The Denialist’s Cry: No Science Laureate because … they might talk about science

speaker's corner by Todd Huffman

US bid to name “Science Laureate” hits snag with climate denialists
[Via Ars Technica]

You may not be aware of it, but the US has an official poet. Named by the Librarian of Congress, the Poet Laureate is meant to increase the public’s appreciation of poetry and the arts in general. Inspired by this example, a bipartisan group of Representatives introduced a bill that would create a Science Laureate to indicate to the US public the value placed on science. Unfortunately, that plan has hit a snag, as lobbyists freaked out over fears the Science Laureate could introduce the US public to reality on the topic of climate change.

According to Science Insider, when the bill was first introduced, it had bipartisan backing in both the House and Senate—including from Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), who is not consistently on friendly terms with the US government’s science bodies. In fact, the bill had such broad support, the House bypassed committee votes and sent it straight to the floor, where it was expected to pass without incident.

There was an incident. A leader of the American Conservative Union spotted the bill and blew a gasket. In a letter sent to all Republican Representatives and other conservative lobbying groups, the American Conservative Union alleged that Obama would use the opportunity to politicize the position and use it for advocacy about “climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.”


Love the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s response (remember that they have talked about how great higher carbon dioxide levels will be for all life on Earth). Scientists might talk about science. They are opposed to that.

The chair of the House science committee – Lamar Smith – is a Republican who approves of the bill. And it was co-sponsored by a Democrat, Zoe Lofgren. As an aide said,” It’s no secret that Ms. Lofgren and chairman Smith don’t see eye-to-eye on many things. But they agree on the value of creating this honorary position.”

The amazing thing is that this is not a Presidential appointment, even though that was one of the complaints against it. Three candidates would be recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The President then picks one of them for a 1-2 year term.

The bill is five double-spaced pages long and very easy to read. Here is the only duty of the Science Laureate –  Each Science Laureate shall engage 17 the public, from time to time, to increase the public’s awareness about science.

The legislation was a truly bi-partisan affair in both the House and Senate. In the Senate, there were 4 Republicans and 3 Democrats sponsoring the measure., I am happy to say that one of my Senators, Patty Murray, was a co-sponsor. But it has not been seen outside of the Senate committee since  May 8.

Looks like the denialists will stamp their feet here and actually stop something that has strong bipartisan support. Can’t let someone have a soap box to talk about actual facts. 

They might be believed, ruing the careers of many lobbyists, analysts and politicians.