As Americans, we all believe staunchly in freedom of speech. That fundamental concept in the American experiment has led to artistic masterworks like A Streetcar Named Desire, world-changing orators like Martin Luther King Jr, and entirely problematic stuff like everything that comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth.
The former half-term governor of Alaska and erstwhile conservative golden-child was making a speech yesterday at the premier of a film that denies climate change. Both the film and the one-time politician take aim at the idea that climate scientists know anything about climate science. Her central argument was this:
“It’s something that our candidates should be talking about and giving us their view on and hopefully acknowledging that it needs to become, in the science community, less political. Otherwise, it leads us to believe that so many things coming from perhaps the scientists could be bogus. If this is bogus, you know, what else are they trying to tell us and trying to control us around if they can’t get this one right?”
I’m not sure what she’s getting at there, actually. Let me know if you figure it out.
Somewhere in all the Palin word-salad, came an insult leveled at Bill Nye the Science Guy. Mrs. Palin encouraged parents to speak to their children about climate issues instead of listening to Mr. Nye because “Bill Nye is as much a scientist as I am. He’s a kids’ show actor; he’s not a scientist."
Whoa, whoa, WHOA. We have put up with a lot of free speech from Mrs. Palin over the years, but this is a bridge too far. You can’t go calling Bill Nye not a scientist and expect us to sit by and take it! Bill Nye has a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell, where he is a guest lecturer on astronomy and human ecology. Prior to becoming a beloved TV personality, he designed aircraft parts for Boeing and consulted throughout the aeronautics industry.
All of that? Is science.
Mrs. Palin has a degree in journalism and has worked as a mayor, briefly as a governor, and since then as an author and paid speaker.
That’s what Not Science looks like. You see the difference?
Their resumes notwithstanding, I’m going to go ahead and continue to listen to Bill Nye over Sarah Palin. Not just because he’s a scientist, but because she has amply demonstrated a distaste for facts. And facts matter, even in the land of free speech.