Anti-Science Quotable: Rep Louie Gohmert (Tx) opposes bill for women scientists

HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE ELECTED INTO CONGRESS?!?!?!?!  U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) explained recently that he and other Republicans (only 3 others, Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Glenn Grothman (R-WI) and Thomas Massie (R-KY)) had voted against a bill to promote the recruitment of women scientists because it discriminated “based on gender.” Summary from RawStory:

Gohmert acknowledged that the bill was “well intentioned,” but said that “this program is designed to discriminate against that young, poverty-stricken boy and to encourage the girl. Forget the boy. Encourage the girl.”

“It just seems that, if we are ever going to get to the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., that he spoke just down the Mall, he wanted people to be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin,” the Texas Republican opined. “I know after race has been an issue that needed attention, then gender appropriately got attention.”

But Gohmert argued that “those things are not supposed to matter.”

“It just seems like, when we come in and we say that it is important that for a while we discriminate, we end up getting behind,” he continued. “And then probably 25 years from now boys are going to have fallen behind in numbers, and then we are going to need to come in and say: Actually, when we passed that bill forcing encouragement of girls and not encouraging of little boys, we were getting behind the eight ball. We didn’t see that we were going to be leaving little boys in the ditch, and now we need to start doing programs to encourage little boys.”

According to the lawmaker, the bill passed on Tuesday would have derailed the Madame Curie’s research, putting “millions and millions of lives” in jeopardy.

“I thank God that there wasn’t a program like this that distracted her,” Gohmert said. “But according to the bill that we passed today, we are requiring the Science Foundation to encourage entrepreneurial programs to recruit and support women to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and into the commercial world. Thank God that is not what Madame Curie did.”

I’m pretty speechless. And I think MLK would be pretty upset that his quote was used in this manner. Checkout some of our previous blog posts about women in science to make yourself feel better after reading this clowns comments.

Anti-Science Quotable: Jeb Bush – If you believe climate science you are arrogant…..

The climate is changing. I don’t think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted. And for the people to say the science is decided on this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you. It’s this intellectual arrogance that now you can’t have a conversation about it even.

Jeb Bush, while campaigning in New Hampshire.

#Science Quotable: Todd Pittinsky – America lacks faith in science #Scicomm

Fifty-three percent of Americans are not convinced that human activity is causing global warming (1). Why? The issue is faith, not facts.

We cannot see climate change with our own eyes, yet we (scientists) have faith in the scientific method. That is what gives science the right to an authoritative voice in public policy.

The real challenge for scientists and those who speak for them is to inspire the public’s faith in science.

Scientists do not typically think it is their business to inspire faith. Their job is to provide facts. But to solve the pressing problems that require public acceptance of well-established science—from global warming to vaccinations to the increasing overuse of antibiotics—scientists must indeed inspire more public faith in their methods and their mutually enforced trustworthiness.

– Selected quotes from a great letter in Science Magazine by Todd L. Pittinsky (America’s crisis of faith in science)

Pittinsky gives a terrific perspective on faith in science and the scientific method, including specific examples of how to inspire faith in science! While a part of me cringes at the use of faith and science in a single sentence, in this case I have been convinced! Check out the full letter here!!!

NOTE: Disappointing to see Pittinsky use ‘global warming’ instead of climate change… womp womp. Guess he isn’t a follower of Bill Nye.

#Science Quotable: Newt Gingrich – Double the NIH budget #unexpected

Even as we’ve let financing for basic scientific and medical research stagnate, government spending on health care has grown significantly. That should trouble every fiscal conservative. As a conservative myself, I’m often skeptical of government “investments.” But when it comes to breakthroughs that could cure — not just treat — the most expensive diseases, government is unique. It alone can bring the necessary resources to bear. (The federal government funds roughly a third of all medical research in the United States.) And it is ultimately on the hook for the costs of illness. It’s irresponsible and shortsighted, not prudent, to let financing for basic research dwindle.

House and Senate negotiators are at work on a budget resolution for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1, and the N.I.H. should be a priority. Doubling the institutes’ budget once again would be a change on the right scale, although that increase should be accompanied by reforms to make the N.I.H. less bureaucratic, to give the director more flexibility to focus resources on the most common and expensive health problems, and to place a stronger emphasis on truly breakthrough research.

We are in a time of unimaginable scientific and technological progress. By funding basic medical research, Congress can transform our fiscal health, and our personal health, too.

– Newt Gingrich in a New York Times Op-Ed (see the link for the full op-ed), including nice examples for fiscal conservatives!

The call to DOUBLE the NIH budget from Gingrich is fantastic, even if it is somewhat unexpected. Bipartisan support, including from conservatives, is needed to keep the United States at the top of biomedical research.

As a side note, the call to increase support and funding solely on ‘expensive’ diseases should be dealt with caution. Funding very disease specific research will not necessarily equate with treatments or cures. Scientific and biomedical research has proven time and again that treatments and cures are most likely to come out of more basic scientific studies in unexpected ways.

Shout out to Sam for the heads up!!!

#SCIENCE Quotable: NIH’s Francis Collins and Tony Fauci – Think Globally #science

fauci

Check out the full editorial here in Science Magazine. #TonyFauciIsMyHero!

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has for more than 60 years supported research to improve the health and prolong the lives of people in the United States and around the world. Mean life expectancy worldwide has doubled to more than 70 years, due in large part to medical and public health interventions developed with NIH funding. Now, in the face of serious fiscal constraints, the idea has reemerged from some congressional leaders and disease constituency groups to more closely align NIH funding for disease research with disease burden in the United States. Although the nation must maintain robust research support for diseases that cause illness and death among large numbers of Americans, it would be unwise to deemphasize diseases that exact their largest toll elsewhere in the world. The United States has a vital interest in the health of people around the globe, rooted in an enduring tradition of humanitarian concern as well as in enlightened self-interest. Engagement in global health protects the nation’s citizens, enhances the economy, and advances U.S. interests abroad.

#Science Quotable: @ResearchAmerica’s Mary Woolley!! #advocacy #scicomm

The media gets a bad rap – sometimes deserved – for sensationalizing, trivializing, and generally making mincemeat of good science. The negative consequences can be enormous, leading to science skepticism that bleeds into counterproductive public policy. But just as often the media gets it right, capturing science as the workhorse it is, explaining how science addresses human challenges and what that means for people we all can relate to. 

Effective communication is critical if science is to earn and maintain public support. More and more leaders of universities are talking about making it both a recognized and rewarded component of academic success for faculty to engage in public outreach.

Last week, I shared our updated fact sheet on Infectious Disease. This week, we release our newest updated fact sheet on Alzheimer’s disease (In 2014, $15.9 billion was spent on Easter in the United States.That amount could fund NIH sponsored Alzheimer’s research for more than 28 years!).

As many times as we repeat the alarming statistics on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s – with the human and economic toll it is taking on our families and our society – the message hasn’t fully broken through. The drum beat must become louder and louder, until we convince policymakers of the need for more research to drive medical progress.

-Selected comments from CEO and President of Research!America, Mary Woolley – Check out the full statement announcing the opening of nominations for Research!America Advocacy Awards!

Anti-Science Quotable: Rand Paul bashes NIH funding and fruit fly research

Paul spoke at the American Spectator Annual Gala in Washington (at the 10:03 mark), and commented on how he has tried to point out potential areas where government spending could be reduced.

Paul, Feb. 11: Remember when we were talking about Ebola last year? Everybody was going crazy about Ebola, and they’re like, oh Republicans didn’t spend enough at the NIH. And they didn’t spend enough on infectious disease. Turns out, the budget had been going up for years and years at NIH, the budget had been going up for infectious disease. You know how much they spent on Ebola? One-40th of the budget was being spent on Ebola. But you know what we did discover? They spent a million dollars trying to determine whether male fruit flies like younger female fruit flies. I think we could have polled the audience and saved a million bucks.

Thanks to SciCheck (mentioned in a previous post) and common sense, we can check the facts behind his “claim”.  In brief:

  • Paul claimed the NIH’s budget has been increasing “for years.” That’s not accurate even in raw dollars. And when adjusted for inflation, the budget has actually decreased over the last decade.
  • He also suggested the NIH wasted $1 million on a study of whether male fruit flies prefer older or younger females, and in the process he belittled the impact of basic research using flies — which has yielded dozens of discoveries and even a few Nobel Prizes over the last century.

Check out the full detailed article.  If you think Rand Paul’s claims are legitimate due to his MD, think twice. Simply having a medical degree does not necessarily equate to understanding science and research. Not to mention, there are some issues with his board certification.

I’m constantly shocked at how ignorant elected decision-makers can be about the very topics on which they make policy decisions (for example…).  I don’t think this bodes well for science.