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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Help wanted: Scientists needed in Congress

    Note: This column originally included a quote attributed from Bill Nye incorrectly. The article has been updated to reflect this correction.

    On Aug. 19, Rep. Todd Akin said that women have a way of keeping their bodies from getting pregnant, just from pure willpower alone.

    On Sept. 27, in an address at a sportsman’s banquet in Hartwell, Ga. Rep. Paul Broun, a former doctor, said that evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory were lies from the pit of hell.

    As far as science is concerned, the only thing coming from the pits of hell must be Paul Broun’s medical degree, since it seems incredible that he could have gone through all the science requirements a medical student has to face and still blindly ignore the truth.

    The absurdity only grows when you find out that both of these men are on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

    Since Broun seems so well versed in hell, perhaps he could also tell me what the hell these two men are doing on this committee in Congress.

    The committee was founded in 1957 to help win the Space Race. Since then it has developed to include clean energy and technology as well. The committee consists of 36 members with three vacant Democratic seats and one vacant Republican seat. Of the 36 members, 10 have held a profession in a science field. Four were doctors, three were engineers, one was a nurse and two were scientists.

    The remainder of the committee is composed of mostly lawyers and political scientists (and we’re not counting those as scientists), with a few other professions mixed in.

    Of course, we can’t expect everyone in Congress to be a scientist. And it is important to have non-scientists on the committee to provide a layman’s point of view. However, non-scientists should be the minority in the science committee, not the majority.

    And that, of course, is ignoring the fact that there are “scientists” on the committee who seem to know little about the field of science at all.

    Bill Nye, America’s congenial science guy, called out Broun, saying that he is “by any measure, unqualified to make decisions about science, space and technology.”

    It’s time to hold Congress to a higher standard. We need people who actually know where babies come from, not people who think that when a mommy and a daddy are very happy, a baby is magically delivered.

    We need people who actually support the advancement of knowledge, not people who scorn it and then sit back and enjoy all the luxuries it brings.

    It is a mass generalization to look at two congressmen and claim that all of Congress is a problem, but look at what the 112th Congress has done. As of July 13, it has passed the fewest laws of any Congres since 1947 by a significant margin, and it has voted to repeal health care reform 33 times.

    Scientists are trained to research and to find out all they can about a subject before making a decision on it, and base their decisions on fact rather than on who is making the statement.

    One of President Barack Obama’s platforms this election is to get more children interested in math and science, but he needs to go a step further. He has to get scientists interested in politics.

    To any scientists out there reading this, in a couple of years you might get bored of working in a lab. When that happens, at least think about running for Congress. We desperately need you.

    — Dan Desrochers is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @drdesrochers .

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