Donald Trump is so reasonable and so full of common sense, and knows that for America to be great again then we need to develop our natural resources, it’s going to be helpful for the American public to know his view on it in terms of how do we develop our natural resources if so much of this climate change agenda is really just a political agenda to stymie development.

We need to keep in mind how important it is for parents to understand this issue and to understand the political agenda behind global warming. It is being used as a fundraiser, it is being used as a partisan issue unfortunately so that parents can be first and foremost in their child’s life and influence them to trust science and believe in science and not leave it to the teachers.

If you can untangle this, then congratulations: you’re better at Palin-speak than I am. I have tried, because – confession time –  I actually find her quite compelling as a speaker, if you ignore the often incoherent nature of her arguments. She’s warm and engaging and personable; it’s such a shame she rarely seems to have anything sensible to say.


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