Tuesday, November 20

World

Bzzz! Wrong, But Thanks For Playing!

The correct answer is "Four and a half billion years."  "Four billion years", "Five billion years", and even just "Billions of years" are also acceptable.

"Look at me, I'm a weasel" is not correct.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 01:36 PM | Comments (12) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 That's a shame... "Look at me, I'm a weasel" is one of my favorite sentences ever.

Posted by: Wonderduck at Tuesday, November 20 2012 03:29 PM (MOaaY)

2 It's a fine sentiment in general, just not accurate in this particular circumstance.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, November 20 2012 04:03 PM (PiXy!)

3 ?

Posted by: dkallen99 at Wednesday, November 21 2012 05:57 AM (2lHZP)

4 Marco Rubio was asked how old he thought the Earth was, and he weaseled.  While the question doesn't go directly to policy, basic scientific knowledge is vitally important in our politicians - and sadly lacking.

As Slate has noted, Obama weaseled in just the same way in response to a very similar question in 2008.  It's not a partisan issue; it's a weasel issue.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, November 21 2012 01:30 PM (PiXy!)

5 Don't know about you, but if I were a politician and some reporter asked me how old the Earth is, I'd say it was created out of nothing last Tuesday.
Basic scientific knowledge is as important for a politician as knowledge of policy issues is for a scientist - namely, not much. Scientists can and do carry out their jobs with only a layman's understanding of politics, or even while believing in crank political theories which are patently ridiculous; likewise, politicians can and do perform with honor while believing in crank theories of physics. When a question doesn't go directly to policy, a politician's answer to it should be of only academic interest.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Thursday, November 22 2012 09:16 AM (9BgEE)

6 When homeopathic remedies (i.e. water) receive special protection under law, when the teaching of evolution is under sustained attack more than 80 years after Scopes, when vaccination, which transformed the face of public health, is under assault, when global warming is, if the models are accurate, the biggest issue facing us today - no, you are simply wrong.  

Politics doesn't matter at all in science, not at the level of theory and experiment (though of course it does at the level of management and funding).  Your political views simply don't change the numbers.

But science is the only effective tool we have for understanding reality, so scientific literacy is critical among the political class - and in the broader population in general.  Whether Rubio and Obama are ignorant of the facts, or are trying to avoid antagonising an ignorant base; either way, it's just not good enough.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 22 2012 11:42 AM (PiXy!)

7 Three out of the four things you mention are policy questions influenced by scientific arguments, not scientific knowledge. Even teaching evolution has some relevance to questions of policy - the appearance of antibiotic-resistant strains of disease is explained by that theory, and the supposed dangers of genetically modified plants are assessed with its help. So those are questions of which a politician's knowledge may be important to how he does his job.

But as I'm sure you know, reporters who ask politicians about teaching evolution aren't thinking about drug-resistant bacteria, and reporters who ask politicians how old the Earth is don't have any question of policy in mind. They are merely trying to make the politician say something which will offend a large bloc of voters. No smart politician will accept that sort of invitation without good cause.

Even on the charitable theory that politicians should be able to follow scientific arguments when they become relevant to policy questions, and that reporters have the duty to test politicians' ability to do so ... this specific question is incandescently stupid. All the politician proves by giving the right answer is that he can remember and repeat what someone else told him. You need a sustained interrogation to establish that someone is, or isn't, able to understand the sciences - and if you get an opportunity to interrogate a politician to that degree, you'd be better off asking about questions of policy anyway, because the arguments he offers will tell you all you need about his education and intellect.

Posted by: Michael Brazier at Thursday, November 22 2012 01:47 PM (34u8A)

8 I agree, these were inane questions raised entirely in an attempt to trip up the politician (Rubio or Obama) and get a story out of it.

But the flip side is that these are simple factual questions, and both men simply weaseled.  I don't think we should accept that.  The fact that reporters are failing at their jobs should not be an excuse for candidates to waffle.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 22 2012 02:14 PM (PiXy!)

9 The other point I was making is that if telling the truth about science (or anything else) will offend large blocks of voters, then those voters need to be offended.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 22 2012 02:22 PM (PiXy!)

10 Please Pixy. Go after homeopathy all you want, but warmism has no excuse. How is global warming the biggest issue facing us today when even the modest disaster predictions haven't come to pass? "Hockey stick" turned out to be a fraud and scientific malpractice, global temperatures stopped raising 16 years ago (according to Met Office), and Arctic ice covers the largest area on record. It tells us that although the dangers of cooking the athmosphere are enormous, the probability of it happening is fairly small, because the doomsdayers were wrong in every single scare issue. And most importantly: the only way to deal with the problem is for humanity is to become more powerful, and that can only happen if humanity becomes richer. Rich enough to launch clouds of Pete Worden's deflectors, for example. Donning rags in the name of global warming will not reduce CO2 and will only damage the economy, making the humanity weaker. If there is any danger, it's warmists who doom the humanity, not those who buy SUVs!

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Friday, November 23 2012 02:42 AM (RqRa5)

11 That Rubio is a weasel is fairly obvious, or was obvious long before leftists decided to focus on palinizing him. I observed it back when he pandered to illegals. Frankly there are more important targets among Repubs for those who love science: Bobby Jindal for one. Every thing with which Democrat lying lapdogs tried to smear Palin he actually did. He is a creationist who put his ideology into action to detrement of pupils in his state. But he gets a pass, while Rubio is above the fold. Why is that? Because 2016 battlefield preparation, that's why. And it's way too early, and Jindal is not out of the picture.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Friday, November 23 2012 02:48 AM (RqRa5)

12 Errr...  Arctic ice coverage set a record low in summer 2012.  But this part I agree with 100%:
And most importantly: the only way to deal with the problem is for humanity is to become more powerful, and that can only happen if humanity becomes richer. Rich enough to launch clouds of Pete Worden's deflectors, for example. Donning rags in the name of global warming will not reduce CO2 and will only damage the economy, making the humanity weaker. If there is any danger, it's warmists who doom the humanity, not those who buy SUVs!
Destroying the economy will destroy the environment, that's guaranteed.  If the "greens" were truly concerned with the environment rather than just a bunch of ageing leftist nutbiscuits wrapped up in irrational hatred of their fellow man, they'd be promoting nuclear power rather than protesting natural gas pipelines.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, November 23 2012 11:49 AM (PiXy!)

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