It can be a real pain in the ass trying to cover the topic of scientific illiteracy without straying into politics, especially when there is an ever-present financial incentive for politicians to play–or stay–dumb. As the saying goes, “facts are seditious things when they touch courts and kings...”.
But sometimes there’s an example of stupidity so potatonian in nature that it shouldn’t matter where a person falls on the political spectrum: its sheer idiocy transcends ideology or political loyalties.
That’s precisely what happened when the following words dribbled out of the mouth of a member of the United States House of Representatives, addressed to a panel of NASA space experts, at a hearing to discuss the Mars Rover project:
“You have indicated that Mars had, was totally different thousands of years ago. Is it possible that there was a civilization on Mars thousands of years ago?”
This would be the part where we painstakingly break down the reasons why that’s stupid, but to be honest, the Venn diagram of People who Read Bullshido’s Articles, and People Who Live in Municipalities With Lead-Contaminated Water Supplies doesn’t have enough overlap to justify the effort. (Sorry, Greg from Detroit.)
And if we were going to do some spine-dislodging journalistic yoga to avoid any appearance of bias here, we might leave out the fact that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Republican. But considering the full-on War on Facts being conducted by the GOP in the last few years… let’s just say our brains have a way of shutting that whole thing down.
Anyway, here’s the video:
We also think it’s just moderately important that this son of a spud is on the House Space and Science committee. Freedom fry that tidbit of trivia while you weep into your Russian vodka.
If you’re one of our Republican readers who takes offense to the idea that the GOP is anti-Science, don’t get mad at us: write your damn Congresscritter. Be the change you want to see in the world your party.
Fair and Unbalanced… literally
If it’s any consolation, the award for Absolute Dumbest Thing Said By a Member of the US House of Reps. in the past decade–at least as far as Science goes–still belongs to a Democrat. In a 2010 meeting of the House Armed Services committee, Rep. Hank Johnson expressed a highly specific concern about stationing additional troops on the island of Guam to a US Navy Admiral:
Very small island, about twenty-four miles, if I recall, long, twenty-four miles long, about seven miles wide at the least widest place on the island and about twelve miles wide on the widest part of the island, and I don’t know how many square miles that is. Do you happen to know?…
…my fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.
So there you go.