Science: most people like it, now with an emphasis on most. On Tuesday, a bill that would have created an honorary (i.e. unpaid) American Science Laureate position to "travel around the country to inspire future scientists" was sent packing by House Republicans after an influential conservative organization lost their minds over it and wrote a bunch of angry letters. Their reason for opposing the measure? Obviously, that would be the vast liberal conspiracy to promote policies based on the extensive scientific evidence of climate change.
In a letter to House leadership, Science reported on Friday, Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union wrote that an Obama-appointed Science Laureate would give the president a yes man of sorts on environmental policy, someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases." It seems this is a fear injected into the House by Hart himself, as the previously uncontroversial bill had broad bipartisan support, even from Rep. Lamar Smith, who wanted to put the process of scientific peer review under governmental oversight. Smith, a Republican, is the chair of the House Science Committee. He introduced the bill with democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren.
A staffer for another Republican supporter of the bill, Representative Randy Hultgren, reminded Science that the Science Laureate position is primarily aimed at getting children interested in science. Which, come on, we all should be able to agree on this. "There would be no taxpayer money involved," the staffer said, adding, "this bill is simply a chance to show our children that discovery science is important and that science can be an exciting and rewarding career.”
The bill was previously on a fast-track to passage, based on what was assumed to be its highly uncontroversial nature: assuming it got two-thirds majority, the measure was set to fly through the House without any amendments. Now, supporters are going to try and work it through the normal process of the House, presumably so that those representatives targeted by Hart's letter can talk about how imaginary climate change is during debate.
Meanwhile, science will keep doing cool things, like sending a man-made vessel into interstellar space, whether we have a science laureate or not. But really, we should have one.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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