Tuesday, November 20
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.
Posted by: Wonderduck at Tuesday, November 20 2012 03:29 PM (MOaaY)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, November 20 2012 04:03 PM (PiXy!)
Posted by: dkallen99 at Wednesday, November 21 2012 05:57 AM (2lHZP)
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!)
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)
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!)
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)
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!)
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 22 2012 02:22 PM (PiXy!)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Friday, November 23 2012 02:42 AM (RqRa5)
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Friday, November 23 2012 02:48 AM (RqRa5)
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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